Warlord of Darkness

tagnone

6

6

The rushing waves of the Congo River flow deep into the heart of the continent, cutting through the lush rainforests and tropical savannas of Central Africa. Flora and fauna abound in vibrant colors completed by a soundscape awashed in rich tones and harmonies. The riverbank is adorned with numerous cities and villages, some dating back centuries while others are more modern.

Yet beneath the veil of this utopia there is a darkness. A blackhearted shadow dwells within the primordial, untamed Earth, which preserves its ancient knowledge of bloodlust, brutality, vengeance, and violence. Its mysteries are known only to the ambitious who seek its power and perform its atrocities. Once unleashed upon the world, its rule is the slaughter of the innocent and the massacre of all others.

Traversing the river on his wooden raft outfitted with colorful feathers and pristine bones, the Witch-Doctor approaches several villages along the shoreline offering his services. Like other traditional healers, he claims to have the ability to discern the spirits of nature that cause infirmity. In this region of the country, modern medicine is limited in supply; many cannot access pharmaceutical drugs here, while the rest distrust the intentions of its foreign distributors.

By contrast, the Witch-Doctor's remedies are holistic; both body and spirit are active sites of medical intervention. Certain health benefits may be triggered by ceremonial dances. In certain cases, an antidote may be brewed from botanical substances in the environment; even certain rocks and other elements may carry medicinal properties. There are, however, cases where more dramatic treatments are required: paintings of strange symbols on the skin and rituals conjuring spirits.

These ceremonies cause the afflicted to shake uncontrollably, rolling their eyes backwards, yet like a magician conjuring fire and then extinguishing it, the Witch-Doctor can induce and halt the trembling by command. Many believe his solutions are effective in treating diseases prevalent in the region, despite the controversy surrounding them; River blindness, Ebola, malaria, and other tropical illnesses have been expelled from the villages by him.

However, the Witch-Doctor does not depart afterwards as expected. Instead, he begins to claim that spiritual corruption plagues the villagers, and that it is this corruption which has caused their misfortune. To truly protect the people, he must cure this corruption in order to appease the spirits and prevent further disasters. In the wake of epidemics and natural disasters, more and more people started believing in the Witch-Doctor; skeptics became believers and followers.

According to him, nontraditional faiths and their worshippers threaten the villages' survival, and so people must return to traditional religions or be killed lest their corrupted presence kill more. The villagers respond enthusiastically to his message and quickly begin burning down churches and other foreign religious centers, forcing their worshippers to flee into the countryside or be killed.

At last, the Witch-Doctor proclaims that the village chieftains and the local government have gone against the will of the spirits, and that they too must be overthrown and their supporters put to death. Friends and families are torn apart in the carnage as society descends into a frenzy of violence. Murdered bodies are either left in plain sight or disposed of in surrounding fields and waterways.

Once the social order has been thoroughly destroyed, the Witch-Doctor parts ways, taking with him a few devoted followers. The rest are left to wallow in the shadow of civilization. In all the villages he has traveled, dark blood stains the ground and black smoke engulfs the air. Many cannot bear the sight of manifested evil, and so join the loved ones they have slayed, or weep alone in the darkness.

Retreating to a grass clearing hidden among the towering trees and sharp underbrush, the Witch-Doctor and his acolytes set up a base. Huts of straw and branch are bound together with ropes and pitched upon the ground. Soon, the base is expanded with a training ground, storage base, and weapons depot. Concealed by the surrounding jungle labyrinth, the Witch-Doctor devises plans for his fiefdom's aggressive expansion.


On the way back to his barge, the Witch-Doctor spots an African sacred ibis perched on the deck with a piece of parchment tied around its leg. On the parchment is written in Kikongo ya leta, "The Guild has convened. Nsaku demands your presence." Taking out a match, the Witch-Doctor burns the letter and scatters the blackened embers over the river. Grabbing his oar, the Witch-Doctor casts off towards the West.

A thick fog moves though the night jungle like a ghostly mass, misting the moss of trees and blades of grass. As the underbrush clears away, several ancient stone pillars in semicircular shape bearing torches reveal themselves. In the center sit nine figures clad in elaborate hoods made of fabrics and furs of all colors and textures of the rainforest.

Some wear wristbands and necklaces made of various beads and precious metals, while others hold onto tools of wood and bone, and staffs carved with arcane symbols and feathers. Several wear large masks around their face, painted in intimating designs of elongated faces, animal expressions, and terrifying spirits from beyond the natural world.

In the middle is an older man, the Guild-Master, wearing blue face-paint. The painted design evokes the cosmic order of the high god Nzambi through three dots on the forehead, left, and right cheek, and the threshold between death and life as three white rivers flowing outward from each eye, and a stripe down his nose and mouth. The Guild-Master holds a bowl with a yellow potion in front of him and drinks from it, causing his eyes to roll back into his head.

The Masked-Man seated next to the chief gestures his hand forward, and the Witch-Doctor emerges from the shadows of the forest towards the Guild. The Masked-Man gestures for the Witch-Doctor to stop as he approaches the center, then stands up and walks towards him. Using a bundle of dried grass and leaves, he waves symbols in the air in front of the Witch-Doctor while repeating a mantra of spiritual cleansing.

Once the area has been sufficiently purified of negative energy, the Masked-Man blows a puff of ashes into the Witch-Doctor's face before returning to his seat. The Witch-Doctor falls on one knee before the chief. "Guild-Master, you called out for me, so I have come!"

The Witch-Doctor crosses his arms in an x-shape before standing up. The Masked-Man then speaks, "Bajikijayi, the Guild has summoned you to answer your crimes against the great-priest Nsaku!"

Another medicine-man wearing a Demon's Face points his wooden staff towards the Witch-Doctor. "We see the souls of the people you slaughtered, whose blood now stains the natural world; they have pleaded with us to halt your madness, and now they wait for us to end your reign!"

A third Medicine-Man speaks next, "Brother, why have you unleashed this dark witchcraft upon the Earth?"

A laughing smile falls across the Witch-Doctor's face. "Is this why you summoned me here, to charge me with witchcraft? This is nonsense! You all sit here in the jungle, talking to the trees and rocks, while I am in the modern towns and cities. You have no right to lecture me; I know better than all of you what really plagues the world!"

Some of the guildmembers shift in their seats, visibly angry at the comments. The Demon's Face shouts, "Speak wisely, Bajikijayi, or your flesh will be eaten next!"

The Witch-Doctor smirks at the remark. "Now you're speaking my language!"

The guild-members then watch as he walks back and forth in front of them. "From the three ancestral clans, our sacred kingdom was formed: Nsaku, Mpanzu, and Nzinga. The ancestors of each clan were given equal authority so that no one clan would usurp another. Thus, Nsaku became the Priest, Mpanzu the Artificer, and Nzinga the King. For over six hundred years, this order was preserved, and there was harmony between the rulers, the priests, and the people!"

The Witch-Doctor raises his finger towards the guild-members. "But that all changed, didn't it? That fateful day when the colonizers came down and imposed their alien order upon the kingdom. The old ways were abandoned; now the priests worship heresy, the people divide themselves, and the rulers follow their own law!"

