At the royal quarters, a seasoned warrior carefully removed the arrow in Nwude Onyali’s neck and studied it. “Oh king, this arrow is not an enemy’s arrow! It is from our land! It was made in this land!” the warrior exclaimed. The discovery moved up the buzz in the palace a few notches upward. “So we are not dealing with foreigners in this case?” the Asagba wondered out loud. “I am afraid, we are not, your majesty!” responded the seasoned warrior. “In this case, send word around; tell our warriors to look for such arrows as have been removed from Nwude Onyali’s neck!”
While messengers made their way across the land to deliver to warriors the message from the king, the quiver containing the type of arrow which killed Nwude Onyali lay in Osadebe’s hutch where Awele had left it.
Seeing they had nowhere else to run to and neither could he and his wife, Ofunwa, keep the warriors outside their door waiting any longer, they opened the door. Chekwube was not expecting the horrifying sight he met. He almost threw up when he saw what had happened to the five warriors who had only a few minutes earlier threatened to bring his door down and whisk him away like a duck. From behind him, trembling, Ofunwa made her way closer, intending to plead with the warriors to show her husband some mercy. However, when she saw what had become of the warriors, she screamed and ran back into their hut.
Chekwube looked sideways in fear to see if anyone was in sight; he couldn’t make out any figure he could describe as human. Grabbing the door of his hut, he yanked it inwards to slam it shut. Then a hand grabbed the door and held it still. Chekwube felt his heart sunk into his stomach. To him, it was all over. He and his wife would be blamed for the five dead warriors at their doorstep and all that had happened that night. “I… I swear… I… I didn’t do it. We didn’t do it. We are innocent,” Chekwube stammered. Slowly the owner of the hand, ambled out from behind the door and stood like a tower in front of him.
One look at the man Chekwube knew he was not entirely human. He had a pair of eyes which emitted rays of flames and his entire skin looked like he had been roasted for a few hours before he somehow bolted out of the flames which left his body badly charred. From his seemingly roasted body, wisps of smoke belched into the air like a chimney. “We are back. Go into your hut and keep it securely locked. We will keep you safe until the mighty one arrives. That which you know, speak to no one about,” the mountain man thundered.
Chekwube could not help wondering who he was. He wished he could ask the man his name, but he was overwhelmed with fear. The man-beast had his back to Chekwube when he heard his monstrous voice squeak, “I am Odogwu Ozala, father of the Ozala clan. We are back.” Clearly he read Chekwube’s mind. When the mountain man took one more step away from the door, Chekwube’s door slammed shut of its own accord. Chekwube collapsed to the floor more out of the force which hung over him lifting than of exhaustion. Ofunwa rushed over to where he lay and took his head in her tender hands, rested it on her thighs and whispered amid hot tears pooling from her seductive pair of eyes, “What have we done to deserve this, my love? Did I hear that evil spirit say he was Odogwu Ozala? That is not possible! He died long ago! What is it you know which he referred to?”
All Chekwube could do was place a finger on her lips and pointed at the door with his other hand. Ofunwa understood what he meant and held him closer to herself out of fear than tenderness.
At Amawbia, Isioma could not sleep. They had spent the day fixing their burnt hut, normally she was meant to sleep like a baby having overworked herself in the day. Sadly, she could not. She felt a foreboding stirring in her soul. She could sense a gathering of powers. Titans of old were being aroused by someone through an evil sacrifice. She had felt like she was being sucked into an abyss each time she closed her eyes to sleep.
She looked around her hut and wondered how the coming months would pan out for her two sons. They lay on their mat next to hers, asleep. She stood to her feet and sneaked out of her hut. Outside, she made her way toward the farm nearby. There, she summoned the spirit which had brought her to Amawbia. She had questions to ask and was in need of urgent answers. “What I sense is too strong. It is stronger than the presence over my house when the kings brought a battle here against Edozien. What is this I feel? How are my sons going to survive this?” Isioma asked the spirit which had appeared from the air when she summoned him. Going by how quickly the spirit showed up, Isioma could tell he had been around all along; possibly watching over them.
“The kings of old have withstood the gods of Asaba. The old, dead kings have aligned themselves with a clan of spirits you mortals know as evil spirits. They are powerful and are gods in their own rights. The kings of old have given Asaba to these evil spirits. They will fight and do whatever they can to make sure Asaba does not return to the ways of the Ozalas,” explained the spirit.
