BRAVE HEART: Blood & Fire - Episode 6

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Quickly Chume’s lifeless body and Obioma were dragged to the stake to burn them. The king who was being patched up ordered the guards, “Don’t burn Obioma! I want her to watch her parents burn instead!” The guard who held Ugonwanyi, Obioma’s mother, hurled her down to the stake. The other guard who held Udeagu hesitated; he was done taking orders from the king. Raising his machete, he lumped off the head of the guard who came to take Udeagu from him. He cut Udeagu lose and took off with him. A few guards went after them, but not courageously. While Obioma watched, her mother and Chume’s dead body were set on fire. From the midst of the fire Ugonwanyi laid a curse on the king and the gods of the land, “King Agadagu cursed are you this day!! The seed of fire you have sown today shall consume your soul and your household!! As I burn in this flame so shall your entire generation be consumed from the earth by fire! Not a soul shall be left to you to bear your name or the names of your ancestors! I curse you gods of Umueze who stand by and watch the innocent burn in flames! None of you shall henceforth be worshiped in this land as gods. Your names shall be curses to this land and shall not so much as be whispered in secret. Cursed is he or she who shall offer sacrifices to you as gods. May their households be consumed by fire!” Ugonwanyi kept cursing until her voice faded.

 Obioma could not stir herself, the horror she had seen and the pain in her heart had drained the life out of her. However king Agadagu was not done yet, he shouted at the top of his voice, “It is said your beauty comes from the gods, now let us see if they will save you! Guards! I no longer have any desire for this filth, whose beauty now stains my land. I give her to you all to deflower before my eyes. When you are done, I will burn her on the stake by first light tomorrow morning. The guards pounced on Obioma and took her virginity from her in the most horrendous manner a woman could ever lose her pride. Even the chiefs who stood in shock at the square could not watch as guards took Obioma in ravaging turns. How she remained alive after that could not be explained. When they were done the king ordered that she be taken to the prison. Like a piece of rag, Obioma was dragged on the sandy ground of Alaoma to the royal prison while the life in her slowly bled away. Behind her was a bloody trail on the ground which stretched from the village square to the royal prison house.

Late into the night, the guard who had betrayed Obioma to king Agadagu came and opened the prison door and lifted Obioma out of the prison. As they made their way out of the prison, Obioma saw headless bodies strewn all over the ground. The guard who bore Obioma on his back had slaughtered his fellow guards while they slept so he could help Obioma escape. He bore her deep into the forest and did not stop running until they had reached Nwa ogba stream where he laid her down beside the stream to get some rest and to allow her clean up herself. When Obioma was done cleaning herself in the stream, the guard gave her a change of cloth and offered her something to eat. While Obioma ate, she asked the guard, “Why are you helping me now? If you had helped me when I asked the first time, all who died today would still be alive by now.” The guard could not look at her; he could only whisper, “Allow me to help you now. When I have helped you get far from Umueze, then I will take my life for the things I have done.” Obioma did not press the subject any further, nor did the guard say more. When she was done eating, the guard bore her on his back and hurried off.

By morning there was alarm at the prison yard; guards were found on the floor with their heads severed and there was no sign of Obioma. When word of what had happened reached king Agadagu, there was little he could do. He was in dire pain from the spear wound he sustained the previous day. Obioma and the guard who rescued her had journeyed far beyond the borders of Umueze by dawn. They would have gone further away if not for Obioma’s intermittently bleeding. The rape attack by the royal guards of Umueze had torn her flesh and caused her much bleeding. As they journeyed the young guard kept trying all the herbs he knew to help stop the bleeding but none worked. After three days of bleeding, Obioma suggested they find shelter in the forest and rest for some days. She believed that if she rested for few days, she would heal faster and then be able to get to her destination faster. She hoped to get to Ugegbe, a land free from the cruelty of the gods and kings. The guard obliged her and they went in search for a shelter, eventually they found one, a shack used by hunters. There they rested and lived off whatever the guard could find in the forest.

