BRAVE HEART: Blood & Fire - Episode 18

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All in Nsu were not asleep as in the other time when Obioma and her warriors came to rescue the captives held in there. Many had though gone to sleep including Eze Nsu who was being slowly nursed back to health. The night was serene, fresh wind blowing from the rivers which bounded Nsu rustled trees and caressed those who kept awake to keep watch. Above the sky, the moon shone brightly. It was a perfect night for Egwu Onwa and tales. At the outskirts of Nsu, Okele and Umuchu, feet of warriors bringing death from Ugegbe pounded the earth. Their eyes flared with rage and their hands held their machetes and shields firmly. Ahead of them Obioma sprang toward Nsu like a wild cat after a prey. On her shoulder was her father, Mazi Udeagu, with his eyes firmly fixed on his daughter. Amongst the Ukpo clan in Okele, a boy woke from his sleep crying uncontrollably. He had seen blood and fire come in like the sea and took his village in its current. His vision was vivid. As he cried his eyes darted about in search of the monstrous faces he saw in his dream. His father, Ejikeme, woke up and dashed out of his hut and headed toward the hut where in his children slept. Behind him was his wife running and struggling to tie her wrapper around her naked body.

When the boy saw his father, he leapt on him, glad to see him alive. Ejikeme could tell his son must have had a nightmare. “What did you see Akaeze?” asked Ejikeme. “I saw death, papa. It came like a sea of blood mingled with fire and took our village. Everyone died! Everyone!” As the boy spoke, he intermittently shut his eyes as if the images he had seen were still haunting him. By the door of the hut, Ejikeme’s wife stood, listening to her son narrate what he had seen. Their clan was said to have migrated to Okele from Ahiara. Back in Ahiara, the people through whom they traced their ancestral descendancy were great seers. The best Dibias (native doctors) in that time were mostly from Ahiara. Their visions were spot on. Amongst the Ukpo clan, it was believed that Akaeze would grow up someday to become a great Dibia. His visions were always filled with graphic details and always came to pass. While Ejikeme pondered over the vision which had been given to his son, his wife hurried away from the door where she stood and knelt before the little shrine in their compound and began to mutter prayers to their gods for protection.

In Umuchu, it was a regular night. There was nothing new about it. The warriors and guards who were supposed to keep watch over the night were mostly drunk while others kept busy with devouring young girls whom they had used their positions as warriors to lure out of their fathers’ houses. In Umuchu immorality was part of their culture. There was a saying at this time that to take a wife from Umuchu was akin to bringing home a sex maid for one’s kinsmen. In the royal palace of Umuchu, the king lay unclad in the midst of nubile naked young women whom he had devoured all through the night till his strength, he spent. In its farmlands, Nwandu and his men drew closer. They will burn through Umuchu like fire during the Harmattan season.

In Nsu, a warrior who had hear a twig break behind him entered the bush to check it out. He had hardly taken five steps when an arrow whizzed through his skull and he sunk down to the earth dead.  He colleagues were listening to one of them narrate his domestic troubles when arrows flew out of the bush and stilled their breath. From the bush a band of Ugegbe warriors emerged, moving like soldier ants and killing men in their paths silently. Near Eze Nsu’s palace, Nsu warriors met their untimely death from Ugegbe arrows. Leading this band of Ugegbe warriors were Obioma and her father. Her intent was to capture Eze Nsu before the warriors of Nsu would realize that war was upon them. Patiently Obioma and her band of warriors moved through unsuspecting Nsu warriors like hot knife through butter. In the same manner bands of Ugegbe warriors were killing Nsu warriors in bloodcurdling fashion all across the land. Though blood stained the land, many were asleep and dreaming peacefully.

When Obioma and her team had reached the high reed fence which circled Eze Nsu’s palace, an Nsu warrior took off from behind a cluster palm fronds, shouting at the top of his voice as he ran, “Ebele etiwa go o! Nsu, agha ada wo nu o! (The calabash has broken! Nsu, war has come upon us!)” His voice was quickly silenced by a rain of poisoned Ugegbe arrows. However many in Nsu had heard him before he was killed. Oma had given her warriors command that once Nsu stirred from sleep, they should begin to set houses on fire. That strategy would give the impression that Nsu had completely been invaded. Instead of rallying together to fight, many would take their families and run for cover. So soon after the warrior’s voice was heard, many huts in Nsu began to burn, shooting fumes sky high and lighting up the dark night. While Obioma and her warriors tore through the reed fence around the palace, voices were heard through the land rousing all who still slept that death was in their midst.

