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It was believed that to take the corpse of a witch to Iyi Abadaba could so enrage the gods to slaughter the royal family and turn their backs on the land. The elders of Ogbede clan conceived that if the royal family could be taken out of the way, the clans in Alaoma could have the royal throne rotated amongst them. To achieve their aim the Ogbede elders sought the help of the god their fathers had brought with them to Alaoma. Sadly, their god was one of the gods in the Igu nmuo pantheon. They secretly went as far as Etiti, to offer sacrifices at Nwangele, in search of answers on how to destroy the royal family in Alaoma. Finally the answer was found; they were required to smuggle the body parts of an old dead witch into the annual sacrifice of the royal family at Iyi Abadaba. The sacrifice was offered at Iyi Abadaba once a year at every Mbomuzo festival. With the answer they sought found, the elders of Ogbede clan assured Igu nmuo that Alaoma shall become theirs, when the gods of Alaoma abandon the land in anger.

When the elders of Ogbede clan returned from Etiti, their first move was to poison Obinze, who was the chief priest then; by that act the eyes of the gods over Alaoma was impaired. Had Obinze died immediately, a new chief priest would have been installed without delay; however he remained terminally ill for three years. A year after Obinze was poisoned, Nwigirigi, the leader of the Ogbede clan, mixed up the body parts of an old dead witch into the sacrifice of Ezeugo, who was then the Eze of Alaoma. Within fourteen market days, members of the royal family began to drop dead in strange manners and some others went missing without a trace. Some drowned in Iyi Abadaba while bathing. Some collapsed in the market place. And a few others wandered into Okata forest and were never seen again.

It was even claimed that the youngest son of Ezeugo was eaten by angry fishes at Iyi Afor. There were so many corpses in Alaoma that the land reeked with acrid stench of death and decay. Nwaigirigi and his entire family, along with the elders of Ogbede clan and some prominent men amongst them were not spared in the rage that swept through the land. The dead amongst the Ogbede clan were denied burial by Iyi Afor; their corpses were taken to Okata forest by young men fortified with special amulets made by Iyi Afor herself. That year, Iyi Afor and Elile went on such a killing spree it was feared that there might not be a man, who could impregnate a woman, left in Ogbede clan. In all the loss suffered by Alaoma, it was the Aboh clan that suffered the most; the royal line was not just broken, it was wiped out. Ever since then, Alaoma had been without an eze (king) to rule over its affairs.

“I am wondering why Ikonne would give such a powerful medicine to you. Who is after you?” Ulari asked Dike, pacing restlessly around the eso tree under which they hang out. “You are a goddess, you should have all the answers,” said Dike sarcastically, teasing her. “Clearly my vision is being hindered for some reason,” Ulari replied, missing the intended sarcasm. “Ikonne knows about your visits to me in my dreams. He said there are those who might want to harm me. He also said that you have come to me at this time for a reason. He mentioned that your name, ‘Ulari,’ comes from the long lost royal family,” Dike explained. By this time Ulari’s head was spinning very fast. She couldn’t understand how Ikonne, a mortal man, could have this much knowledge; and yet she, a goddess was kept in the dark. Having heard enough for the day, Ulari informed Dike, she would like to walk him back to the river and return to the water kingdom to find the answers she needed.

Ogugu, an elder god, was given the task to unravel to Ulari the mystery surrounding her life, and the reason she was allowed to have an affair with a mortal man without incurring the ire of the gods. “Your love with Dike is clearly in violation of our sacred laws as gods. But you must understand that even if we demanded you end your affair with him, you wouldn’t be able to do so. Your soul is bound to his; you must take on mortal form to fulfill the destiny that was denied you ninety-seven years ago,” Ogugu explained. “Elder, do you really mean I have lived a mortal life once?” Ulari queried. “Yes princess, but not once, rather many times. You have not always lived as a god. You are a special being amongst us. The name you bear speaks volume about your life amongst men and gods. You are Nwaulari, guardian of the royal house of Alaoma. Long ago before the conspiracy of the Ogbede clan and Igu nmuo, you were a bride to a prince who was to ascend the throne after the reign of Ezeugo. When the abomination of the Ogbede clan was offered at Iyi Abadaba, you and the prince were spared by the gods. All the members of the royal family were not killed in that furious judgment of the gods as people believe in Alaoma. Some were killed by emissaries from Igu nmuo and that includes you and the prince. When that evil sacrifice was offered at Iyi Abadaba, all the spirits of Igu nmuo invaded Alaoma and the rivers in it. Our world was filled with these spirits who had come to contend our claim as gods in Alaoma and the fourteen villages around it.”

Ulari staring at Ogugu for any signs he might be keeping a lot more knowledge from her asked, “Why don’t I have any knowledge of my previous life amongst men? “Iyi Afor and the elder gods thought it best to keep the knowledge from you. We feared you might permanently lose your god element if the knowledge stayed with you for so long.” “What now do the elder gods and my mother require of me now?” Ulari asked, not because she did know the answer, but because so much secret had been kept from her. “I believe you have heard of the legend of Asanma. If you will believe it, you and Asanma are one and the same person. Through times you have taken different forms to serve the commands of the gods. Yet again you must take on mortal form to rebuild the lost royal family of Alaoma.”  Ulari, determined find out as much as she could asked, “Who is Dike? Was he the prince to whom I was married to in my last mortal life?” “Yes, he is. He has been reborn to take the throne that was his, and you shall rule with him as his queen.”

Ulari still asking questions wanted to know who Dike’s parents were. Ogugu informed her that Kafor was the last surviving member of the royal family. During the consequent retribution which followed the conspiracy of the Ogbede clan and their gods, Igu nmuo; a damsel pregnant for a royal prince had escaped to Ikwere land where she lived and nursed her son. She was not of royal blood herself, but the child she carried was. She returned many years later to live as a widow so to hide her true identity. The baby she brought forth was Kafor, the father of Dike. It was not Kafor’s destiny to be crowned king. His destiny was to give birth to the man whose right to the throne was denied by the atrocity of the Ogbede clan.

Before Dike could be crowned eze, he must first prove to all the gods that he was indeed of pure royal blood by going to swim at Iyi Abadaba by night. After swimming in the river, he shall also entreat the gods to return the missing royal crown of Alaoma. The returning of the royal crown would be a sign to all that there was a man in Alaoma who was of royal blood. Once the man made his identity known, thirty days of preparation for his coronation would be declared. Within those thirty days the would-be eze would unveil his bride to the elders of the land. The bride must be of royal blood or related to any royal blood in some way.

After seven days of searching for answers, Ulari returned to Dike, this time in his dream and not in Okata forest. She in details explained to Dike all she had found out about herself and Dike’s life. She informed Dike that in three days she and some elder gods from the river kingdom would pay Ikonne a visit. Ikonne shall select the elders who would accompany him to watch Dike present himself before the gods at Iyi Abadaba.  Dike was stunned by all he had heard. He and his people had all along been royalty and they didn’t know it. He found out why Ulari couldn’t kill him that day at Iyi Afor; they were married to each other in their former lives when kings ruled the land. Dike couldn’t wait to wake up to break the news to his father, but he was forbidden to do so. He must wait for Ikonne to inform his father.     STORY CONTINUES...

Written by:
Uzoma Ujor

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