The Witch-Doctor waves his hands in the air. "There is no harmony here anymore, there is no balance to be found! The kingdom is dying, and only by cleansing this alien order from our land will this death end! You complain to me about sorrowful spirits? Well know this truth: the spirits of jubilee will outnumber them when I finish my spiritual conquest!"

Suddenly, the Guild-Master's eyes return to normal, and he shouts towards the Witch-Doctor in a low, guttural tone. "I see through your visage, wraith! You have come here not to heal the Kongo but to destroy it! Your soul is drowned in the dark abyss; the spirits have showed me who you really are. You are no diviner, you are a warlock, a monster disguised as a man!"

The Masked-Man raises his hand. "Enough has been said! Bajikijayi, for your crimes against the Great-Priest, we hereby excommunicate you from our ranks and forbid you from healing in the Congo!"

The Demon's Face interrupts, “Should any of us find you violating this rule, you shall be be slain wherever you stand!"

The Medicine-Man asks the Witch-Doctor, "Do you have any final words before the Guild?"

In response, the Witch-Doctor nods his head. "Only the final words of my Spirit-Master before his cruel death. During our journey to soothe the spirits of Malaria in Gemena, my Spirit-Master had read the entrails of a crocodile when something shook him. The village sheltering us had an older chieftain with a younger son who was soon to take the throne. Later that day, the chieftain's son was found dead in his bed with a Gaboon viper. The chieftain believed our magic caused his son to die, and so ordered our deaths, despite my protests."

The Witch-Doctor pauses for a moment before continuing. "Though I had escaped capture, my Spirit-Master did not. The villagers dragged and tied him to a post and stoned him. I saw every rock hit him, I heard every bone break! I sat there in the dust, tears blurring my vision, but I could not turn away."

The Witch-Doctor wipes away a tear that had dripped down his face. "Once the villagers had finally stopped brutalizing him and departed, I came to wrap his body, but he was barely hanging onto life. He looked at me and said-"

"I placed the snake with the chieftain's son on purpose, for his heart was filled with darkness, and his reign would be a curse upon the people, but the spirits would not sanction his death. They said if I killed the son, then I must also die, for balance must be preserved; a life paid with a life. So remember this secret, spiritual power alone is not enough to protect Man. The only power one truly has in this world is the Will, and it is your Will which must triumph in the end."

The Witch-Doctor bends his arms in front of him. "While he was in my arms, he died, and I burned his body in the forest, as tradition commands. I honored his death for days afterwards."

The Witch-Doctor turns his back toward the Guild and whispers, "But I will not be honoring any of you."

The Witch-Doctor quickly turns around and throws down two ceramic orbs in front of the guildmembers; a noxious blue liquid and gas sprays into the air, soaking the guildmembers who jump up from their seats. The green hues of the landscape suddenly shift wildly in color, while the flames of the torches become black before their eyes. In the distance, ominous figures with red eyes and white skin emerge out from the darkened forest.

Several guildmembers collapse, convulsing on the ground and foaming at the mouth. After the Demon's Face's eyes roll back into his head, he falls and slams his head on a large protruding rock, cracking his skull and mask on the Earth. The Medicine-Man stumbles backwards into the touch, lighting himself on fire, and then flees wildly into the forest. A stray bullet careens into the Masked-Man, coating his splintered facemask scarlet.

The Witch-Doctor raises his hand and yells, "Secure the perimeter!"

From the darkness emerge the armed followers of the Witch-Doctor, one of whom hands him his pistol and machete. As the Witch-Doctor approaches the still-standing Guild-Master, his eyes widen in panic. Before his eyes, the Witch-Doctor has disappeared from his sight, and another terrifying figure stands in his place, with white skin and eyes of fire wielding an iron sword. The demon is wearing an intricate suit of black armor and a chainmail helmet.

The Witch-Doctor grabs the chieftain by his collar, forcing his body closer to himself. He then presses his machete against the Guild-Master's neck. "The end of your reign has come, Guild-Master! Now I will cleanse this world of the corruption you all failed to cure!"

The Witch-Doctor slays the Guild-Master, spraying the blood over his face and uniform, and the sounds of gunfire ricochet through the jungle.


Meditating beneath the canopy's shadow, the Witch-Doctor chews on poisonous African cherry leaves when he senses a presence approaching. Awakening from his trance, he spots a man in a gray suit and black suitcase approaching him. The figure appears to be an Asian businessman. The Witch-Doctor's henchmen take notice and stand on guard by their spiritual liege.

The Witch-Doctor smiles at the Businessman. "My good man, you appear to be very lost! The nearest airport is about a hundred miles that way in Kindu-Port-Empain. I'm afraid there's nothing here for you but the jungle."

The Businessman stops walking and faces the Witch-Doctor. "I've actually come to see you, Bajikijayi Mwilambwe."

The Witch-Doctor raises his eyebrow in surprise at the response. "You know who I am?"

"Yes I do. Mr. Mwilambwe, I'm here to present a business proposition to your enterprise. If I may-"

The Businessman unfolds a tripod stand built into the sides of his suitcase to prop it up. Unlatching the metal suitcase, the Businessman suddenly pulls out a Heckler & Koch G36 assault rifle. Startled, the Witch-Doctor's bodyguards equip their weapons, but their machetes and Browning GPs are visibly outclassed. The Witch-Doctor signals for his men to be at ease, as he slowly stands up and brushes the dust off his legs.

"My clients are interested in combat-testing their latest weaponry. They are looking for potential investors willing to provide them with real-world data. Here-"

The Businessman tosses the weapon over to the Witch-Doctor who grasps its barrel. After familiarizing himself with the firearm, the Witch-Doctor discharges a couple three-round bursts into the woods. "This is a solid gun. How much do you want for this?"

The Businessman waves his hand. "No charge, it's a free sample."

A laughing smile spreads across the Witch-Doctor's face as he turns to his followers. "You see, this is a very generous man!" The smile falls away as he faces the Businessman again. "But I know nothing in this world is given freely. What do you really want?"

The Businessman approaches the Witch-Doctor. "You're right. You've just seen how powerful one gun can be, but imagine how powerful a whole army with these weapons will be."

A foot of distance separates the Businessman and the Witch Doctor. "I have been following your activities in the Congo River Basin very closely, Mr. Mwilambwe. I know about your plans to expand your territory and set-up a rival government. I'm here because our interests align."

The Businessman turns towards the East. "You may know that there are growing tensions on the Rwandan border. The government-in-exile is launching cross-border raids into the country from the refugee camps here in Zaire. A coalition is being put together to invade and dismantle the camps. In other words, war is coming to the Congo."

The Businessman returns to face the Witch-Doctor. "Unfortunately for Kinshasa, the national military is in no shape to mount a defensive campaign. The old maxim is true: power abhors a vacuum, and all sides will be fighting for control."

The Businessman points his index finger at the firearm. "What I want in return for that is a partnership."

