BRAVE HEART: Blood & Fire - Episode 11

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Nigeria's leading story blog. Epic Story, gods, Warrior, Battle, War, Blood, Old, King, Heads.

King Agadagu and Azunna ran down to their ancestral shrine and began to consult the gods immediately to find an answer for the evil omen which they had witnessed. For a piece of yam to sprout while in a boiling pot was a harbinger of evil. About half an hour, Azunna labored before their gods to find out what was responsible for the sign which had been given to them. A sign came from the gods amongst the cowries on the mat. Azunna studied the sign closely. “No! This is not possible! The old ways cannot be changed!” Azunna shouted. “What are the gods saying Azunna?” asked king Agadagu impatiently. “The old ways are in danger of being swept away. An army is heading our way with new ways of worship. They are strong and mighty. A woman leads them.” “Hahaha! What will I not hear in this life? An army led by a woman?! Do not be alarmed Azunna. What can such an army do? We will seize their woman leader and give her to our young warriors to play with.”

 “My king, a slice of yam in a boiling pot has sprouted shoot in Umueze, the gods have spoken and yet you laugh at the revelation the gods have given us. Are we now wiser than the gods who see all things and know all things? They have sent us a sign and all you have done about it is to mock what they have revealed.” The king made a face as though he was remorseful and said, “I did not mean to demean your words or the revelation of the gods. However, I can’t stop wondering what an army led by a woman is like. Maybe they will offer themselves to us to impregnate during battle.” Azunna stared hard at him. “Okay chief priest, I will tell our warriors about this woman and her strong and mighty army and instruct them to destroy her as soon as they sight her near our borders,” king Agadagu assured Azunna with a tone of sarcasm in his voice.

In Nsu, after days of laboring to get a clear answer from the gods, Utaka finally received a plain vision from the gods. Quickly guards were sent from Utaka’s shrine down to the palace to fetch Eze Nsu. Meanwhile, Eze Nsu had given order to his warriors to find Okiti who had suddenly disappeared from Nsu without a trace. Rumours were rife in the land that the beautiful woman whom the guards had arrested days earlier was a messenger of the gods. Rumour mongers claimed that the woman did not like how she was treated by the king and his guards and so had promised to return to Nsu with a plague. When Eze Nsu arrived at Utaka’s shrine, he was eager to hear what the gods had revealed to him. “My king, the old ways are in danger of being banished from our land. I saw blood. I saw heads rolling on the ground like stones. I saw shrines burning. I saw our mighty men begging for their lives. I heard the name of a new god on the lips of our people.”

“What was I doing in all of these you saw?” Utaka knew better than to give the king the answer he did not want to hear, so he lied to him, “Mighty king, I saw you fighting bravely. Your valour inspired other kings to match their warriors to our land to help us in battle. The tale of your bravely in battle brought us hope my king.” Eze Nsu smiled and jumped to his feet. With his staff pointed at Utaka, he shouted, “Great seer, if this is what you have seen, then let us prepare for war!” Utaka, pretending to have told him the truth, gyrated around his shrine and replied the king with a war cry, “Elehe ee!!” The guards and the king replied him, “I zo oo!” He gyrated a few more times and yelled, “Our forebear was born on the battle ground! Nsu is the land of war men! Let the battle begin!” Both the king and his men were affected by Utaka’s bravado. They began to chant war songs as they headed to the palace to lay out their plan to execute the coming battle. On their way, Eze Nsu stopped and sent for Utaka. There was a question he did not ask. When Utaka came, still playing the part of a man who had told all he saw, Eze Nsu asked, “I want to know, who leads this army and where are they from?”

Utaka paused, taking his time to think through the right answer to give the king. When he was done, he said to the king, “A woman leads them. Her warriors are from many lands including Ugegbe.” “There are no men who can fight left in Ugegbe, Kitikpa has laid the land bare. Whoever comes out of there bearing a machete is either the dead or the dying.” He did not know how right he was. However in his frenzy he did not even hear himself prophesy. Turning to his guards he shouted, “Out of the cursed forest, Ugegbe, a woman comes with the dead and the dying. When they get here, we shall feed her hungry army with food and then use her to satisfy our hungry groin!” The guards ran around insanely, slapping their groin obscenely.” As they sang on their way to the king’s palace, word spread through Nsu that the king was preparing for battle. Nsu being what it was, the young men ran into their huts and pulled out their war machetes and wrapped themselves with their talisman. Mothers ran with sacrifices to their gods to offer for the protection of their sons in battle.

Those who were chicken-hearted to stay in Nsu packed what they could and headed to the neighbouring towns. Amid the frenzy which swept through the land, Nwako, the warrior who helped Obioma, rallied his friends and colleagues to join him down to Ugegbe. They would wait till the dead of the night to move out of Nsu. Warriors were everywhere chanting angrily and poised for war. It had been long since Nsu went to war; every able bodied young man felt it was long overdue. Deep in the evil forest of Ugegbe, Obioma and thirteen head hunters matched in silence into the once prosperous land. Along the parts in the forest were bones of the dead. They littered everywhere, the bones of men women and children. Many houses were dilapidated. Their owners had died in the scourge which Kitipka visited on the land. Some of those who survived the scourge looked better off dead. Obioma’s heart was broken. She could not bear the horror she saw. Clearly Kitipka (pox) was still in the evil forest ravaging its dwellers.

sack Kitipka from this forest. These men you see hungry, sick and helpless shall bear arms in battle with me. We shall kill everything in our path which breathes and worships the evil gods.” Nwandu put his hand on his mouth, signaling to Obioma to lower her voice. Kitipka was not a god to be toyed with. Of all the gods in Igbo land then, it was the most ruthless. Obviously Nwandu did not know how stubborn Obioma was. Instead of heeding his warning, she raised her voice and yelled for all to hear, “In seven market days I shall sack Kitipka from this forest!!” Her words echoed through the forest. The men behind her stood still expecting Kitipka to strike her with pox. Obioma did not flinch. She continued to shout, “In seven market days, the sound of music shall replace the sound of sorrow. I Obioma Udeagu will remove Kitipka from your lips!” From mud houses and from behind reed fences eye marred with sorrows peered at her, wondering who she was and what gave her courage to insult Kitikpa. An old woman hurled a curse at her from her mud house, “May Amadioha strike you dead where you stand. Remove yourself from this cursed forest and do not incite Kitipka to hastily finish what is left of us!”

Obioma ran into the old woman’s hut in lightning speed, putting her hand under her arm she hurled her out of her hut. Suspending the old woman high in the air she shouted at her, “I am worse than Kitipka, but my grouse is not with you! In seven market days you will see with your eyes who I am!”  Slowly she put her down. The old woman was shocked to see a woman with the strength of seven men. Trembling she retreated into her hut. By now all the people in that part of Ugegbe had crawled out of their huts to gaze upon her. She seized the opportunity to make her first speech, “Ugegbe is not for the gods! It for the afflicted, the abused and for the hopeless who run into it to find solace. Once a god came into it and afflicted you. Now I have come into it to remove his affliction from you.” Her words were boastful. She was unusually beautiful, somewhat menacing and courageous. She clearly was a born warrior. Whatever her grouse was with the gods, no one in Ugegbe could tell.

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BRAVE HEART: Blood & Fire - Episode 11
Nigeria's leading story blog. Epic Story, gods, Warrior, Battle, War, Blood, Old, King, Heads. An African Literary Blog
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