BRAVE HEART: Blood & Fire - Episode 22

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Nigeria's leading story blog. Epic Story, told tales, Battle, Machetes, Bushes, Horn, Above their heads arrows rained down, Arrows, Warriors.

Agadagu would not wait for Obioma to launch the first attack; that would make him look like he was afraid. To him, Obioma had already shown enough intent to have him and his army destroyed by matching on Umueze with her warriors. Standing before his warriors Agadagu roared, “This is my land! This is your land! We know its paths, farmlands, bushes and forests like the back of our hands. Let us show these strangers who seek to cut short our lives and destroy our ways of life that they have gone too far!” His warriors roared and beat their pulsating chests in flamboyant show of anger. “I release you all to unleash hell on our enemies,” Agadagu continued,  “Go like the vipers and scorpions you are and slaughter our enemies in their sleep. They might be ready for battle by tomorrow, but tonight they are not. Slaughter all of them, and bring me Obioma’s head!”

The warriors of Umueze may not be warmongers like the men of Nsu, but they were better trained for battle. Driven to frenzy by the words of king, the warriors of Umueze sprang like cats in the direction of Ikpa, the red farmlands of Umueze. They were fast and moved stealthily. If their surprise attack would go as planned, Obioma might lose half her army that night. In Ikpa Obioma’s warriors had been asked to get enough rest for the night; most of them had walked days on foot. The field in which they made their camp was littered with men. Many were already asleep, while a handful was too scared to fall asleep. They were afraid they might not survive the coming battle. They stayed awake and told tales of their achievements back home and asked their friends to speak well of them to their wives and relatives if they fall in battle. While Obioma’s camp rested, the bushes around them swarmed with the warriors of Umueze. They had their strategy well thought out; they would first set the camp on fire, follow it up with rain of arrows and then move in with their machetes.

Obioma was asleep in a shed with her father next to her. Outside the shed, her thirteen head hunters slept in groups with their hands resting on their machetes. At the fringes of the camp, an insignificant warrior, Ikechi and his fellow warriors from Ezele were awake. They were too excited to sleep and so decided to break down a calabash of palm wine given to one of them by his girlfriend when they left home to go join the battle. Ikechi being a hunter had his ears trained to hear the sound most would not hear. While they drank and bantered about their escapades with young ladies in Ezele, he heard a twig break far away in the bush. Quickly he whispered to his friends to shut up. Straining his ears for more sounds, he asked, “Do we have our watchmen in the bushes?” “Yes, we do. I saw the last group move into their positions after we were served food,” replied one of his friends. “I heard a sound in the bush. I am a hunter, I know such sounds. The sound was as like that of a beast crouching to spring on a prey.”

“Are you going to hunt in a war camp Ikechi? Let the animals have their fill this night, by morning the bushes will be ours,” responded another of his friends. While he spoke Ikechi was busy fastening his war gear on himself. His friends were forced to do the same. When they were done, about fifteen of them followed Ikechi into the bush. They crouched on all fours to make it difficult for any man or animal to pick them out easily. When the bush had swallowed them, Ikechi stopped and whispered to his friends what he thought of the sound he heard, “Agadagu is a fox. I won’t be surprised if he has sent his men to kill us while we sleep. The sound I heard could have come from a man.” His colleagues were unsettled by his insinuation. One of them had to crouch fast back into the camp to get his horn. If Ikechi was right, then they will have to wake their camp for battle. Slowly Ikechi and his men moved through the bush, spreading out as they went further into it.

Just when they had thought that perhaps the sound they heard was from an animal, one of them stumbled on a dead warrior. Running their hands through the dead man in the dark, they found his throat had been slit. Osundu, the warrior who moved back to get his horn, made to sound an alarm, and an arrow flew into his shoulder. He squirmed in pain and lay quiet on the ground. They had run into a band of Umueze warriors. Over their heads arrows flew past, making whizzing sounds. The sound of the feet of Umueze warriors suggested were they were. Ikechi reached for his bow, loaded it with three arrows and shot in the direction of Umueze warriors; the cry of men in pain was heard.  While Ikechi loaded new rounds of arrows in his bow, Osundu was groping on the ground for the horn he had dropped when he was hit by an arrow. When Ikechi shot new rounds of arrows toward Umueze warriors, more cries were heard. Just then the sound of a horn was heard. Osundu had found his horn and alerted their camp.

With their cover blown, Umueze warriors were forced to raise a battle cry and surged forward. From the ground where they lay, Ikechi and his men rained arrows to the advancing warriors of Umueze. By now there was mayhem in Obioma’s camp. Warriors woke suddenly and ran in all directions. Above their heads arrows rained down on them. The cry of agony which filled Obioma’s camp was heart-wrenching. When Obioma woke she wanted to dash out and lead her warriors, but it was too risky. The thirteen hunters and her father restrained her. A torrential rain of arrows filled the sky above her camp. She had to close her ears to the cry of her injured and dying warriors. By the time Okiti and Utaka had summoned a storm to blow the arrows back to the warriors of Umueze, a good number of men had died. When Obioma got word from Okiti that the sky above them had been cleared of arrows, she shot out of her shed and shouted, “I Obioma Udeagu still lives!! Come and die with me warriors!!!” Her voice announcing she was alive was all her warriors needed to hear. Like angry soldier ants, they followed behind her as she ran into the bush from where the arrows came. Ahead of her, Okiti and Utaka made sure that every weapon which came out of the bush around them was returned to sender.

Deeper into the bush, a tale which would make an unknown boy a legend was taking shape. Ikechi and his friends made sure they unleashed mayhem on the warriors of Umueze whom they had run into the bush. Had Ikechi not headed in the direction of the bush wherein he fought all that night, Obioma would have lost the war in that first battle. The plan of Umueze warriors was to circle Obioma’s army and slaughter them from all directions. Ikechi and his men made sure that failed. Even though his left arm had been rendered useless by the arrow which hit him, Osundu ran back all alone into their camp and led some Ezele and Obolo warriors into the bush to help Ikechi and his friends. It was said that Ikechi moved through Umueze warriors and cut so much of them down that they began to run back into their villages. The band of Umueze warriors was convinced that Ikechi was a ghost. He was fast and moved as though it was day. While others depended on sight and sound to spot their enemies in the dark bush, Ikechi depended on sound alone and made good use of it by sneaking into the midst of Umueze warriors. At some point during the battle, Umueze warriors turned on each other because they could not tell who their enemy was any longer. By the first gleam of dawn, Ikechi was found standing on a pile of dead Umueze warriors far from his men.

When the heat of the battle became too much for Umueze warriors, they retreated. Both parties had to break from the battle to resume hostilities later. When the dead were counted on both sides, Agadagu had lost far more men than Obioma. There was also the rumour that Obioma had ghosts fighting on her side. When Obioma heard about Ikechi’s heroics, she sent for him. Just one look at him, Obioma’s heart was taken. The young warrior was a spitting resemblance of Chume. The fact that he fought well made it harder for Obioma to resist him. Without delay, Obioma brought him into her inner circle and made him the fourteenth warrior amongst her thirteen head hunters and put hundreds of men under his command. The prophecy that a man would seize her heart had begun.   STORY CONTINUES...

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BRAVE HEART: Blood & Fire - Episode 22
Nigeria's leading story blog. Epic Story, told tales, Battle, Machetes, Bushes, Horn, Above their heads arrows rained down, Arrows, Warriors. An African Literary Blog
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