The Witch-Doctor brings his weapon to the side. "Alright, you have my attention. What is your offer?"

The Businessman slowly walks back to the briefcase stand. "These are terms of my proposal: I can supply you and your entourage with the latest combat weapons, ammunition, body armor, mortars, grenade-launchers, and whatever else you may need. Do not worry about logistics, the supplies will be delivered to where you are; we will find you."

The Witch-Doctor crosses his arms and raises his hand towards the Businessman. "And what would I give you in exchange?"

"That depends on you. What are you willing to trade?"

Before answering, the Witch-Doctor holds his hand to his chin, thinking for several seconds. "There are several rich mines harvesting cobalt, diamonds, tin, and other minerals in the Eastern half of the country. The problem is the companies that own these sites are all foreigners exploiting the country. The corrupt government sells the land for cheap, and in exchange, they get a cut of the profits."

The Witch-Doctor draws closer to Businessman, holding his weapon. "But with weapons like this, I could take over these mines, and have my soldiers run them. And once we overthrow this corrupt government, I could give you their shares of the revenue. That is my offer to you."

The Businessman extends his hand outward. "I believe we have a deal then. I will write-up the legal paperwork when I leave."

The Witch-Doctor firmly reciprocates the handshake, but upon contact, the Witch-Doctor leans forward and whispers, "You have a dark aura. I see the void beneath your mask, it was revealed to me long ago when I saw the shadow of the Black Tower."

The Businessman whispers back, "There are many avatars of darkness, I am but one of many." The Businessman stares into the Witch-Doctor's eyes, "and I know you are one of us too."

The Witch-Doctor leans back and relinquishes his grasp. The Businessman folds the tripod legs back into the latched briefcase, and returns into the thicket. The Witch-Doctor wraps the gun around his back, and looks back towards the Businessman before walking into the shadows of the forest.


The emerald rainforest is obscured by a brown haze, the dust cloud hovering over a large clearing among the trees. Hills of dirt and sand cover the landscape, while trenches carved into the Earth expose the rich soil and clay beneath the surface. Scattered throughout the area are miners of all ages and sizes slamming pickaxes into the coarse dirt. Others pan the rocks that have been excavated, and wash them over with water.

An armored convoy is parked on the asphalt road leading into the mining site nearby. Four Jeeps surround an transport vehicle which is being filled with sandbags full of gray ore by the soldiers overseeing the operations. Once the convoy has been filled, the back doors are closed and automatically locked. The soldiers load their weapons and prepare to escort the armored vehicle to the airport in Kindu-Port-Empain.

A whistling sound fills the air before they begin to drive away, catching both the miners and soldiers' attention. The whistling grows louder as a small rocket is seen flying through the air. Suddenly, the mortar bomb smashes into the Jeep nearest the gateway, sending a shockwave throughout the convoy and chunks of metal and soldiers through the air. A second mortar bomb slams into the asphalt driveway, forming a crater in the road, and sending more debris into the air. The soldiers scramble for cover wherever they can find it.

Pouring out from the bushes are the Witch-Doctor's acolytes, discharging their weapons into the soldiers. The driver of the armored vehicle slams his foot on the gas pedal, launching the metal chariot forward into the Jeep in front of it before reversing and doing the same for the Jeep behind it. Several shots crack the bulletproof-glass before one pierces through the driver-side window. The passenger doused in blood raises his arms in surrender.

One of the militants raises his fist into the air. "Cease fire!"

Turning to his henchmen, the Witch-Doctor rattles off orders. "Secure the perimeter! Round up the miners and the traitors!"

The Witch-Doctor walks towards a group of miners huddled inside a pit. "Don't be worried! Come out of the darkness up to me. All of you miners come to me, I will not harm you!"

The miners approach cautiously, slowing walking out the pit with their hands in the air.

The Witch-Doctor motions to lower their hands. "No need for that. You see, we're making some changes to this operation. This mine belongs to me now, and that means you are my employees."

The Witch-Doctor lowers his weapon, and smiles at the miners. "But I bring good news, you are all free! I only take volunteers for my operation." Nervous smiles come across the face of the miners.

The Witch-Doctor begins pacing back and forth. "Now, you can stay here if you still want, or you can run into the bushes and go home."

The Witch-Doctor raises his finger. "But be careful what choice you make. There are many dangerous animals and monsters hiding in the jungle."

The Witch-Doctor looks towards the East. "If you survive them, you will probably run into the Interahamwe from Rwanda or the Banyamulenge here at home, and they probably will kill you if you are the wrong ethnicity, or they will think you are a spy for the other side. Then they will burn you and your family members alive or even worse."

The smiles disappear.

"But if you stay here with me, I can give you a new life. My men and I are waging a war against this corrupt government in the capital! If you help me with my struggle, your families will be protected, and there will be no militants harassing you."

The Witch-Doctor stops walking. "These are your choices, now make them!"

A couple miners take the opportunity to walk away, but a majority stay behind, recognizing the truth behind the Witch-Doctor's offer: there is no free choice to be made.

"Shoot the ones walking!" After hearing the order, the Witch-Doctor's henchmen open fire on the running miners.

A soldier interrupts the Witch-Doctor. "Sir, we have captured the Commander!"

"Ah great! Bring him to me!"

A soldier is dragged through the thick brown mud towards the feet of the Witch-Doctor. The man's legs are visibly broken. The Witch-Doctor looks at the Commander. "Are you the mining overseer? Is this your operation?"

The Commander talks in a raspy voice. "No, we're just providing security for the mine."

"You have done a poor job!" The Witch-Doctor smiles as his henchmen laugh at his insult. "Let me show you something, wait here."

Walking to the armored truck, he approaches a soldier attempting to open the locked rear-cargo doors. "There was no key inside, sir. We can't get this open."

The Witch-Doctor steps closer to the doors and lays his hand on the metal exterior. Pulling out a brown-glass bottle from his pocket, the Witch-Doctor uncorks the top and drenches the orange liquid over his machete before resealing it. The Witch-Doctor then starts mumbling a strange mantra, causing the machete to vibrate in response. After several seconds, the Witch-Doctor slams the machete into the metal doors, cutting through the metal as if it were Papier-mâché.

Several swings cause the locking mechanism to malfunction, letting the doors fling open. Inside the armored vehicle are piles of tan sandbags filled with ore rocks. The Witch-Doctor grabs and sandbag and cuts it open, causing its pile of minerals to spill onto the ground.

Picking one rock up from the pile, the Witch-Doctor walks back to the Commander, and holds the ore before him. "Cassiterite, this is a very important mineral. You can melt this down to make tin and sell it for a lot of money!"

The Witch-Doctor clasps his hands around the ore, whispering an incantation into the rock. Slowly its impurities crumble away until only brilliant crystals are left.

"But you and your fellow soldiers are giving this away to the foreigners! You let them make all the money, while the country gets ripped off!" The Witch-Doctor throws the dust from the ore onto the soldier.

The Witch-Doctor then turns towards the other captured soldiers and miners. "What sense does this make?! That's right, it doesn't. This fact is evident only if you're not a traitor to the Kongo!"

