BRAVE HEART: Blood & Fire - Episode 28

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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog. gods, machete, river, king, warriors, sons and daughters, war.

When Obioma returned to the shrine of Durugo, there was fanfare and celebration amongst her warriors and the people of Umueze. Agadagu the tyrant king was dead, the shrines of the ruthless gods who afflicted the people of Umueze had been burnt to the ground. The people could not contain their joy; there would be no more burning of their sons and daughters in the fire or raping of their daughters in the name of the gods. The era in which their lands were commandeered by the king and the priest were over. When the people sighted Obioma walking into the ancestral shrine, they began to chant her name. They sung their popular songs which eulogized bravery and wove her name into it. She paused for a little jig to please the crowd and they went berserk. Pulling herself and Ikechi away, she summoned a meeting with her father, the thirteen head hunters, Okiti, Utaka and Nwako. The look on her face gave them the impression that something wasn’t right. “The prophecy that the man who shall capture my heart shall kill me when kings come after him, how did it come about? If that prophecy is true, then Ikechi is not the man. After this meeting I shall grant him leave along with his kinsmen to return to Ezele to marry his bride, Ugochi. Ikechi does not love me neither does he wish to marry me. The man who shall try to fulfil that prophecy is not amongst us,” Obioma announced to the surprise of the men in the meeting with her.

“I serve the gods and they speak to me in clear visions. I Okiti, saw the vision and told your father. We may have thought that Ikechi was the man, however the fact that he is not the man that does not mean the prophecy is not true. We must be careful with the decisions we make,” Okiti warned. “Utaka, your eyes see as do the eyes of Okiti, what have you to say about this matter?” Obioma asked. “The gods speak in unclear terms sometimes for their own glory and purpose; it is for our glory to find out what they mean when they speak. Obioma I see darkness ahead and I see two men in them. One shall bring you death and the other shall bring you light. To know who amongst them will bring death, you must look for light in them…” “The man who shall bring you death, your soul shall love him greatly and he shall love you like no man has. His love shall make you blind and when you trust him with your life, he shall snuff it out and flee by night,” Okiti cut in. “My eyes see the things you see. I am blessed with the gift of visions. This darkness you speak of, I have seen it several times. It began long before Chume was killed. Many times I saw darkness trying to swallow me. Three days ago, I saw the same darkness again. I mistook it for the battle we were to fight, but after Ikechi told me the things Azi River revealed to him about me, I knew that the darkness I saw is in the future and that Ikechi is not the man who shall kill me,” Obioma explained.

Nwako stood up from where he sat and went over to where Ikechi was and apologized to him, “Your head would have fallen off today if Obioma had not saved you. We all had thought you were the man to kill Obioma. Please forgive me for attempting to take your life. I was doing what everyone in my shoes would have done. This woman gave me hope and a purpose beyond just being a warrior or guard for Eze Nsu. I will kill any day to protect her. I hope you understand my intentions were noble, Ikechi.” Ikechi was unperturbed, he stood to his feet and shook hands with Nwako and said, “I would have done the same if I was in your shoes Nwako. There is nothing to forgive, but much to be grateful for. Thank the gods that I was not the one in your shoes, I doubt Obioma would have been able to stop me,” Ikechi joked.

Knowing she still had challenges ahead, Obioma left for her father’s house with her shoulders hung low in sadness. While Umueze and their neighbours celebrated the ousting of their gods and the evil king, Agadagu, Obioma and her father went home to clean their huts and the premises around them. The huts had been in run-down condition since Udeagu and his family tried to flee Umueze many months earlier. Earlier that day, Obioma had with a rousing speech sent her army home to their people and family members. Standing on the very podium from which Agadagu watched men burn to death, her voice thundered in spite of the emotional storm which belched behind her plastic smile. “You all are legends! We are legends! History shall remember us all as warriors who sent packing gods who had outlived their usefulness! We faced our fears! We faced death! We faced blood and fire and we did not run! They could not break our spirits. We are legends!!” A raucous roar of adrenalin charged male voices greeted her speech.

