The journey up the mountain was a long and cold one. Magnetic cuffs bound the hands of the disgraced Border Tribe chief, W'Kabi, along with the exiled false King of Wakanda, Erik Killmonger.
The man was given a choice of life and death. T'Challa practically begged his cousin not to let his pride take his life. Erik was dead set on ending his life after losing the fight to his cousin. He reluctantly accepted the pardon from the King.
His cousin assured him that Wakanda would use its resources to give foreign aid to all of its African people around the world. While the King disagreed with Killmonger's methods, he determination opened his eyes to bigger picture.
That didn't excuse him from his actions though. He had hurt many even taken a few lives and the King had to make his cousin answer for that.
A staff jabbed at the man, bringing him out of his thoughts. The Jabari soldier tilting his head signaling for Erik to keep moving. Both he and W'Kabi were given pardons for their actions, and in exchange, they were sent to live with the Jabari indefinitely.
M'Baku was not happy about this at first. Confused as to how it became his responsibility to babysit a traitor and a lunatic. T'Challa assured his newfound ally that this would be good for all of them. Plus, the King would have his own spies patrolling around the mountain the prevent any attempt at escaping.
It wasn't the greatest arrangement, but it was the best one for now. M'Baku reluctantly went along with the arrangement but took every moment to visibly show his distaste for it.
The giant gorilla statue came into view as they rounded the corner of a slope. Falling in line, the Jabari soldiers led the men inside the fortress and through the halls.
M'Baku stood from his seat as the two men were led inside his throne room. The staffs held by the soldiers struck the ground once, loudly. W'Kabi knelt before the King of the mountain. Killmonger defiantly stood where he was. The soldier to his right spun his staff before striking the back of his leg forcing him to his knees.
M'Baku threw his head back and laughed. It was a hearty one that echoed through the chambers.
"Welcome" M'Baku said stepping down from the steps. He approached the two men slowly. W'Kabi hesitantly rose and put a hand on Killmonger's shoulder to help him up who shrugged it off.
"Your royal highness thought it MY responsibility to take you two in" he said circling them. "I didn't want to of course. I still don't. You both stink of treason and ego."
Killmonger snorted. M'Baku abruptly turned to face the outsider.
"Did I say something funny N'Jadaka?" he said getting in the man's personal space. Erik frowned at the name.
"As a matter of fact-" he started,
"No!" both sets of eyes turned towards W'Kabi. "You didn't sir. You haven't said anything funny."
M'Baku studied the man approvingly before turning his attention back to Killmonger.
"I like your friend there N'Jadaka. He knows how to respect someone when he sits in their home" M'Baku said.
"Erik" Killmonger said.
"What was that?"
"My name. It's Erik. I only used my birth name to challenge the King. I'd prefer if you called me by the name 'I' chose" he practically said through clenched teeth
M'Baku was silent for moment. He turned and waved his hand dismissively.
"Sure, fine. I guess I can allow you that much" he said as he approached his throne again. He sat down on it and shook his head at the two.
"What a mess of things you two have made. Mostly for me. But worry not, your stay here won't be a vacation. I'm putting you two to work. You stay with Jabari tribe, you will work like Jabari" the man said matter-of-factly.
M'Baku waved his waved his hands to the guards who came over and released the lock on the magnetic cuffs.
"That girl....Shuri. She made those. The impudent princess who shuns tradition" M'Baku said shaking his head disapprovingly.
"Now me, I'd have preferred rope. Good, old fashioned rope. Nothing like a little rope burn to build character" he said laughing. Killmonger rolled his eyes.
"Enough jokes though. Let's lay down the ground rules shall we?" he said rhetorically. "One, you are free to roam but there is no escaping these mountains. My men or our 'glorious' King's will find you and return you. You will remain here until I say otherwise. Two, you will earn your keep here. Whether it be food or otherwise. I will not hold the hands of two men. And three, no harm will come to any of my people here from you. I would kill you myself if I thought otherwise."
W'Kabi stoically stood at attention. While he heard the man's words in front of him, his thoughts drifted to the woman he hurt. He could have never brought any harm to Okoye of all people. He doesn't even regret surrendering. But his relationship is definitely over. She said she cannot love a man who commits atrocities towards his home and people. Okoye forgives him and that's the only solace he took from the ordeal. The rest of the Border Tribe is under the watch of the Dora Milaje back down the mountain.
Killmonger took in the scenery on the way up from the mountain. He memorized every possible escape route. Where he'd go if he managed to, he didn't know, but he wasn't about to give up his freedom for that unfit King.
"Now that this is all out of the way, my men will escort you to your shared living arrangements. You will also be stripped of your clothing and any possibly weapons" M'Baku said.
At both men's wide eyes, M'Baku laughed.
"Worry not, you will be given the latest in Jabari fashion" he said laughing. He got up from his throne again approaching the two men. He stopped to bend down to their height before clasping both of their shoulders.
"Welcome to the mountains" he said patting their hands before rubbing their hair. W'Kabi didn't react to the gesture but Killmonger practically fumed with anger.
True to his word, afterwards they were led to a private chamber where the two were required to undress. To avoid awkwardness, the two didn't face each other as they did, disrobing and dawning the clothing left for them.
After exiting, they each handed a woman waiting outside their old clothing who left promptly with them. Then, they were led to their room which was at the upper level of the fortress. M'Baku's own room was just down the hall.
Taking in their surroundings, the two men saw that their room had two beds. Both with comforters and pillows. An animal head hung upon the back wall. The room also had one, simple looking mirror. Killmonger grabbed hold of the cool bedding sneering in disgust.
He looked over at W'Kabi who was climbing underneath the covers.
"What the hell are you doing?" He demanded.
"What people usually do when the sun goes down. Sleep. It's night, I walked half the day and I'm tired" W'Kabi answered.
"We can sleep AFTER we leave this place" Killmonger shot back. W'Kabi turned over from where he lay in the bed.
"I know listening isn't your strongest trait but if you don't recall, there IS no escape. We are here until M'Baku or the King decides that we can leave."
"And you just accept that!?"
"What happened to that warrior spirit? You just gon lay down and let them practically enslave us to the place?" W'Kabi laughed quietly.
"I forget that you never grew up here. This my friend, is the definition of getting off easy. Not even an exile. Trust me, it could be a lot worse" he said turning back in the covers facing away from the other man. There was a pause before W'Kabi spoke again.
"I fought for you and we lost to a better opponent. In hindsight, you were wrong, and I don't know about you Navy Seal, but I am not fighting pointless battles anymore."
"So, you are just giving up then."
"If that's what you want to believe N'Jadaka"
"My name is Erik!"
"Quiet in there!" Came a voice from outside.
"Go to sleep 'Erik'" W'Kabi said stressing the pronunciation. "Knowing the Jabari, you'll want to have your strength for tomorrow."
Erik stood in disbelief at how quickly the man gave in. He stood defiantly looking for a possible escape route. There was only one way in or out and no windows. He yawned cursing that the other man was right.
He'd figure out a way to leave him eventually, he thought as he lied in the bed. Eventually, he'd leave his place but he didn't know what he'd do after that.