BRAVE HEART: Blood & Fire - Episode 5

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Nigeria's leading story blog. Epic Story, Love, Fire, Priest, gods, King, Ancestors, Shrine Maid. Village Square.

While Mazi Udeagu was in a meeting with his family scheming how to escape from Umueze, the warrior Obioma asked to help her and her parents get to Obolo, was with king Agadagu, revealing to him  what Obioma had asked him to do, “I was shocked when she mentioned Obolo. It appears they do not approve of you as a fitting husband for her. Your majesty maybe they are planning to run away.” King Agadagu thought over what the warrior told him and then said, “You may be right young warrior. Only today, Udeagu told me that there is a young man in Ezele to whom he has given Obioma’s hand in marriage. He said he will be going there to inform them that the proposed wedding won’t be taking place and settle with them. He turned down the one thousand pieces of Ejenma which I gave to him…” “What!” shouted the young warrior. King Agadagu continued, “Why is he going as far as Obolo instead of to Ezele to settle with the young man who he promised he would give Obioma to? This is what you will do for me by tomorrow, go to Ezele and find out if any young man there has been given Obioma’s hand in marriage. Such a thing should be news in Ezele. In these parts no one has ever seen a beauty like Obioma, if indeed a young has been promised he will marry her, it should make news there. While you are at it post some warriors to watch Obioma and her parents day and night.”

The next day the young warrior hurried down to Ezele to make his enquiries, while Obioma and her parents explored other means to leave Umueze. When the young warrior returned he went straight to king Agadagu and informed him that Udeagu’s claims were all lies. The king was not happy about that. His anger flared up. He asked the young man to tell him exactly what Obioma said she and her parents were going to Obolo to do. “She said they were going to get medicine to appease her ancestors so they would let her have male children when she marries you.”  King Agadagu paused for a moment, thought over what the warrior had said and then said, “That is a good reason to travel out of Umueze, but why Obolo? There are native doctors that can prepare the same medicine here. I understand that Udeagu had many male children and they all died. It is believed his ancestors killed his male children. Young warrior, leave me to decide what to do.” That night Obioma and her parents disguised themselves and sneaked into the forest of Umueze by the dead of the night, in hope to get as far as they could from Umueze before dawn. They had hardly journeyed far into the heart of the forest when some warriors intercepted them and brought them back to Umueze. They took them to the palace and presented them to king Agadagu. The king was furious when he heard of their attempt to escape from Umueze, “I saved your daughter from becoming a shrine maid and now this is how you want to pay me back Udeagu! The only reason I haven’t strung a noose around your neck right now is that in a short time, you will be receiving dowry from me for you daughter Obioma. Now I want you to go back to your house and prepare for my arrival seven days after Ekweke’s burial.”

Obioma stepped forward before the king and bowed down and hailed the king as their custom was, “Your majesty, may you live long.” “May you also live long, the sunshine of Umueze,” King Agadagu replied her. “Your majesty may your anger not burn for what I am about to say, but it is the truth. I Obioma the daughter of Udeagu, a descendant of the legendary lion slayers of Umueze, do not wish to be your bride. To marry a man, though a king and great king at that, who is thirty years older than I am is no desire of mine your majesty.” No one in the palace could explain how Obioma found the courage to utter those words. She spoke boldly as though she was ignorant of the king’s inflammable temperament. The guards and her parents could not believe her words. Udeagu leapt forward to defend his daughter’s brazen words, “Your majesty…” “Shut up Udeagu!” The king shouted him down. “I have heard your daughter’s words. Now you and your family will know the extent of my rage! Guards! Take them to the prison! If by morning your daughter does not change her mind about my proposal, then I will burn the man she loves right before her eyes. Take them away!”

All that night, Udeagu and his family prayed to all the gods known to them for deliverance, including Chiukwu whom no one in Igbo land knew how to appease or serve. Obioma wished that the day would not dawn, but sadly the night lasted only for a short time. It was the shortest night she had witnessed in Umueze. At the first gleam of dawn Obioma and her parents were dragged down to the village square. Upon their arrival they saw Chume tied to a tree and a heap of firewood around him. The new shrine guards stood, ready to burn him. After some moments King Agadagu arrived with his entourage. From the ancestral shrine, Azunna, the new high priest of Umueze ambled into the centre of the village square.

As though under the influence of the gods, Azunna staggered around, raising his head like a serpent ready to strike a prey and then roared, “Obioma Udeagu! Have you made up your mind to please the gods by accepting king Agadagu as your husband? Or have you decided to condemn the man we all know you love to the flames of the gods by refusing the king’s advances?” Like a wounded lioness, Obioma roared, her voice shredding the early morning peace, “You do not force a bride into marriage by threatening to burn those she loves! Oh king! You can burn a thousand men whom I love and I will still not marry you! If you are man enough, I dare you to win my heart like the brave man whom you are about to burn!” Her words were like obscenities to the ears which heard them. No one had ever spoken to the king in that manner before. The king was mad, he felt humiliated, his volatile temper flared and he shouted, “Burn the man on the stake! Burn him! Burn Chume!”

Chume had hoped to beg for his life to be spared. It had been his intention to appeal to Obioma to marry the king so he could be spared, but the turn of events made him change his mind. Obioma’s words, her courageous outburst gave him strength; for once the fear of being burnt alive lost its grip on him. As the shrine guards drew near, he pulled at the ropes which tied him to the stake like a bear robbed of her whelps. The ropes came loose and he picked a log of wood from the floor and aimed a blow at the guard who had come to set him on fire and the guards skull exploded. Seeing he had broken free, royal guards and shrine guards tried to take him down but he was too fast for them. With the log of wood in his hands, he smashed their skulls as they came for him one after another. Even when they pierced him with their spears he didn’t wince. He fought through them heading for the king.

The sight of Chume fighting like a beast sent fear into the hearts at the square. Whatever took hold of Chume must have gotten into Obioma, she leaned toward the guard who held her and sunk her teeth into his neck and tore his flesh open. The guard went to the ground as blood spurted from his neck, Obioma shook herself loose from the ropes with which they bound her and picked the guard’s spear; she had not held a spear before nor had cause to use one. She narrowed her gaze on the king’s chest and let the spear fly; it had been long since king Agadagu saw war and had grown old and too fat. He tried to evade the spear, but Obioma had thrown it with great force, the spear sunk into his shoulder and sent him off his high sitting position and onto the ground. Chume couldn’t reach the king to finish him off before the many spears of the guards sent him to the ground. Obioma cried and ran to Chume who lay on the ground bleeding from many spear wounds. Before the guards who were busy attending to their king could return to separate them, Chume whispered to Obioma, “Promise me you will stay alive to set our people free from the gods and the king who oppress them.” Still crying Obioma replied, “I will. I promise you I will kill them all. I will burn the gods and slaughter the king and his household. I will behead the high priest and his shrine guards. I will kill them all!” Chume smiled and said to her, “Kill them all.” He stopped breathing and didn’t speak another word. Obioma yelled in pain, grabbed a broken spear and sprang to her feet; the guards gave her no chance to fight, they descended on her in numbers and subdued her.

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BRAVE HEART: Blood & Fire - Episode 5
Nigeria's leading story blog. Epic Story, Love, Fire, Priest, gods, King, Ancestors, Shrine Maid. Village Square. An African Literary Blog
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