The Witch-Doctor turns back toward the Commander. "Listen brother, how would you and your men like to work for me? I am much less corrupt than the Old Leopard in Gbadolite. What do you say?"

Hatred pours through the eyes of the Commander, who turns up to stare at the face of the monster. "I'd rather burn in Hell than serve you!"

In response, the Witch-Doctor glances over at his militia with a smirk. "I try to be merciful, and this is how I'm repaid!"

The Witch-Doctor swirls his finger. "Round up the soldiers and dead bodies in the Jeeps and drive them down to the river where the crocodiles are!"

One of the Witch-Doctor's militants slams the buttstock of his rifle into the head of the commander, knocking him on. One of the the Jeeps is loaded up with the cadavers of the soldiers and miners, while the other drives away toward the Congo River. The Witch-Doctor opens the door to the armored vehicle and starts the engine, driving away into the wilderness.

At the riverbank, the bodies of the soldiers and miners are tossed into the water, followed by the Commander and the rest of the surviving soldiers. With bound hands and feet, it is impossible for them to stay above the surface for long, and they move around like a lure for the submerged Nile crocodiles, bobbing up and down. With cascading splashes, waves of water are thrown into the air, roaring over the screams of agony, and the river turns a dark shade of red.


A sea of white tents roll over the tropical landscape like a cotton field. A make-shift food market prepares lunch for the refugees, harvesting plants growing in the rich soil, while people carrying buckets crowd around a water dispensary. The rocky streets are filled with refugees and emergency vehicles. Personnel from several non-governmental organizations are providing medical and humanitarian support, transporting supplies to on-site hospitals and distribution centers beneath cloth tarps.

Though a semblance of order has been established, the situation remains precarious. Cholera and malaria rage throughout the campsite, claiming hundreds of lives daily. There is not enough staff to handle the constant influx of refugees arriving there daily. Violence has broken out in several areas of the camp, with women often the targets. Among the aid workers are embedded members of the U.N International Security Assistance Anomalous Force who know the dark secret behind the camp's establishment.

Many of the refugees there were participants in the Rwandan genocide. Several ex-military commanders and Interahamwe militia leaders reside among the tents, arming and training forces for cross-border raids. The UNISAAF operatives have been sent to secure anomalous weapons which may have used in the civil war. Some weapons have been found—mortar shells that warp gravity so that objects are drawn closer to them as they explode, magazines with unlimited ammunition, a flaming machete—but time is running out.

A shadow of death races over the Congo, shading the ground beneath it as it barrels through the sky. The roar of its engine and its blades piercing the air shake the vegetation back and forth. Soon the refugees hear the beast approaching coming from the East. Panic spreads throughout the camp as the air temperature plummets, and becomes all-out fear when the monster reveals itself above the canopy. A massive Mi-24 helicopter gunship descends down towards the village like a bird of prey.

It's fuselage is robed in dried blood, and dangling from its wings are four hanged bodies. Refugees begin to flee through the streets in terror at the approaching metal dragon, while the stationed UNISAAF operatives behold their worst nightmare galloping through the sky. The aircraft begins to cycle its YakB-12.7 machine gun before unleashing a hailstorm of bullets over the tent city. Projectiles pierce through the tents like a rock through glass, splintering everything on impact.

Those caught in the line of fire have their arms, legs, or heads dismembered instantly. The gunship maneuvers sideways around the camp before unleashing a barrage of 57 mm rockets upon the refugees. Explosions rock the ground, sending bodies and debris flying through the air. One missile obliterates the make-shift medical center, destroying countless vials of life-saving medicine, while another annihilates an ambulance, instantly incinerating the patients and medics inside.

As the number of dead rises into the thousands, the gunship starts flying low towards injured survivors on the ground. An electrical wire falls from its wings and wraps around the neck of an injured refugee on the ground. The aircraft then thrusts upward, yanking them into the air. After a short struggle, the force of gravity snaps their neck. Several other men and women are targeted by the gunship, their corpses becoming another pendant on its necklace of death.

The UNISAAF operatives begin to open fire on the sky-demon with the few weapons they have. The beast rapidly turns towards the soldiers and flares its wings. From it's nose, a stream of fire shoots forward towards the soldiers. Several tents and soldiers are lit on fire, while the rest duck for cover on the ground. The flames spread quickly throughout the camp, forcing those taking shelter from the onslaught into the open.

After several minutes of non-stop gunfire, the gunship begins ascending over the camp and releases a series of cluster ammunitions from its fuselage, dropping them upon the destitute. Satisfied with its work, the dragon drifts away into the Congo interior, leaving behind are the burning ruins of the refugee camp. The few survivors that remain wander through the streets in a catatonic state; the Earth below them is blackened and cratered.

Several miles away, wooden supply crates filled with ammunition are being wrenched open by the Witch-Doctor's soldiers when suddenly the shockwaves of the sky-demon's blades are felt over the basecamp. The passing gunship turns toward the wooden and straw huts below and jolts downward, frightening the militants. The Witch-Doctor is alerted to the intruder, and steps outside of his headquarters to face the beast.

A field of darkness emanates from the aircraft as they stare down one another, while the temperature around them plunges below zero, layering the green trees and grass with white frost. After several moments, the temperatures return to normal, and the beast reverses its engine. The Witch-Doctor smiles and turns to his soldiers, "The basilisk of war has been unleashed, our struggle for liberation has begun!"

The Witch-Doctor's militants cheer as the gunship accelerates westward, heralding the start of the First Congo War.


Roadways twist alongside the winding banks of the Congo river, binding the massive country together. The network's crumbling infrastructure does not diminish its strategic importance; through it rural villages in the savannah are connected to the metropolitan cities on the Atlantic coast. These transit routes pass through the various trading hubs and port cities in the interior, some relics from colonial times and others more modern.

Four Jeeps travel down the rugged road. After several miles of passing cassava and wheat fields, the convoy slows to a halt; the road ahead is blocked by a body-shaped obstacle. The passenger of the first Jeep steps out to investigate the cadaver. The soldier examines the corpse closer, and realizes it is not of a man, but a scarecrow; its melon head concealed within a headcloth, and its body of dried grass covered by its clothing. Flipping the figure over, the soldier notices too late the metal plate beneath it.

The explosion from the landmine rocks the convoy, sending rock, melon, and parts of the soldier flying through the air, cracking the bulletproof glass of the Jeep through the force of its blast. Several soldiers are injured by the flying debris. A wooden hatch concealed beneath the dirt road flips upward behind the convoy, revealing a militant with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher on his shoulder. A second explosion destroys the last Jeep, killing all eight men riding inside it.

From the riverbank and treetops, the Witch-Doctor's acolytes unleash a torrent of gunfire on the trapped soldiers, misting the sky and Jeeps with their blood. After a couple minutes, the gunfire ceases. The survivors are rounded up and disarmed, while the bodies of the dead and injured are dumped on the side of the road. As the evening sky dims into darkness, the militants take off with the vehicles and the hostages into the jungle, leaving the rest abandoned next to the burned-out remains of their convoy.

