BRAVE HEART: Blood & Fire - Episode 24

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Nigeria's leading story blog. Epic Story, Battle, Vultures, River, Warriors, king, hundred men, war,

With awe and anxiety, Ikechi and his friends left to meet with Obioma, in front of her shed, Mazi Udeagu and the top generals, including Okiti and Utaka, hung around in packs. Mazi Udeagu fixed his gaze on Ikechi searching his face to see if indeed the young man before him would be the one to end his daughter’s life. Ikechi was unassuming, he didn’t have the bravado of a man who was the talk of the war. Though a hundred men had been put under him, yet when he reached the generals, he greeted them like they were his fathers. The generals accepted his greeting warmly with plastic smile on their faces.

From the shed Obioma emerged, Ikechi’s men ogled at her in amazement, taking in as much as their eyes could see in that moment. Indeed, the woman warrior was a drop dead beauty; there were hardly men who would not want to kill for her. Her personal magnetism was affecting and her smile was hypnotic. Her curvy shape was rare, her legs and arms looked firm and muscular, relics of the wars she had fought. The men kept digging into every part of her body with their eyes. Anya was so awe-struck he began to lick his lips. His heart pulsated and his grip on his machete tightened, to night he would kill a thousand men so Obioma would invite him to her shed, he thought. “When I set out on this campaign, I did not know I will have the privilege of having fine soldiers like you fight for me. It is an honour for me know you and to fight by your sides. Growing up, I did not know that Ezele had men with fire in their bones. I am really overwhelmed when I heard of the things you did in battle. You saved me, you saved us all. I want to say thank you to you all,” Obioma said to Ikechi and his men.

Ikechi’s friends were surprised to see Obioma was not cocky and proud. She even said it was a privilege to fight by their sides. They were happy, several thoughts ran through their minds. Obioma looked into their faces and saw they would do anything for her. “I have a favour to ask of you. Tonight I want you to end this war. You and your champion, Ikechi, will lead us into Umueze to night to capture Agadagu and all in Umueze who support him. This is that night you have my permission to die, but before you do, take a thousand men with you!” Obioma was getting excited as she spoke. Her voice therefore began to rise. “I have no intention to lift my machete and fight by tomorrow. This is the night we destroy Agadagu or die trying! The warriors of Ezele! Will you grant me this request?!” The men who were doing their best to keep themselves from bolting off toward Umueze, replied, “Iyee!!!” and pounded their chests. Obioma smiled and continued, “I have heard you can move like ghosts, tonight I want you all to move like death! Behind you, we all will match and bleed until Agadagu falls!”

This time the whole camp of warriors joined the men of Ezele and yelled, "Iyee!!!” “Who amongst you men of Ezele is Osondu?” Obioma asked. Osondu stepped forward, his eyes red shot and shouted, “I am Osondu the son of Edeh! What would you have me do?!” Obioma looked him over. The guy had the look of a butcher; heavy arms and broad chest, stocky feet, deep set eyes and an overall burly build. He was the type you don’t want to come after you in battle. “You took an arrow trying to blow your horn to save us all and after that you still fought and killed many. Actually I heard you killed hundreds. How is your arm now?” “Before I was invited to come see you, I felt some twinge of pain, but now that I have seen you this close, I feel no pain, I am ready to kill who needs to be killed!” Osondu dropped his shield and grabbed his neighbour’s machete and clattered it with his. Sparks of fire flew out and he yelled like a beast. The guy was ready to kill indeed. From behind a man picked up a war song which glorified death in battle. Obioma knew it was time to unleash her men. She bowed and thanked Osondu for his bravery. Her humility was just too much for her men to take.

Ikechi pointed his machete toward Umueze and shouted, “Where are my hundred dead men?!” To his right hand a hundred and fifteen men filed out. Over Umueze, darkness was beginning to spread itself. Atop many trees in the bush, the men of Obolo perched like monkeys ready to unleash horror with their voodoo. Bouncing on his feet, Ikechi raised a war song and took off and his men followed him. That night may be his last night amongst the living…or maybe his greatest night in battle. In a corner beside Obioma’s shed, Nwako stood and smiled, his scheme was working just fine. All over the camp, warriors moved like soldier ants as they made ready to move out.

