BRAVE HEART: Blood & Fire - Episode 34

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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - incantations, gate, hut, snuff container, meat, palm wine, poisoned, kings, warriors, machetes, wedding.

While Nnamdi looked at Nwako for an answer, Utaka and Okiti bolted out of the hut as though they had run into a lion in there. The warriors of Ugegbe who knew a corpse had been lying in that hut for nearly two days bolted from the compound. Nnamdi and the men with him were confused, only Nwako stood his ground. He would not run even from Obioma’s ghost.

At the gate, Okiti and Utaka regained their composure and began to make incantations. Nnamdi had to inch closer toward the gate, in preparation to bolt away from the compound. He could tell from the incantations of the two medicine men that a troublesome corpse was around. Before he could reach the gate, he heard his name from the hut, “Nnamdi!” It was Obioma’s voice. Nnamdi stopped and looked shocked. He was not sure whether he should go to the hut. “My love, how many days are left before you wed me,” Obioma’s voice asked. “Two days,” Nnamdi replied. Then to everyone’s shock Obioma stepped out of the hut. She wore a smile as lovely as the full moon. Nnamdi looked from the two medicine men to Obioma, and wondered why they were summoning spirits to calm the spirit of a dead person. In her usual manner, Obioma offered him a seat and ran toward her kitchen. Her soup had soured and there was nothing ready to serve Nnamdi. She picked her father’s roasted bush meat and smelt it. It was still fine but had been warmed by the fire since the previous day. The sight of Obioma going about her business like a living soul made the two medicine men to stop their incantations and summoned Nwako who seemed not to be surprised by what was happening. “Is she back to life or is this the work of the charms you brought?” Okiti asked.

“I cannot tell, but I am glad she can be seen. It will help our effort to keep the secret that she is dead from the people. You are elders here. Offer our guests drink and leave me to calm our warriors,” Nwako whispered. “Ejikemeuwa! Go and fetch fresh palm wine for our guests,” Utaka ordered immediately, the young man was happy to be away from the scene, though momentarily. “Let all warriors return to their posts, our sunshine is ready to meet her guests!” Nwako shouted. Okiti made a few meaningless incantations to explain the earlier confusing events. Nnamdi who was seated kept looking from face to face, trying very hard to figure out what was going on. When Obioma emerged from her kitchen, she had a tray of roasted meat. She set it down before Nnamdi and bowed as was the custom then. Okiti mounted himself in a corner of the compound watching Obioma’s every move. “I heard you say you came with gifts, what are they?” Obioma asked. “There they are. I brought…” “Let me see them,” Obioma cut in, opening the items Nnamdi brought. All eyes were on her. Nnamdi looked around, still a bit confused. The men with him nodded for him to act quickly. One of them passed a small snuff container to him, it wasn’t actually a snuff container. It contained a lethal poison. He took a piece of the meat before him and threw it into his mouth; opened the snuff container and sprinkled its content on a few pieces of meat. He looked around to see if he was seen, everyone was looking at Obioma.

He gave back the snuff container to the man who passed it to him. Avoiding the pieces of meat, he poisoned he picked from the others. Just then Ejikemeuwa arrived with a large keg of palm wine and several palm wine cups. He set the drink before Nnamdi and his men and gave each of them the cups he brought with the wine. One of the men prayed and they began to pour themselves some drink. “Odi m na obi (my heart!), come and share this drink with me,” Nnamdi said, inviting Obioma to join him. Obioma stood up from where she stooped and went to the tray of roasted meat. She picked a piece of meat from the very ones Nnamdi poisoned and brought it to her mouth. For no reason, she smiled and moved it toward Nnamdi’s face and said, “Obi m (my heart), open your mouth.” Nnamdi was frozen, the ground under his feet seemed to move, the men who came with him looked stunned. No one amongst Obioma’s men understood what was going on. To them Obioma or whatever was parading as Obioma was playing love with Nnamdi. Nnamdi wished he could vanish from the spot. How could he tell Obioma the piece of meat in her hand was poisoned.

He wasn’t expecting what happened next. Obioma grabbed his jaw with her left hand and pressed his mouth open like an African Star Apple (Udara) and shoved the piece of meat into it. She shut his mouth with both hands and said to Nnamdi, “I was hoping you would say no to Ezeugo and Nsonma.” By then it dawned on Nnamdi that Obioma knew what he was up to. “Nwako! Kill these men!” She ordered. Her voice this time was different. It was the voice of Obioma giving a command during battle. While Nnamdi struggled to break loose from Obioma’s grip, to spew out the poisoned meat in his mouth, Nwako, Okiti, Utaka and the warriors who were present, descended on the ten warriors from Ezeugo. In just few minutes, the men lay dead on the ground, butchered like animals. “Azi River had to take my life to show me what was going to happen. Nnamdi was going to poison me for the promises some kings made to him. I am back! Obioma Udeagu is alive once more. Who will go with me to fight on my father’s side?” she said as she pushed Nnamdi to the ground. On the ground his body went into spasm as the poison kicked in.

None of the warriors present needed an invitation to fight beside Obioma Udeagu. All she had to do was say she was going to war and they would lay their lives down and follow her. By mid-morning, when Obioma left Ugegbe with some warriors, news of Nnamdi trying to poison her had spread through the land. At the borders of Aja Ala, Ikechi, Udeagu and Nwandu led their warriors in the slaughter of the armies of the four kings. Like in the earlier campaigns led by Obioma, blood flowed in battle field like river. The only difference this time was the person everyone feared was not Obioma or even Ikechi, it was Udeagu. Like his name meant, he moved like a lion in battle. He had no interest in killing the warriors who came after him and his men, he was aiming for the kings. To reach the kings, he cut through men like grass. Still the kings eluded him. However, they could not run because from all sides, warriors poured out to fight. By evening, thousands of men had fallen in battle. Udeagu stopped pressing against the kings all because his men had to rest. The daughters of Aja Ala who were not allowed to fight in battle put themselves to great use by bring food and water to the weary warriors.