Over the Witch-Doctor's base camp stands a large radio tower with electrical wires running down its metal skeleton into a wooden hut. A microphone is set up on a small metal table inside, and before it sits the Witch-Doctor on a folding chair.

"This is the latest update from the war: The anti-government AFDL coalition of Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi have just captured Kisangani from the army, the FAZ. They intend to depose President Sese Seko and install their puppet, General Kabila, as our new overlord."

The Witch-Doctor pounds his hand on the table, "We are being colonized all over again! The Rwandans, Ugandans, and Burundians are marching their armies to the West, while the Zairian military does nothing! They cannot save themselves, much less our country!"

The Witch-Doctor leans in closer to the microphone. "I'll tell you why they are losing this war: It is because this country is plagued by a sickness. Let me ask you listeners, would you give your life to protect the bureaucrats in Kinshasa? Would you die for our President who spends most of his time as a dying zombie in Gbadolite?"

The Witch-Doctor throws his arms up in the air and laughs. "Of course not! You see, we all know deep down the truth about this country we live in: it isn't a country at all. Zaire is a phantom-state, ruled by corrupted bureaucrats and foreign interests. That's how the Belgians wanted it to be, that's how our President shaped it. We will never know peace, never be free from violence, so long as Zaire exists in its current form."

The Witch-Doctor raises his finger. "There is only one cure for this disease: We must revive Kongo dya Ntotila, our lost kingdom! Our oppressors must be thrown out, and a new chiefdom must be established to rule over the people! Our society must be freed of foreign ideals and reformed to follow the old traditions!"

The Witch-Doctor pauses to catch his breath. "When I was a young man, my parents were killed in the fighting between the Christians and Muslims in our village. Our own neighbors broke into our house and dragged us outside to the guerillas. After forcing us to line-up with our hands bound together, they made us watch as they cut the throats of our loved ones. My brothers and I ran away into the bushes alone, ducking gunfire as we fled deeper into the rainforest, but only I was small enough to escape."

A serious expression falls over the Witch-Doctor's face. "I do not lament over these past events anymore because I understand now they helped me realize my purpose in this world: to restore the cosmic balance, to revive the old ways and traditions of our ancestors, and to conquer those who try to conquer us. You see my friends, that's the true history of the Congo: if we don't start fighting for ourselves and following our Will, then others will impose their own upon us."

The Witch-Doctor presses a button next to the microphone, ending the transmission. His message is broadcast throughout Maniema and the Kivu regions. Crowds gather near radio boxes to hear his rants about government, and slowly find themselves persuaded by his arguments. Venturing out into the nearby villages and town to heal and recruit new soldiers for his army, the Witch-Doctor is overwhelmed by his radio followers, who pledge their lives to his campaign of darkness.

The dim light of a metal lantern shines over a large wooden hatch partially covered by grass and dirt in the center of the Witch-Doctor's camp. Beneath the surface eleven feet below, thirty men are huddled together on the ground in worn-out sleeping bags. Their tattered uniforms bear the symbols of several organizations and national flags. Covering the floor and walls are white and blue tarps bearing the symbol of the United Nations. The hatch swings open and three men are thrown down into the dark pit before it is closed again.


On a small hill nearby, the Witch-Doctor gazes through a tall plastic telescope pointing towards the stars. With a pencil and notebook in his hands, he jots down his observations. Suddenly, the Asian businessman reappears from the bushes, alerting the Witch-Doctor's henchmen.

"I knew I'd see you again." He turns around to face the Businessman, motioning for the guards to stand down. "What brings you back to the jungle?"

"I got lost looking for the airport." The Businessman walks towards the Witch-Doctor. "There's something you need to see."

Setting up his briefcase stand, the Businessman pulls out a manila folder and hands it to the Witch-Doctor. Inside are several photographs of soldiers massing in large numbers next to armored transport vehicles and tanks. "While you were busy blowing up soldiers driving through the jungles of Kasaï-Oriental, tensions on the southwestern border have been heating up. Angola is planning to intervene in the war on the side of the anti-government coalition. You're familiar with the rebel group UNITA?"

The Witch-Doctor analyzes the photographs. "Yeah I know of them, they control the diamond mines in the Bas-Congo region. The corrupt government in Kinshasa gives patronage to them in exchange for a cut of the profits."

"Angola sees this conflict as an opportunity to get rid of their old civil war enemies. That seems to be a running theme here in the Congo! They'll be spearheading to the capital Kinshasa to topple the President and put someone new in charge."

The Businessman walks to the manila folder, and flips to a photograph of a large man wearing a tan camouflaged suit and the flag of the AFDL. "And you're not going to like who it'll be."

The Witch-Doctor looks up from the photograph. "General Kabila?!" Exasperated, the Witch-Doctor quickly shuts the folder. "That man is a puppet! He cannot lead this country! Nobody will follow his orders!"

"I've done business with General Kabila before. He is more formidable than he appears, the man was a Marxist guerilla commander. The one thing people like him know well is how to attract followers to his cause."

The Witch-Doctor hands the folder back to the Businessman. "My old Spirit-Master told me what his soldiers did to the Guild in South Kivu. This man will destroy the Kongo if I don't strike back now."

The Businessman raises his hand in interjection. "Not yet! Your small-scale attacks may have been sufficient thus far, but you're not in any position to mount a war campaign."

The Businessman pulls out a mobile phone from his suit pocket, and hands it to the Witch-Doctor. Several undercover UNISAAF Peacekeepers are seen on the screen, with one holding out a flaming black machete in front of him. In the background are several wooden crates with automatic weapons displayed on top."

"There are shadow agencies starting to pay attention to this conflict, that's why I came to warn you." The Businessman takes back his phone from the Witch-Doctor. You will need stronger weapons to fight against them if you want to win this war, even stronger than I can give you."

The Witch-Doctor walks towards his telescope and grabs his notebook laying in its center. "Before you appeared, I gazed above into the cosmic darkness and it whispered this name down to me."

Opening his notebook, he shows the Businessman an acronym written on the paper: AGLA. "Among the dead and living at the jungle's edge, in the savage redness of the killing field, where I found the ancient knowledge beneath the tower's shadow. That's where they are, and where I will find them."

The Businessman extends his hand outward. "Well, I trust you know where that is then. Those guys will have the weapons you'll need. Until we meet again-" The Witch-Doctor shakes his hand. The Businessman then walks off into the bushes, disappearing behind the leaves of the banana trees.

The next morning, sunlight showers the Witch-Doctor's camp in golden light. The insurgents are huddled closely around the Witch-Doctor, whose body is leaning next to a radio broadcasting the latest news from the war.

"This is the latest BBC News update: Angolan military forces have just invaded the Central African nation of Zaire. Fighting has broken out along the border in the Bas-Congo region. Angola joins several other countries involved in military operations in the Congo region, including Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda. The United Nations has called for a peaceful resolution to the conflict, but so far the Security Council has failed to act-"

Turning the radio off, the Witch-Doctor turns to face his soldiers. "Do you all hear this? Another group of invaders have entered our country!" The militants jeer and yell at the announcement.

