As the party approaches the Kakuana capital of Loo, the land becomes lusher and more beautiful. Upon entering the city, Quatermain sees an amazing display of military might, for in Kakuanaland all men are soldiers. The men also see three precipitous mountain peaks about seventy miles away, which the Kakuanas call the “Three Witches.” In quiet conference, the men agree that this must be the site of King Solomon’s diamond mine. Infadoos confirms this be relating how people of old came from distant lands to go to these mountains for something—he does not say what, but is satisfied to learn that Quatermain rightly asserts that it was to obtain shining stones. Infadoos explains that it is the Place of Death for the Kakuanas, where all their chiefs are buried upon death. In a mysterious turn, Umbopa also confirms that the diamonds are in the mines of the “Three Witches,” claiming that he dreamed it so it is true. He explains himself no further.
The men arrive in Loo to find that they have a hut each prepared for them complete with tanned hide bed and food. Despite the lavish accommodations, the men insist on having their beds all moved to the same hut for safety purposes. The men then sleep through until the sun is high the next day. Infadoos arrives after their breakfast to bring word that the king, Twala, is ready to see the men. Quatermain cleverly delays their meeting with Twala to keep the king from thinking the white men are at his beck and call. When they arrive in Twala’s enclosure, they find him surrounded by the Kakuana rank-and-file, numbering between seven and eight thousand men. Twala himself is an imposing figure, described as having cruel features and a less European look than many of the Kakuana. Twala’s son, Scragga, was at his father’s side, along with something Quatermain describes as a “withered-up monkey” (actually the wise woman Gagool).
Twala begins the greeting ceremony, which consists of reverential call-and-response with his thousands of soldiers. During one of the silent intervals, a young soldier drops his shield. Angered at the disruption, Twala calls the man forward to be punished. As the slightest infraction at a ceremony honoring the king is punishable by death, Scragga is called upon to kill the offender, which he does by impaling him with his spear. Sir Henry becomes enraged and must be restrained by Quatermain, who sees the futility of Sir Henry’s ire among so great a number of hostile men.
Twala then addresses the travelers directly, addressing them as “people from the stars” but simultaneously challenging them by stating that the stars are far away and the men are here in his domain. Quatermain warns Twala against arrogance and reminds him of the “speaking stick” the he used in the sight of the king’s son Scragga. Twala wants to see a demonstration of this power and offers one of his own men as the target. Quatermain insists that the white men will not kill except for food, and Twala again challenges their authority. Quatermain suggests that if the king would like a demonstration on a human being, Twala should offer himself or his son. This suggestion brings Twala up short, and the king agrees to the men’s earlier request that an ox be brought for the demonstration. An ox is released, but Quatermain gives the shot to Sir Henry, insisting that the Kakuanas need to see that Alan Quatermain is not the only “sorcerer” among them. Sir Henry makes the shot and kills the ox, which is then butchered and served up in a feast that afternoon. The men then give Twala the gift of one of their Winchester repeating rifles, along with the admonition not to use the power it has on other men lest that same power destroy Twala himself.
Gagool then begins a mad prophecy in which she claims to have seen white men come through here before, long before any of the other Kakuana can remember. She warns her people that the whites will return to “devour” them. She also points out to Sir Henry that, though he seeks one who is lost, no white man has set foot in Loo for generations. Following Gagool’s prophecy, Twala declares that he is inclined to kill the men on the spot. Quatermain counters with the example of the ox—if they can kill an ox from afar, would Twala like to challenge their power? Twala agrees that he will leave the men alone for the time being and they may rest safely, but he makes no guarantees what he will decide come tomorrow.
When the men reach their hut, Quatermain calls Infadoos inside for a private conversation. He observes that Twala is a cruel man, to which Infadoos agrees. He offers them further proof of Twala’s cruelty tonight at the “witch hunts,” in which Gagool and her appointed witch-finders “smell out” those who think evil of the king. These targets inevitably turn out to be political rivals or wealthy men, either of whose deaths would benefit Twala. When asked why the people do not rebel against Twala, Infadoos replies that his son, Scragga, is even worse and would make a more terrible ruler. Infadoos bemoans the loss of Imotu and his son Ignosi; Umbopa suddenly interjects that Infadoos does not know Ignosi is truly dead. He takes up the tale of Ignosi and his mother from the point in Infadoos’ account where mother and child fled to the mountains: they reached the Amazulu people, kin of the Kukuana, and stayed with them for many years. When Ignosi’s mother died, the young man journeyed to the land of the white people to learn their wisdom. He learned and waited until the opportunity afforded itself to return to Kukuanaland with men seeking a lost brother. To Infadoos’ incredulous retort, Umbopa replies, “I am Ignosi, rightful king of the Kukuanas!” As proof, Umbopa slips off his “moocha” and reveals the serpent tattoo found only on Kukuana royalty.