Royal guards shook themselves from slumber and surged out to protect their king. Inside the palace, a few warriors took Eze Nsu and ran through the back gate intending to go hide him in Umuchu. The moment Obioma sighted the warriors charging at them she summoned the dead and Azi River, “All you dead who died unjustly, rise and have your revenge. I charge you to fight through me and to devour flesh with your bare hands. Azi River this is your night. Redeem your name which evil kings have stained.” Mazi Udeagu watched in awe as his daughter spoke to both the dead and a river whose name most would not even dare to whisper. From behind Obioma and her father, the hunters of Ugegbe let their arrows fly, sending to the earth the warriors who came charging at them.

At this point Obioma raised a battle cry, “Kill them all!!!” and ran into the battle. Imagine the effect of a sharp blade sweeping through a forest of grass, that was what happened when Obioma met with the warriors of Nsu. Heads, arms and limbs were flying in all directions. Horrifying moans of the wounded and the dying rent the air. Mazi Udeagu who had thought to stay close to his daughter to protect her, had to give her some space lest his head fall like those of Nsu warriors. In a little above thirty minutes Obioma and her warriors broke into Eze Nsu’s palace. To her displeasure there was no sign of Eze Nsu, only some of his wives and a few sons of his were in the palace. Grabbing one of Eze Nsu’s wives by the neck, Obioma pushed her blade into her thigh and demanded, “Where is Eze Nsu?” The woman yelled in a mind snapping manner, and pointed toward the back door before saying amid her cry, “They took him away!” Obioma tossed the woman aside and barked to her father, “Burn this palace down with all those who are in it!” Mazi Udeagu was shocked. Before he could counter his daughter’s order, she was already headed toward the back door with some warriors following her.

Turning to the men who followed him, Mazi Udeagu shouted, “Save the women and the girl children! Let the others burn with the palace!” As Mazi Udeagu dashed out of the palace, more than half his men followed him, leaving a few behind to carry out the order. While the warriors who stayed behind worked hard to sort out who should burn and who should not, a band of Nsu warriors broke into the palace. Clearly Ugegbe warriors were miffed. They didn’t have the luxury of time. There was still a land to take after Nsu had fallen. In the battle that broke out, Ugegbe warriors set the palace on fire with all who were in it and bolted out through the back door. Outside the palace they staged themselves with their arrows ready to shoot whoever made it out of the palace.  All over Nsu, there was battle in every corner; Obioma’s strategy to distribute her warriors and to burn houses had worked just fine. Nsu warriors fell for it. When fighting together Nsu war men were dangerous, but having to fight in smaller packs took the venom out of their sting. In most cases, instead of fighting, some Nsu warriors kept busy with trying to save their family members from burning in fire.

On the road leading to Umuchu, Obioma, her father and their warriors chased after the men who hurried to take Eze Nsu down to Umuchu. The irony of it all was that Nsu was doing better than Umuchu. In both Umuchu and Okele, Nwandu and Nwako had staged the worst killing spree the Igbos had seen in that time. Shrines were set on fire, burning houses served as street light to the men of Ugegbe who invaded their lands. The two kings, their households, priests and the rich were on their knees begging for mercy. In Nsu there was however a blast from the blue, Amanze, a hunter king from a neighbouring land had heard that Nsu had been invaded. His first daughter had months earlier been given to Eze Nsu in a peace pact. The news of what he heard happening in Nsu was horrifying, to save his daughter, he took hundreds of fighting men and left for Nsu. STORY CONTINUES...

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item An African Literary Blog: BRAVE HEART: Blood & Fire - Episode 18
BRAVE HEART: Blood & Fire - Episode 18
Nigeria's leading story blog. Epic Story, Love, Warriors, Kings, War, Machete, Palace, Huts, Naked An African Literary Blog
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