BRAVE HEART: Blood & Fire - Episode 10

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Nigeria's leading story blog. Epic Story, Love, Death, The Dead, gods, River, Head Cutter.

Far away in Umueze, king Agadagu lay awake in his bed with his new wife asleep beside him. Having killed eleven of his wives, he was eager to restock his store of wives. His mind was not at peace, something was wrong. A storm was coming, he could feel it. The gods were kind enough to impress it on him but too stingy with details. Clad in nothing, he got out of his bed quietly. He picked a glistening blade by his bedside and stepped out of his large royal hut. Outside, his guards were groggy with sleep. He tightened his grip on the blade and swung it several times through the air. The truth was there for him to see. His footwork was bad and his hand felt weak. Old age had taken its toll on him. Back in his hay days, he had fun killing men in battle.  He sighed, drove his machete into the ground and went back into his hut to be with his new wife.

If her words did anything, they only drove the dead and Azi River mad. The hands which held her feet increased and the river rose high in the air and covered her. In a split second, Obioma went down the sand and angry river. Afar off, a head cutter who had followed Obioma to the river stood in awe and watched the strange sight. Over and over again, the head cutter asked himself, “Who is this woman who spoke to the evil river and the dead and they heard her. No wonder I could not take off her head.” Under the sand and river, Obioma fought viciously to break free. It took a long while before she understood what was happening. The river and the dead were not trying to kill her; they were rather passing their strength to her. As she fought the dead and the river, she realized she was moving too fast and was able to breathe freely as though she was on the ground. She thought aloud, “They are not trying to kill me! No, they are not!” Then she stopped fighting, and waited to see what would happen. To her surprise, the river and the dead stopped also. Then a voice whispered to her, “Both the dead and the river are now one with you and you are one with the dead and the river. Wherever you go, we go. Whoever you fight, we fight and whoever opposes you, opposes us.”

Obioma’s sense of hearing had heightened after her encounter with the dead and the river. She could hear the rustling of grass some distance behind her. In a breathtaking move she swung around, picked a human bone from the ground and made to attack whoever it was that had come after her. The look of her face and the energy with which she came for him made the head cutter let out a cry for mercy, “I am for you! Kill me not! I am for you!” How Obioma covered the distance between her and the head cutter stunned both of them. The head cutter prostrated on the ground and raised his head to look at the woman who stood over him with a bone in her hand. Obioma looked unbelievably from the head cutter to the spot where she was when she heard him coming. Clearly something she did not ask for had happened to her. Turning her attention to the head cutter, she barked, “Stand to your feet!” The head cutter hurried to his feet terrified. “Your hands are stained with blood. Who are you?” Obioma asked. “I am a head cutter from Oru Mba. I and my men parade these parts for human heads.” He went on his knees and continued, “I spotted you coming this way so I followed you hoping to take your head from you. Forgive me. I did not know you are a messenger of the gods. Spare my life please.”

“I am not a messenger of the gods. I serve no god except chiukwu. I am death. I will spare your life only if you swear to me by these bones here that you and your men will serve me from this day till the day I release you.” “I will serve you till death and so shall my men serve you. What would you have me do?” “Take these bones in both hands and swear by them.” The head cutter sprang to his feet, took two bones in his hands and swore to Obioma that he and his men would serve her till they die or she released them. While he invoked curses on himself and his men; about twelve men came upon the shore. They were all armed with machetes. Dropping the machetes to the ground, they joined the head cutter who was swearing on the shore. Obioma was surprised, she had expected them to attack her, instead they went on their knees and invoked curses on themselves to serve her. When they were done, Obioma asked, “Who are you men?” “We are head cutters form Oru Mba. The man before you is our master.” “Head cutter what is your name? Obioma asked the chief head cutter. “I am Nwandu the son of Ngwu. I and my men live by killing. We are at your service madam.”

In Nsu, Okiti had fled by night with his three wives and children. The warrior who helped Obioma was already moving from house to house, persuading his colleagues to head to Ugegbe with him to serve a greater purpose. Eze Nsu had stayed up all night in Utaka’s shrine waiting for him to reveal by divination what he should do. For Some reason the gods of Nsu had refused to speak in clear terms. Either they were preparing to run or had already taken to their heels. Death was coming, a woman was bringing it and behind her was an army of the dead and the living. In Umueze the gods sent them a sign. A woman had fled her house when the pieces of yam she was cooking sprouted a new shoot in a boiling pot. King Agadagu and the chief priest Azunna were sent for to witness the ill omen.

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item An African Literary Blog: BRAVE HEART: Blood & Fire - Episode 10
BRAVE HEART: Blood & Fire - Episode 10
Nigeria's leading story blog. Epic Story, Love, Death, The Dead, gods, River, Head Cutter. An African Literary Blog
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