The entire group is amazed at this revelation. Infadoos kneels before Umbopa, recognizing him as Ignosi, his rightful ruler. Umbopa/Ignosi swears Infadoos to loyalty, and then asks the white men to help him with his overthrow of Twala. He offers the men diamonds, but Sir Henry rejects the offer in favor of assisting Ignosi simply because Twala deserves to be destroyed. Good also joins the revolution: his only stipulation is that he be allowed to wear trousers. Quatermain, however, proclaims his mercenary nature and accepts the diamonds as payment; he then insists they also find Sir Henry’s brother if at all possible. To this, Ignosi questions Infadoos for information and learns that there have been no white men in this land in Infadoos’ lifetime. This news leads Sir Henry to conclude that his brother died somewhere along the way and never made it this far in his trek.
When asked about his plan, Ignosi admits that he has none. Infadoos offers to sound out the various leaders of the tribe individually, for he believes many of the soldiers will turn against the vile Twala. Their plotting is interrupted by three emissaries from Twala, each bearing a shirt of shining chainmail and a battle-axe. These gifts to the white men demonstrate either Twala’s pleasure or his fear in entertaining the white men in Loo. Infadoos suggests they wear the chainmail tonight at the witch-hunt. When asked about their origins, Infadoos admits that none of the living Kukuanas know how to fashion such armor or weapons—they have been handed down from their forefathers.
The men rest until the full moon, at which time the population of Loo is called to Twala’s enclosure for the witch-hunt. At the sight of twenty thousand men arranged in regiments, Quatermain asks Infadoos if this is the entire army. Infadoos tells him that this is only a third of the soldiers—another third remains outside the enclosure in case there is trouble during the ceremony, ten thousand more men are garrisoned at various outposts, and the rest man the kraals throughout the countryside. The silence of the soldiers astounds the men; Infadoos explains that they are solemn as each one faces the possibility of his own death this night. Twala arrives and seats himself at a central throne, then the witch hunt begins.
Gagool leaps up from her place at Twala’s feet and calls for the ceremony to start. At Twala’s command, the soldiers begin a loud song covering the various phases of life, from young love to death. Then a group of aged, white-haired women, their faces painted in white and yellow stripes, come forth and declare their presence to Gagool. The old wise woman sets them loose upon the people to find those who think evil toward Twala. The women dance for a while, crying out their ability to locate the “witches,” then begin touching men with forked sticks. Each man touched is pinned by his neighbors and stabbed through the heart by Twala. To ensure death, each man speared is also clubbed violently on the head. Twala counts the victims (whom he calls “sacrifices”) and eventually reaches over one hundred.
Gagool makes her way toward Quatermain’s party, causing the men concern. She indicates that Umbopa is a witch and must die. The men stand their ground as Quatermain asks Twala to bow to the ancient laws of hospitality and let him live. When Twala insists that Umbopa must die, Quatermain levels his revolver at Twala and tells the people that if anyone touches Umbopa, their king will die. The outmaneuvered Twala then allows Umbopa to live—because of hospitality, he says, not out of fear. The ceremony comes to an abrupt end and the men return to their hut. There they await Infadoos.
Umbopa’s hidden heritage comes out again in his seeming certainty that the diamond mines of Solomon reside near the Three Witches. His inscrutable statement only serves to make Quatermain more uncertain of the man, but nonetheless reminds the three white men of the ostensible goal of their quest. Interestingly, the Mines are considered prior to Sir Henry’s query about his brother Neville—it seems as though the men have become distracted in more than one instance from their original designs. This lends an air of amazement to the land of Kukuanas, in that it can so overwhelm the men that they forget—for a time—their search for wealth or relations.