Back at Umueze, king Agadagu was not getting any better, his wound had begun to putrefy and spread in spite of the potent charms medicine men and Azunna, the high priest, applied to it. Amongst his twenty-six wives and fifty sons, tension was beginning to build as to who would ascend the throne of Umueze as the new king upon Agadagu’s demise.  Amongst his family members, help to gain advantage against each other was sought with medicine men and priests far and near. Some of Agadagu’s wives slept with powerful men in secret to gain support against each other. While he lay on his sick bed, his servants whispered to him the rumour of what men did with his wives to help them install their preferred sons on the throne of Umueze on his death. Agadagu cursed his misfortune and appealed to the gods to heal him. However as his condition deteriorated, and the infighting amongst his sons and wives reached new heights, Agadagu instructed his personal guards to slaughter those his wives whom he was told gave themselves to men of prominence to help them win the throne of Umueze for their sons. So one ugly morning, eleven of his twenty-six wives were dragged out of their huts and hastily beheaded while their children watched. By evening of the same day, all the prominent men who were accused to have slept with his wives were taken, along with their family members, down to the ancestral shrine of Umueze and burnt alive.

The cruel acts of king Agadagu sent out to his sons, wives and the people of Umueze just the message king Agadagu wanted – their king may be dying, but he was still their king. Not long after king Agadagu’s cruelty to some of his wives and the men accused to have slept with some of his wives, he began to recover from the wound which came by way of the spear which Obioma threw at him. Back in the forest, weeks of rest did just the miracle Obioma had hoped for. Her recovery was miraculous; and while she mended, her vision was growing stronger. Something in her which should not have been roused had been stirred and she would have her revenge. They actually would have continued their journey to Ugebge after a few days of rest, but when the guard saw how much the rest had done good to Obioma, he persuaded her for them to linger a little while longer in the forest. With herbs he attended to her medical needs and scored the forest for bush meat and fruit. After the much needed rest and the medical treatment Obioma received, the guard could tell that Obioma was in good shape to make the journey to Ugegbe and so he asked her, “Obioma you seem alright to me. At least in the last three days you have done a lot for yourself, do you think we should continue to Ugebge?” “I was going to ask you the same question. I feel strong enough to make the journey.” “Then in the morning we will leave for Ugegbe.”

That night the guard packed roasted meat, fresh fruit and water for their journey. Their intention was to leave very early in the morning to avoid running into the warriors of Nsu. The king of Nsu was as much a tyrant as Agadagu. At the slightest provocation he had men butchered or burnt to amuse himself. Obioma knew that they must leave early and must use some of the less traveled roads to avoid them. If Eze Nsu (the king of Nsu) was to capture a lady as beautiful as her, that would be another matter. Before the first cock crow in the morning, Obioma woke up with a fit of panic. In one of her regular night visions she had seen the guard who was helping her his life. She looked around the hut and there was no sign of him. Their traveling pack was neatly packed, the spear he made for her and his machete were kept next to their traveling pack. Obioma grabbed the machete and the improvised lamp the guard made and went outside in search of him. Outside the hut it was pitch dark; even though she had a lamp, the strength of darkness outside seemed to swallow the light from the lamp. It was eerily quiet, only the chirping of crickets was heard. At first she was afraid even to so much as call out the name of the guard. Without being told she knew that spirits roamed the forest, and to call the name of the living to the hearing of the dead at that hour of the day may spell doom for the living; but she had to find the guard.
STORY CONTINUES...

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Written by:

Uzoma Ujor

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Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog: BRAVE HEART: Blood & Fire - Episode 6
BRAVE HEART: Blood & Fire - Episode 6
Nigeria's leading story blog. Epic, Love, Throne, Spirits, Stream, gods, Village Square, Hunters, Shack, Machete, Royal, Prison
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