Before midnight, a ground-shaking movement was heard. An army was headed toward Aja Ala, Udeagu summoned his weary fighters and they braved up for what was coming. To Udeagu’s utter surprise, the army was led by his daughter whom he had thought dead. Oh heaven! It was a sight to behold Udeagu embrace his daughter when he saw her.  He wailed. Udeagu sobbed, and held his daughter like he would never let go of her. It was only then that the warriors in his camp were told why they were fighting.  In Ezeugo’s stronghold the shout of Udeagu’s warriors was heard. Ezeugo and his men could not help but wonder why they were celebrating. If he knew, perhaps he and all the kings would have tried to escape that night. “I was planning to put away my machetes and prepare for motherhood, but they have made me take them again. This time I will not lay them down till every king who seeks to take us back to the old slavish ways of life is killed!” Obioma roared with her two machetes raised to the sky. Her warriors roared like beasts of the wild. “We own the night; we fight in darkness. Let us show them who we are! Obolo are you here?!” she continued. The men of Obolo, responded with their voodoo and a roar. “Nsu, Aja Ala, Umueze, do you want blood?!” The response she got was like the thunderous clashing of waves of the sea. Obioma did not bother to mention Ezele. She assumed the only man who could bring them down to join the battle was happily married and had already given too much for her.

Nwako had not mentioned to her that Ikechi was around. Udeagu drew close and asked, “Why did you leave out Ezele? Ikechi is here, and so are Anya and Osondu. Ezele sent their full battalion.” At the mention of Ikechi’s name, Obioma’s heart skipped a beat. “Is he here, papa?” she asked. Udeagu raised his voice and shouted, “Let the ghosts of Ezele lead us out in battle!!” From where he rested on a tree admiring Obioma’s seductive, curvy shape, Ikechi took up a song and bounced off on his feet. His men followed behind him. Though Obioma thought he was married, she still felt that old spark for him. She would not let him lead them this time. She ran toward Ikechi and joined the men of Ezele as they made their way in the darkness toward the stronghold of Ezeugo. From behind Ikechi, Obioma asked, “So you left Ugochi to come and save me once again?” “No, I did not. I came to save my love from death and to ask her if she still had a place for me in her heart.” Obioma’s head swooned. She understood Ikechi clearly, but did not understand why he would leave Ugochi for her. Around the two of them, the voices of men glorifying death in a song, rose and fell. “You want me to be your second wife. Ugochi deserves better, Ike,” Obioma said. “You are wrong. I deserve better. Ugochi left me, Obi m. She left me for a rich boy. I have been alone since. Promise me you will live through this night.”

“I will live through this night!” she shouted. “I will also live through this night,” Ikechi assured her. “And when morning comes, we will go down together to Ugegbe and have that wedding you were planning. I think I can slot perfectly well into the place you reserved for Nnamdi.” With tears running down Obioma’s face, she charged ahead. She had found a great reason to live. True love had found her on a battle ground, right on the day she was meant to be killed by the man she loved. As she ran into the thick darkness of the night, she felt the dead she had pact with and Azi River awaken in her. They were not yet done with her. Ikechi stayed close to her, ready to cut down whatever came dangerously toward her. By early morning the next day, children were playing with the heads of kings who conspired to kill Obioma. Udeagu was so made that night, that when he caught, Ezeugo, he buried him alive in his palace. He burnt Ezeoha to death while Nsonma watched. He then gave her to his warriors to do as they wished. Obioma did not care about how her father treated the kings or Nsonma. She was happy to rest her head on Ikechi’s thighs after the battle and plied him with questions about why he did not come for her earlier.

As Udeagu and his army headed back to Ugegbe, they met Nsonma’s body hanging from a tree branch. The warriors had hanged her after taking turns with her till she died. In honour to womanhood, Obioma asked the warriors to cut her down and bury her. The entire army waited till she was cut down and buried in a grave the warriors quickly dug. On the very day Obioma was to marry Nnamdi, she was joined to Ikechi in a colourful wedding. Finally, she found love with a man who reminded her of Chume, her first love. A man who would stand alone against an army and cut them down to protect her. From the beginning of the wedding rites to its end, Obioma was in tears of joy. When it was time to take his bride home, Ikechi took her to the grand huts Udeagu had built for her and Nnamdi. Ikechi was willing to live wherever Obioma wanted to live. Obioma did not mind going back to Ezele with him, but Ikechi wanted them to live in the place she called home. At home Ikechi could not believe it that the legendary Obioma Udeagu later became his wife.

To Obioma, Ikechi was much more than a husband, he was her protector, her lover and her boyfriend. She lay next to him at home and took him in her hands. She took a deep breath and allowed his hands to wander all over her unclothed body. Ikechi blinked repeatedly hoping to wake up from his malaria induced dream, but it was not a dream. Obioma was not shy at all before Ikechi. She told him where to touch her and guided his hands with pleasurable moans. She had for long dreamt to have a man go into her and take her to the moon. When Ikechi finally did, her moan was heard some distance away from their large huts. She didn’t care, he was her man and she was his.

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item An African Literary Blog: BRAVE HEART: Blood & Fire - Episode 34
BRAVE HEART: Blood & Fire - Episode 34
Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - incantations, gate, hut, snuff container, meat, palm wine, poisoned, kings, warriors, machetes, wedding. An African Literary Blog
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