The Witch-Doctor stands up. "Let me ask you all this: Do you think these armies have invaded Zaire to save us from oppression out of the goodness of their heart? No! They have come here to conquer, to plunder our natural riches!"

The Witch-Doctor grabs his automatic firearm from a wooden gun rack and loads it. "But unlike before when the Belgians cut off our ancestor's hands, now we have the tools to fight back!" He waves the gun in the air, drawing cheers from the crowd.

"Now is the time to fight! Now is the time to wage our war! We will take back our kingdom from the invaders and the traitors! Then we will be the ones to make the Kongo great again!"


The bright morning sun shines down upon the vast rainforest, but it's light is obscured by the thick canopy, leaving the ground below the leaves shaded in darkness. Emerging out of the dense foliage, the Witch-Doctor approaches the obsidian obelisk, the black monument of death, and prostrates himself before it. Several unintelligible phrases are carved into the exterior of the tower, and a strange emblem vaguely resembling a triangle is prominently displayed above the doorway.

While the Witch-Doctor circles the building, he begins to gather nearby plants on the ground and mixes them into a potion. Sitting cross-legged before the sigil, the Witch-Doctor consumes the substance and begins to meditate. The day shifts rapidly into night as the surrounding area warps like waves in an earthquake. As the colors of the jungle become vibrant and the soundscape intensifies, an opalescent glow emanates from the engraved sigil.

Awakening from his meditation, the Witch-Doctor stands up and examines his surroundings. Where flowers and plants once were, now a field of bodies surround the black tower. The luminescent moon drifts slowly by amidst unknown stars; it's surface blue and green like the Earth. Lightning pulsates across a large eel-like monster as it darts across the sky. From the jungle, several massive forest mosquitoes the size of wild dogs descend upon the dead bodies.

Riding behind the bloodflies on an African war elephant decked in skulls and armor plates are four soldiers dressed in black and red camouflaged uniforms wearing necklaces of knives and bones. Two of the men are wearing baklavas covering their mouths, while the rest sport only a red headband. An arcane symbol, a red flame, appears prominently on all of their assault weapons.

The Witch-Doctor walks towards the soldiers dropping down from the war elephant. "Nice ride! You know, you guys are hard to get a hold of! I haven't been around these parts of the jungle in a long time."

One of the soldiers grabs a gray bag hanging off the side of the war elephant, and places it on the ground to unzip it. Inside the bag are several rifles with the same red flame carved into them.

The soldier who was driving the elephant approaches the Witch-Doctor and points at the bodies scattered around the tower. "You slaughtered all these people because of the burning rage of vengeance. The Bloodlust courses within you, He made you an avatar of his violence!"

The Witch-Doctor glances around at the carnage. "Well you see, they killed someone very important to me, and so I took their lives as recompense. That's the ancient natural law, and it's my duty as a healer to uphold it."

The soldier suddenly takes out a Mambele sword and holds it toward the Witch-Doctor, who jumps back a few inches. "Insofar as you help our cause, we will help you. But know your allegiance to the cosmic tyrant is mistaken! Should you try to enforce his illegitimate rule upon us, we will cleave your spirit from this body!"

The other soldier zips up the bag and hands it to the Witch-Doctor. The soldier with the sword then cuts his palm on the blade and extends it out to the Witch-Doctor, who reciprocates the ritual, sealing the deal in blood. The AGLA militants climb back up on the war elephant, who roars as they march back into the forest followed by the bloodflies, which have drunken down the victims of the Witch-Doctor's carnage to their bones.

Suddenly, a medicine-man appears behind the War-Lord. "Bajikijayi, what have you done? What have you become?"

The Witch-Doctor turns around. "Spirit-Master? Ah, it is great to see you!"

The Witch-Doctor throws his hands up in the air in surprise, but the Spirit-Master does not smile. "I know that you betrayed the Guild, I know about all your crimes against Nzambi."

The Witch-Doctor lowers his hands. "I did what I had to do. I had to become what I was meant to be."

The Spirit-Master walks closer. "No, I did not train you to be a ndoki! I taught you to be a healer, not a sorcerer! You were supposed to respect life, and uphold the balance between humans and the spirit world!"

The Witch-Doctor throws his hands in the air. "You were the one who taught me the only force that truly matters is the Will-" He then beats his chest. "My willpower! The spirits and the villagers betrayed you, remember?! The ancient law requires blood be shed, and that is what I did for you, I avenged you!"

The Spirit-Master stops walking, and shakes his head. "Apprentice, you have so much wrong. What you fail to see is that the spirits and the villagers did what they had to do. The spirits didn't sanction his killing not because they didn't see the evil I had seen, but because such an action was not sanctioned for me to take."

The Spirit-Master faces his apprentice. "I knew I was going to die for killing the chieftain's son, but that was my role as a healer. I changed the balance of power, I took it upon myself to decide his fate, and so balance had to be restored. It was just for me to be slain by the villagers, that's what the law requires for murder."

The Spirit-Master puts his arms on the Witch-Doctor's shoulders. "Do you understand now? I tried to tell you that it's not just your own willpower that matters, it's the will to do the right thing even when it is forbidden. My death was meant to be your ultimate lesson."

The Witch-Doctor knocks the Spirit-Master's hands off his body. "What nonsense! I am doing the right thing! Yes, your death certainly taught me a lesson, but it was one I had already learned early in my life when I had to hide beneath the corpses of my family to survive! Standing in front of this tower, wandering through the jungle in mourning, I realized what I'd known all along was true."

The Witch-Doctor grabs a skull from off the ground, holding it out in the air like Yorick. "This land is violence incarnate, and the spirits chose me to be its acolyte."

The Spirit-Master looks into the Witch-Doctor's eyes. "You're wrong. This land didn't choose for you to become violent, the spirits didn't cast this as your fate. You did! You have become as cruel and barbaric as the colonizers and invaders you fight against. Your war will not bring happiness, no joy will come from your victories. Your tyranny will only bring our people sorrow, trapped in your dark reign."

The Spirit-Master extends his hand outward. "I offer you this final chance now, apprentice; purify yourself of this phantom and return back to the light!"

The Witch-Doctor drops the skull, cracking it on the ground. "I'm not your apprentice anymore, Spirit-Master! The day you died, all the light died within me. Now I only serve the darkness, and I will consume this world in warfare until all of it has been conquered by me!"

A tear drips down the Spirit-Master's face. "Then I'm sorry I failed to save you."

Unveiling a dagger from his pocket, the Spirit-Master lunges forward into the Witch-Doctor's chest, plunging the blade into his chest. Stumbling backwards, the Witch-Doctor yanks out the blade and tosses it away. He falls on his knee as blood pours out from the wound and floods down his clothes. Unsheathing a machete from his side, the Spirit-Master walks towards the Witch-Doctor's dying body.