There was something about her warriors being emotionally charged which easily whipped her into frenzy. Bouncing on her feet as though she was about to charge into a battle she yelled, “We are legends!!! The sound of clattering machetes ripped through the air and some half-drunk warriors sunk their machetes into trees nearby and cut chunks out of them. “I send you home to your wives, your sons and daughters, your brothers and sisters, your kinsmen, as legends. When you reach home, tell them that the gods fled before you and death bowed at your feet! Tell them you drank the blood of men and ate their flesh in battle to live! Tell kings in lands beyond our clime that we submit to no one or gods! We are free men!!!” Her warriors could not allow her finish her speech. Some of them ran up to the podium and scooped her off her feet. They sung her name till their voices went hoarse. By evening, they began to leave Umueze in packs, mostly drunk. Amid the excitement, Ikechi held his nerves and watched with deep thoughts on his mind.

With nothing much left to do, Obioma and her father sunk their energy into cleaning their compound. The thatched roofs of their mud houses had grown tattered and the mud walls had cracked. In silence they worked. From the corner of his eyes, Mazi Udeagu watched his daughter as they worked. He could tell so much was on her mind. He was the only one who seemed to hazard a pretty good guess of what the coming darkness might be. To drag her mind off the thoughts which ate her up, Mazi Udeagu asked, “Obi, are we going to live in Umueze or go back to Ugegbe?” “Ugegbe looks like it for me. I will be much more useful there than here.” “Then in Ugegbe we shall live. I might even try my hands on trading. I foresee the old trade route on river Ntiti surging back.” “You won’t have to trade papa, we will take ownership of the trade route and collect taxes. We have earned it in battles. Really I have dreams for Ugegbe.” Mazi Udeagu smiled, listening to his daughter talk about her dreams. He was happy he could engage her mind and drag it to happier thoughts.

By the first light of dawn, the youth of Umueze went to visit Mazi Udeagu and Obioma, they had heard Udeagu and his daughter were fixing their dilapidated huts by themselves. “Nna anyi Udeagu, you and Obioma have done so much for us. We will not stand by and watch you fix your huts alone. Leave them to us, we will fix them before dusk,” their leader said. Udeagu was happy to hear that, and so was Obioma. They could certainly use some help after the grueling battles. The ladies amongst the youth went to work weeding grass and sweeping the compound. Some of the men went to Okahia (forest) to fetch raffia tree fronds to make akrika (thatch roof); while others went to Egbeghere to dig up clay to patch Udeagu’s cracked mud houses.

In Ezele, Ikechi and his friends were being celebrated. In their village square, men and women danced in frenzy to entertain chiefs and elders. Ikechi, Anya, Osondu and the other warriors were given elevated seats at the square. The tales of their valour in the war had reached home with exaggerated versions appended to what actually happened in the war. However, In Ezele not everyone was celebrating the warriors who had returned from war in Umueze. Ugochi was having a hard time hiding a little secret. She was not expecting Ikechi to return from the war. The stories she had heard about him were completely in contrast to the hunter and wrestler she had known for years. “Ikechi is back. You told me he won’t be returning. What are we going to do?” Ugochi asked her secret lover. “I have told my father that you are pregnant for me. He is willing to speak to Ikechi and his father.” Ugochi knelt down and began to plead with her lover, “I don’t want to see Ikechi and his people. I have betrayed their trust. Please take me and run away.” “No Ugo, there is no honour in that. I have lands here to cultivate and I am the son of a chief, I cannot run from my land. Believe me, it will all work out well. We have the money to pay off Ikechi and his people and take you home as our wife,” her lover assured her and pulled her up to her feet.    STORY CONTINUES...

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BRAVE HEART: Blood & Fire - Episode 28
Nigeria's leading fictional story blog. gods, machete, river, king, warriors, sons and daughters, war. An African Literary Blog
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