Twala is introduced here as an antagonist. He is “an enormous man with the most entirely repulsive countenance we had ever beheld. The lips were as thick as a Negro’s, the nose was flat, it had but one gleaming black eye (for the other was represented by a hollow in the face), and its whole expression was cruel and sensual to a degree” (Haggard 127) All the qualities of the African male that Europeans see as negative are combined in Twala: he is harsh in his judgments (as shown immediately later by his execution of a soldier who accidentally stepped out of line) and inhumanly large; also of note is that Twala is much darker-skinned than Umbopa or most of the other Kukuanas. Compared to Twala, Umbopa, Infadoos, and other “friendly” Kukuanas are closer to white in appearance.
Prior to their audience with Twala, the white men assert their superiority by refusing to come immediately when Twala summons them. As Quatermain explains, “It is always well, when dealing with uncivilized people, not to be in too great a hurry. They are apt to mistake politeness for awe or servility” (Haggard 125-126). By declaring the Kukuanas “uncivilized,” Quatermain contradicts his earlier assessment of them in chapter 8; clearly the European view of the African people is one full of contradictions, which Haggard subtly points out in his narrator’s shortcomings.
Twala, however, is subject to the same “savage” notions as other Kukuanas. Quatermain displays his prowess with the Winchester rifle and offers it to Twala as a gift, but with the caveat that should he use the weapon to take human life, it will instead destroy the king himself. That Quatermain uses the language of witchcraft when dealing with Twala demonstrates his self-important attitude: no non-European could understand the mechanism of a rifle and so will attribute its power to sorcery.
Gagool is also introduced here, briefly. If Twala embodies all that is bad about the Kukuana man, Gagool represents all that is wrong with Kukuana femininity (and the female in general). Gagool is even more inhuman, described as a “wizened monkey-like creature creeping up from the shadow of the hut” (Haggard 132). She is the type of the dangerous female, old where the ideal female is nubile, hideous where the female should be beautiful, and possessed of crafty intelligence and dark knowledge rather than the innocence of the feminine ideal. Gagool claims knowledge of previous white men, and declares that these newcomers will share their fate; since Infadoos has already proclaimed the white men strangers to this land for generations, this implies that Gagool has lived for several generations. Her place as a schemer behind the Kukuana throne even before Twala was born adds to this effect.
Umbopa reveals himself to be the lost prince and rightful heir to the Kukuana throne. His moment of (literal) unveiling includes a re-naming: he is no longer Umbopa, but Ignosi, “the lightning.” Infadoos is convinced and plans to convince the other tribal leaders. It is clear that the political situation under Twala’s rule, while dangerous, favors a change in leadership. Here social upheaval, moral justice, and fate come together to push Ignosi toward his birthright. To deepen the contrast between the two men, Haggard immediately has Twala hold his semi-regular “witch hunt” to find those among the Kukuanas who oppose him and eliminate them. While highlighting Twala’s cruelty, this incident also “mimes England’s own early witch-hunts in the brutal manner by which the native seek out and destroy the supposed ‘wicked ones’” (Brackett 1). The reader is faced with politically-motivated violence the like of which transcends race and time, so it is no surprise that Gagool would be at the center of this horrible ritual.
The agents of the witch hunt are all women, “most of them aged, for their white hair, ornamented with small bladders taken from fish, streamed out behind them. Their faces were painted in stripesof white and yellow; down their backs hung snake-skins, and round their waists rattled circlets of human bones” (Haggard 147). These are Gagool’s acolytes, and as such take part in their priestess’s denigration of the female element in the world. They bring destruction to otherwise strong and admirable men, suggesting the role of the female as a threat to masculinity and to true honor. Everyone knows the men chosen as “wicked” are in fact men who have been overheard criticizing Twala—nonetheless, the entire assembly ascribes the witch-finders’ powers to supernatural rather than political sources.
The body count rises to one-hundred; Twala’s rituals are bloody and excessive. However, the high number of casualties also suggests that the leader’s power base is not as stable as he would like—to find one hundred men among the tribe who have expressed doubts about Twala cannot help but suggest there are many, many more yet undiscovered. In addition, Gagool oversteps herself when she indicates Umbopa/Ignosi is one of the “witches.” Twala is forced to save his own life (threatened by Quatermain) and save face by claiming the laws of hospitality forbid him to kill Ignosi as indicated. This turnabout serves as the first crack in Twala’s wall of authority, since the people have now seen him admit that Gagool is not always correct in her assessments of “witches.”