Just as he begins to swing the blade, the Witch-Doctor suddenly catches the hand of the Spirit-Master in mid-air. Flames start shoot out from the Witch-Doctor's eyes, as his blood changes into black tar and his skin turns white. His outfit transforms itself into a suit of armor, and an iron sword manifests itself in his hands. The War-Lord quickly rises from the dead and throws the Spirit-Master back several feet.

Yelling in rage and pounding his chest plate with his sword, the War-Lord stares down the Spirit-Master, whose face is filled with fear at the demonic power standing before him. The War-Lord charges towards him and slices though his machete, then decks the Spirit-Master with the hilt of his sword, sending him to the ground. Towering over his fallen body, the War-Lord plunges his sword into the Spirit-Master's chest, releasing his life force into the surrounding ecosystem like a watery mist.

"Rest in peace, Spirit-Master. Your work is finished. Now I can begin mine."

The avatar of darkness walks over and rests his hand on the surface of the metallic structure, and repeats a strange mantra. Slowly, his wound start to heal, and the landscape starts warping back to the normal. The strange night sky fades away into the day, as the War-Lord returns to his human form and walks back into the forest with his weapon bag; his bloodlust concealed again beneath his mask.


Near the border with Rwanda, aid workers in Goma attempt to handle the overflow of displaced refugees fleeing towards the city. Many are malnourished or diseased, wearing the scars of conflict on their bodies. No country wants to send peacekeepers or supplies to help the suffering, despite the United Nations passing a resolution calling for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. The heart of Africa has been abandoned again.

Undercover UNISAAF soldiers guard the city's airport coordinating limited logistical activates, but without a UN mandate, the agency cannot deploy a sufficient force to contain the anomalies which have surfaced in the conflict. The rest of the occult world is rushing to fill the void, sending their agents and contractors to assess the situation in the Congo, but these organizations have their own agendas for the region.

Though the anti-government coalition has now taken the capital Kinshasa, nobody is certain of how long the new government or the peace will last. Meanwhile, several crowds of people are marching down the city streets, following a convoy of vehicles heading towards the jungle.

"He will end our suffering!" "He will fight for us!" "He will restore the country!"

The chants draw the UNISAAF's attention. An undercover humanitarian worker asks about who the crowd is chanting about.

"He's a Nganga, a healer in the jungle! They say he is in charge of an invincible militia and that he wants to end corruption in our country!"

Reporting the news to her higher-ups, a squad of UNISAAF forces are sent to follow the assembly and report on what they find. Following the convoy in an unmarked jeep, the soldiers drive for several miles deep into the interior of the country, passing by terraced fields and wild marches along the way. The convoy reaches its destination at a large grass clearing next to the Congo river.

A wooden stage filled with musicians and dancers are playing traditional Kongo tunes. The aid workers exit their vehicles and blend into the crowd, approaching the platform. The area is surrounded by soldiers of all ages carrying heavy-caliber weapons, some of which bear the symbol of the red flame, which are immediately noticed by the UNISAAF operatives.

The songs end, and the crowd claps. A short period of silence follows as the assembled musicians and dancers leave the stage. Suddenly from the crowd, a man begins to shout. "That was wonderful, wasn't it?! Traditional music, traditional dances, traditional musical instruments-"

A soldiers begins to walk forward from the crowd towards the stage. "Traditional Kongo culture! What happened to it?! It's gone!" The man climbs up on the stage, and grabs a microphone.

"It's gone, they banned it. You all know who I speak of, the Mundele, the colonizers from Belgium and the West. You see, though we regained independence decades ago, we still have to deal with the mark they left on our country. Most of our people follow foreign faiths, they live with foreign names, they work for foreign companies! How is this independence?!"

There are yells of agreement from the crowd. The Witch-Doctor then waves his index finger towards them. "Our independence was a sham! They set us to fail from the beginning! We have been led since then by puppets and traitors who bend backwards to please the rich foreigners while pushing us down into the dirt!" The Witch-Doctor motions downwards with his hand. The crowd shouts louder in agreement.

"Now they say we have a new leader, this guy General Kabila-" The name is jeered by many in the crowd.

The Witch-Doctor paces back and forth on the stage. "This is man who only took power because his friends in Rwanda and Uganda and Burundi and Angola and wherever else put him there! Is this who you want to be your leader?! Do you want these foreign occupiers to come in again and massacre your villages, and plunder the wealth and natural resources that belong to us?!"

A chorus of "No!" is echoed throughout the crowd.

The Witch-Doctor pumps his fist in the air. "Then get ready to fight! We will stand up and fight for our country! I have put together an army to liberate our country, and restore the law and the order to our people. We will go village by village, city by city, until we march on the capital!"

The crowd cheers enthusiastically at the Witch-Doctor's message. "Now, you may say, how can you do this? Your weapons are no match for theirs, they have more men, they have foreign aid, and so on. Yes this is true, but I have a weapon greater than all of theirs!"

The Witch-Doctor equips his gun hanging on his back and loads it. "Bring out the enemies and the traitors!"

A group of blindfolded men with bound hands are brought out by the Witch-Doctor's henchmen. Their uniforms show they come from multiple sides in the war: the AFDL, the CNDD–FDD, UNITA, the ALiR, and so forth.

The Witch-Doctor motions his index finger downward. "Make them kneel before the people!"

As the men are forced to kneel, the Witch-Doctor turns towards the crowd. "What should we do them?!"

Throughout the crowd, chants of "Kill them!" are heard.

The Witch-Doctor smiles. "Do you hear that? The jury has spoken! Let the spirits' will be done!"

The Witch-Doctor discharges the gun into the soldiers, sending a red mist through the air. Smoke rises over the bodies.

The Witch-Doctor lowers his gun. "Now my men, come and stand where they were." The crowd becomes silent in confusion.

The Witch-Doctor grabs a gray cup from his bag and a leather pouch of liquid. Pouring the blue metallic liquid into the hardened clay cup, he hands it to each of the soldiers. "Drink this, and you will be immortal."

After each soldier has drunken the concoction, the Witch-Doctor puts the cup to the side, and points his gun towards the soldiers. The crowd begins to gasp in surprise and fear. "See and believe!"

The Witch-Doctor unloads his gun into the soldiers, sending shrieks of terror into the crowd. However, none of the men appear impacted by the gunshots. A man in the crowd shouts, "They're alive!"

The crowd roars in exuberance. Fueled by the mania, the Witch-Doctor raises his hands in celebration. "Bullets cannot harm us! Death cannot touch us! Once we take Kinshasa, we will move East and free Rwanda and Uganda, then will we spread into South Africa and Sudan and Liberia and free the rest of Africa! Then we will cross the sea and show the imperialists what it feels like to be colony for a few hundred years! Because for once in history, the power is now in our hands to change the world!"

The faces of UNISAAF soldiers are whitened with fear. They quickly escape the crowd and run back to their vehicles in the darkness. They speed out of the encampment quickly, narrowly missing several bystanders on the road. Once arriving back at the airport base, the operatives report their horrific discovery to the agency: An army of zealots are preparing to wage a holy war on the Congo under the authority of a warlord armed with modern steel and arcane magic.