In Umueze, king Agadagu and his warriors schemed how to surprise Obioma once again. He was doing all he could to avoid battle with Obioma by night time. The last one did not go as planned. Sadly, for him, the spies he sent to find out what Obioma was up to had been bewitched by the men of Obolo and were left wandering in the forests and bushes of Umueze. With his eyes at what Obioma was doing cut off, he could not see what was coming. Azunna could not help much, because the men of Obolo manipulated him with false visions. His men stationed to watch the night were not very confident, the trauma of the last battle was still haunting them.  The persuasions of ndi dibia (native doctors) could not dissuade them that ghosts were not fighting for Obioma. As the night grew darker in Umueze, death drew closer. King Agadagu was still with his men when a guard barged into their meeting screaming insanely and pointing to the sky. Agadagu ran outside with his men and saw that the dark sky had been covered with innumerable number of vultures – the work of Obolo men. On Agadagu’s orders, the warriors of Umueze tried to shoot them down with charms, but the more they tried the harder it became. For some reason the vultures got angry and decided to fly lower to attack men.

While Agadagu and his warriors tried to contain the vultures, Ikechi and his one hundred and fifteen men entered Umueze. Some distance behind them was Obioma and the other warriors. When Ikechi drew closer to a pack of surprised Umueze warriors, he raised his voice and reminded his men, “Don’t forget you are ghosts!” and pounced on the warriors. When Obioma and her other warriors drew closer, they were surprised by what they saw. Every corner of Umueze they entered seemed to be littered with slaughtered men. Obioma was shattered by the sight she met. Her feet sort of buried itself into the ground, refusing to budge. That moment she regretted sending Ikechi and his men ahead. Torn all over Umueze were bodies of her people, those she knew, the young men of Umueze she had grown up with. Ikechi and his men had gone through Umueze like beasts of the wild, killing everything in their path. She had to take off to find Ikechi to ask him to stop. Instead of killing her people because of Agadagu, she would give them the chance to take sides with her. From behind, her warriors followed. Unknown to Obioma and her warriors, king Agadagu was using tactical withdrawal to lure them into a trap.

As Obioma and her men ran around Umueze looking for Ikechi and his hundred and fifteen men, she began to hear the sound of Azi River, this time very loudly. The river was warning her to withdrew from Umueze. Obioma had to call her men and informed them about what the river said to her. They all had to hurriedly demand that all their warriors retreat from Umueze. There was still no sign of Ikechi or his men. A hundred men don’t just disappear that easily in a night. Obioma was thinking that perhaps Ikechi and his men were ghosts indeed, when she saw them bold out from the direction of Agadagu’s palace running toward them. They were not coming like friends, they seemed to be running to a battle. Obioma and her men took notice of it. Anya was leading them, there was no sign of Ikechi or Osondu. Obioma’s heart sunk into stomach, she had seen what Ikechi’s men could do; she would like to fight against them. Agadagu must have used voodoo to turn them against their own men.

Obioma was not the type to run from battle, so she dug her feet in, against the warning of Azi River and asked her warriors to prepare for battle. When Anya got some distance closer, Obioma realized he was saying something to them. He and his men were not running to battle; they were running from it. Agadagu had awakened all the dead chief priests of Umueze to fight on his side. It was forbidden to do such a thing, but Agadagu having seen his was going to die that night had demanded that Azunna perform the ritual. Agadagu was certain that Ikechi and his men were ghosts fighting for Obioma and so to save himself and to give his warriors some reason to fight on, he unleashed the dead chief priests. Anya could only briefly stop to explain to Obioma why they were running before bolting off. Moments later, Anya and his men were not the only ones on the run. Obioma’s warriors joined them when they saw raging fire coming their way like ocean storms. When her warriors took to their heels, only her father, Utaka, Okiti, Nwako, Nwandu and the thirteen head hunters remained beside her.

Far away from her, all her warriors who had ran from the fire stood, watching to see what Obioma might do. The whereabouts of Ikechi and Osondu were still unknown. The raging fire was quite a sight, however Obioma would not run. She had to summon Azi River, “Mighty river of old, the great Azi, I am sorry, I cannot run from this one. I will fight it! You either help me or watch me burn to death!” Turning to her father and her warriors, she said goodbye and bolted off to confront the fire.

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BRAVE HEART: Blood & Fire - Episode 24
Nigeria's leading story blog. Epic Story, Battle, Vultures, River, Warriors, king, hundred men, war, An African Literary Blog
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