The Asagba sprang from his bed, his eyes darting about. He had just had a terrifying dream. In his dream, he had seen the old kings rouse for a battle. All of Asaba was burning; there was not one home in Asaba which was not in flames. Men, women and children were on the run and torn from their loved ones. One more thing which troubled him the most was that the old kings were angry with him and had brought a great battle to his palace. Though it was still late in the night and the land was asleep, yet the king would not let that stop him; he would find out the meaning of the dream. He rose from his mat and went outside. In the middle of his royal compound was a man wearing only a wrapper which was tied around his groin. He stood tall and was bare-chested. In his hands were a gong and a stick to beat the gong. He had come with a mission.
“Who are who?” the Asagba roared. The man ambled toward the king. The king, a veteran of war himself, took his stand and made to circle the stranger for a battle. Though he had no weapon to fight with, he would not let himself die like a coward. The stranger read the kings move very well and stopped his stride toward him. “I am Nwude Onyali, a young seer among the seers in this land,” said the stranger. “I knew Onyali, he was both a seer and a warrior. However, I can’t recall that good man crouching around by night and sneaking into the king’s royal quarters. Where are my guards?” asked the king, “Your highness, I put them to sleep and asked those who sent me here to move their bodies away. I have words for you; words which only your ears must hear.” replied Nwude.
Then the Asagba relaxed. “Come closer boy,” said the Asagba. “You had a nightmare king; in your dream, you saw Asaba burn to the ground and the old, dead kings attack your household,” said Nwude. “You are a seer indeed. That is my dream. What is the meaning of it? I know something is wrong but what it is I do not know,” said the king with a deep frown on his face. “The lineage of Odogwu Ozala has been reawakened…” Nwude paused. The Asagba was so shocked he could not stand on his feet. Like a young wife who had received the news of the death of her husband in a battle, he sat on the ground, scooped sand on himself and began to grief. “The Asagba is like a god; Don’t forget that my king! You cannot grief!” Nwude reminded him.
Raising his sand-covered head and his eyes burning like a laser beam, the Asagba asked, “How did this happen and I did see it coming?” “So much has been kept from you and from the eyes of many seers in the land. It is as if the gods colluded with those who carried out this evil. You need to see the ancient shrine of Odogwu Ozala, it has come alive as of old. A sacrifice was offered in the shrine this very night. My king, you must prepare for battles. You will battle with enemies in the land and enemies outside the land! The dead kings of old sent me to you, they have long dressed for battle and are already fighting. My king, rise up! It is time to kill!” The Asagba remained on the ground staring at Nwude in open mouthed bewilderment.
“Wait! Wait! Nwude Onyali… Who… Who… How did this seed… Wait… This descendant of Odogwu Ozala is he the seed with royal and priestly ancestry or the stalk from whom the seed shall come?” the Asagba asked, sweating as if a bucket of water had been emptied on him. “My mouth will not say what will kill me. My eyes will not see what will kill me…” Nwude began to swear in a bid to save himself from the wrath of the king. “Speak up Nwude! I swear by the gods, no harm will come upon you,” the king barked and sprang to his feet. “Since you have sworn by the gods oh king, I will speak freely of the things I was told. The stalk of Odogwu Ozala from whom the seed came has long been killed. His name was Chiedu Ozala. He was murdered in Sapele long ago, but his head can be found buried at the foot of the big tree in the shrine of the seer of our land.”
“So this is the reason the seer lost his mind?” “No, my king; his mind was taken from him so that he will not speak of what he knows and has seen. There is more to the loss of his mind oh king.” “What are you not telling me?!” the Asagba bayed and grabbed Nwude’s neck and began to choke him. “Ple…pleas…please! haaa! Stop! You swore!” Nwude stammered. The Asagba let go of his hands, breathing heavily. Nwude stepped back a bit, coughing and gasping for breath. “Are you aware of the magnitude of your claims? If there is a royal and priestly seed of Odogwu Ozala in Asaba at the moment, it means that one of my daughters had sex with this Chiedu Ozala, whom you said has been murdered.”
“Yes…” Nwude paused and slumped to the ground. “Which of them slept with Chiedu?” Nwude was on the ground struggling with death and an arrow sticking out of his neck. The Asagba paced closer to him only to meet a dying man. He was stunned. Raising his head in the direction he supposed the arrow came from, he raised a cry, “Mutiny! Mutiny!! Mutiny!!!” His voice woke the entire royal household. His wives, slaves, servants and elderly guards all ran out of their huts. They only saw a dead man with an arrow in his neck and no sign of the king. The Asagba had long bolted off to catch the assassin who killed Nwude. The Asagba knew that no man would dare attack him. He was no ordinary king. Before the day of his coronation, the gods themselves cooked him in the most potent charms of all. In the king’s search for the assassin, he found out that most of his royal guards whom Nwude put to sleep had been beheaded. Some of their bodies were still jerking when he found them. The assassin must not have gone too far, he thought. Tasking his aging legs, he gave the assassin a chase.
Far away from the royal home, Ada Asaba bounced home like a gazelle with a blood-stained machete in her hand and a bow and arrows on her back. The day Awele was born, the chief priest at that time had exclaimed to the hearing of all who were present, “This one should have been born a man, for she has the heart of a warrior! Let not her beauty deceive you! Let not her charm snare you. She shall bathe herself in the blood of her enemies and shall laugh death in the face.” The Asagba and his wise men had interpreted the prophecy to mean that Awele shall be a great warrior and had proceeded to train her in the art of battle. They were wrong, dead wrong!
In Amawbia Awka, Isioma’s home burnt with a great flame while Edozien was still inside. Short of ideas about what to do, Isioma decided to summon the spirit which had brought her to Awka. Inside the hut, Edozien managed to evade the first round of machetes which came down upon him. The hut was small and offered him little room to maneuver his way around the many machetes seeking to take his head off. The old, dead kings of Asaba had sealed the door and were in the mood to kill. Edozien had learnt so much and had been put through much rigours, but he took all those lessons knowing that however hard and rough they were, he would wake up in the morning with his wounds and pains gone. Sadly for him this was no lesson. It was the very thing for which he had been trained for years, and there was no morning to wake up in if he died. The first two machetes which sunk into his bare, young back, made him realize that he would either fight back and prevail or die running.
All he had to do was think of what to do. His first thought was to grab a machete, but his machete was not in the hut. The only machetes available to him were the ones trying to kill him – the machetes of the old, dead kings. No mortal would dare try to wrestle them from those angry, dead kings, but Edozien would try. Like a squirrel Edozien ran around the hut taking lots of machete blows on different parts of his body. The old, dead kings were having fun. They knew there was no way out for him, the hut was on fire and their machetes were carving him open. Well Edozien didn’t think so; he believed there was a way out. He had his eyes on a machete floating above his head. The moment the machete swooped low for a blow, he leapt into the air and grabbed it from the old, dead king who held it. For a split second, the dead kings stood still in awe of the boy. Nothing in their lifetime and in the period of their days in the grave had prepared their eyes for what they saw the boy do.
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