The bright moon above has been covered over, its light unable to pierce through the clouds of smoke, leaving the landscape shrouded in a glowing orange light. Flames spread across the militant's camp, blackening its make-shift huts and structures. The heat cracks through the wood and dried grass in its intensity. The sound of crickets and other insects nearby are silenced in the roar of the fire.

The Witch-Doctor grabs a nearby torch and lays the orange and red flames on the wooden and grass canopy stage. The rainforest has shielded the insurgency from outside threats for years, but now that the tides of war have changed, the militants make ready to launch their campaign to conquer the rest of the Congo. They disperse into the surrounding darkness of the jungle, leaving behind only the burnt remains of their encampment and those they've executed.

The dawn breaks over the horizon, casting violet rays of light over the cityscape of Baraka. A light breeze from Lake Tanganyika passes through the surrounding jungle, shimmering with multicolored flowers, shrubs, and leaves. As the morning day progresses, the city comes to life in celebration. Thousands of citizens line up on the concrete roads, awaiting the procession of soldiers marching down the street to arrive.

Though war-weary, the people are nonetheless relieved that the conflict appears to be over. Dances and songs mark their peaceful jubilee. Yet gazing down upon the city from a hilltop are the piercing eyes of the Witch-Doctor though his binoculars. Around him are hundreds of militants of varying ages armed with assault-style weapons. As he sets his binoculars aside, the Witch-Doctor grabs his gun and combat knife, and begins carving symbols into the metal. Looking up at his army of darkness, the Witch-Doctor smiles.

"This is it my friends! Those of you who stuck with me from the beginning will taste the fruits of our struggle. Those of you who are new will enjoy riches like you never had before. Either way, it all belongs to us!"

The Witch-Doctor stands up, putting the knife away. "I have you trained you all for this day, when we strike out against the invaders and traitors. Now that we've taken back our mines and repelled these foreign soldiers, we must finish the job and reclaim our sacred kingdom!"

The Witch-Doctor walks among his army, like a general inspecting the lower ranks. "Those people are celebrating our foreign oppressors! They follow General Kabila's corrupt government, South Kivu is his base of supporters! They cheer the people who killed your loved ones! They are as bad as the enemy!"

The Witch-Doctor stop pacing and looks at his forces. "It's time to restore balance to the Kongo! Let us now pray to Nzambi."

The militants close their eyes; the Witch-Doctor grabs a brush from his pocket and waves in front of each individual soldier while whispering a strange mantra. After each protection spell is cast, the soldier begins to shake and blue sweat drips down their skin. Once the Witch-Doctor has finished, he fires his gun in the air, waking the men up from their trance.

A whistling sound grows louder and louder in the air above the city as the locals celebrate the marching soldiers. Some in crowd begin to hear the noise above the hustle of the parade, and gaze upwards. A small rocket is flying towards the ground, tearing through a cloud as it descends. On the pavement, dust and rocks begins to swirl closer to where the rocket will land, followed rapidly by larger objects like discarded bottles. Several people start to feel pulled closer to the rocket, tripping and flying through the air.

The mortal bomb lands, sending waves of bodies and concrete rubble through the air. Many of the soldiers and crowd members are blown back by the impact and injured by the debris. Those closest to the blast are killed instantly, as their bones and organs shatter from the force of the explosion, and their bodies slam into the ground. Smoke billows up into the air above the carnage, sending a shockwave of fear throughout the city.

The citizens begin to scatter and take cover, as a second mortar bomb comes down, pulling more people towards itself before it explodes. Glass windows on buildings and cars shatter throughout the city. A third mortar bomb breaks though the rooftop of a church building, causing the structure to collapse in a cloud of fire. People are pulled into the air in the trajectory of a fourth rocket as it passes sideways through the sky and slams into the façade of an apartment.

The Witch-Doctor's army descends onto the city, discharging their weapons indiscriminately. Unlike standard ammunition, the bullets fired by these occult guns emit a stream of lighting and fire with them. Those shot by the bullets are electrocuted from the inside, while the fire incinerates the flesh around the wound. A militant fires a grenade-launcher into a bus speeding down the road, killing fifty people in the inferno of twisted metal.

The government soldiers attempt to mount a defense, but are overwhelmed by the sheer number of militants attacking them. Four Toyota trucks with M240 mounted machine guns open fire on the Witch-Doctor's forces, but the bullets bounce off their skin like rubber pellets. Spotting the trucks, the Witch-Doctor takes out the glowing red magazine from his gun, and replaces it with another one glowing yellow. Running and shooting at the vehicles, his bullets pierce through the armored shields and bulletproof glass of the trucks.

After killing the driver of one truck, he quickly equips his machete, and slaughters the gunner. The Witch-Doctor fires the machine gun into random buildings. Those caught in the crossfire are mortally wounded by the size and force of the ammunition reining down on them. A family of five runs out into the street, fleeing from their collapsing shelter. The Witch-Doctor sees them: a father and mother with their two daughter, and in the father's arms is their lifeless son.

The Witch-Doctor contemplates the scene for a moment, then discharges the machine gun into them. As their arms and legs are dismembered from their body, they bleed out on the street. After a few hours, the rest of the militants subdue the rest of the soldiers, and slowly the gunfire comes to an end.

The Witch-Doctor takes out his walkie-talkie. "Cease fire!"

Reaching the city beach, the Witch-Doctor bends down to the water and uses his hands to wash the blood from his face. No more than ten feet away, his militants dump the bodies of the soldiers into a hole in the sand and bury them in an unmarked grave. The Witch-Doctor stares at his reflection, and in the water he does not see the mask of his physical form, but the blackheart at the center of Paradise, with eyes of bloodlust and flames of vengeance.

A young soldier walks up behind him. "The city is secure, it is ours now! What do we do next, sir?"

The War-Doctor stands up and places his hand on the soldier's shoulder, smiling. "Now we go win the war!"

The War-Doctor marks his victory by erecting a new, permanent base camp on the conquered soil, with structures made of sheet metal and concrete. Day by day, more soldiers join his cause, either deceived by his promises of peace or out of desperation. An aircraft sails over the War-Doctor's camp with several bodies hanging from its wings, leaving behind a trail of red mist across the overcast sky.

A familiar businessman visits the camp, dropping off a shipment of MANPADS, anti-tank missiles, and armor-piercing rounds to the newly-crowned War-Lord. Exchanging pleasantries, the two forces of darkness shake hands and part ways again, preparing to capitalize on the chaos embroiling the country.

Over the radio, reports of intergovernmental conflict between opposing forces loyal to the new Congolese government and soldiers from Rwanda and Uganda are broadcast. A second war now engulfs the continent, setting the heart of Africa ablaze once again. Amidst the renewed conflict, local militias have sprung up across the country, loyal to neither side: the Mayi-Mayi.

In the midst of this raging conflict, the War-Doctor has firmly established his dark kingdom along the coast of the majestic and savage Congo river, and now sets his sights on conquering the rest of the world.

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