“What am I supposed to do now? I fear these evil spirits. I can’t sleep, I can’t even close my eyes. Am I still expected to cross the river and match into Asaba with my sons?” Isioma asked, hoping she would be told to stay put in Amawbia. “Trust in your two sons. Don’t forget you were the one eager to persuade them of the need to relocate to Asaba. Do it. Take them to Asaba. Awele must be stopped.” “Awele? The princess of Asaba? Osadebe’s evil wife? What is she up to again?” Isioma asked biting her lips in anger. “The evil spirits are reaching out to her. She is an awesome fighter and a ruthless schemer. Even as I speak, offers have been made to her to help her avert the curse of the gods of Asaba…”
“Has she taken the offers?” asked an agitated Isioma. “No, the gods have sent confusion into her head. Before she does, Edozien and his brother must leave for Asaba to retrieve the head of Edozien’s father from the shrine of the chief seer of Asaba. The gods had seen before now the things that will happen, and had influenced Ogolo, the assassin sent by Awele to get him Chiedu’s head, private part and tongue to deceive her…” “I have lost you completely spirit one. I thought Chiedu is the one to establish the rule of the Ozalas. What has he got to do with Edozien?” Isioma asked, scratching her head.
“No, you got it all wrong. There is another descendant of Odogwu Ozala who has been preserved, he will do that. Chiedu is Edozien’s father. Awele killed him after he helped her conceive a son. She foresaw that someday she would need to reduce the power of her son, Edozien, should he choose to follow the ways of his great grandfather, Odowgu Ozala. So at that time, she asked that Ogolo bring her Chiedu’s head, tongue and private part. Now, Chiedu’s head must be removed from the shrine of the seer of Asaba. Also, the seer himself must be protected from Awele. He knows a lot about her and how to stop her.”
“So my sons are going to Asaba soon?” “No, Isioma. Your sons are going to Asaba this early morning. Chiedu’s head must be retrieved urgently.”
“Is that not too early for them? You said the evil spirits…” Isioma was interrupted by the sound of one of her sons clearing his voice beside their hut. She turned to see which of them it was. The two boys, Edozien and Amaobi were sitting by the hut with their raffia bags hung across their shoulders and their machetes in their hands. They were ready to leave for Asaba and had heard all Isioma and the spirit said in their discussion. When she saw them ready to leave, she realized the spirit had played a little trick on her. “You! You woke them up and made them hear all we were saying,” Isioma spat angrily. “For your good and that of Asaba, the boys must leave now. Chiedu’s head must not be removed from that shrine today,” explained the spirit.
“I am going with them!” Isioma blurted and bolted into her hut. “You are welcome,” said the spirit and disappeared.
Awele was asleep when she was woken up by husky baritone voices challenging her husband outside. She stood to her feet and ran outside. The sky had begun to brighten up a bit. She could make out about ten warriors surrounding her husband. Her first thought was to pick up her machete and attack them. The words of one of the warriors made her think twice about that. The warrior had said, “We must search your house Osadebe! The king demands we do it. Since the drums and the horn were sounded no one has seen you nor your wife. The king demands we search your house!”
It was then Awele realized that the arrows she left in the hutch might implicate her and her husband. She was also not sure that blood stains will not be found on her machete. She went into their hut and returned with a wrapper in her hand. Heading straight for the hutch, she picked the quiver of arrows and her machete and covered them with the wrapper. She then hid them under her clothe and headed for the back of their huts.
The warriors saw her and greeted her but she chose not to respond to their greetings. Realizing something was wrong, two of the warriors followed her swiftly, Osadebe tried to detain them but the others held him back. As soon as Awele reached the back of their huts, she removed the weapons wrapped in her wrapper and threw them on top of one of the huts. Then she let her wrapper drop loose revealing her full nakedness. It was a taboo for any man other than her husband to see Ada Asaba naked, especially without her consent. Immediately the warriors showed up at the back yard, she raised her voice as loud as she could and began to scream that the two warriors had seen her nakedness.
It was a perfect diversion for what she had done and what she and her husband were suspected of. When the news spread through the land, the Asagba was blamed for sending warriors to his daughter’s house that early in the morning. By mid-morning, Awele persuaded her husband to demand that the eyes and the tongues of the two warriors be removed. Though it was tradition, Osadebe was unwilling to demand that the two warriors be subjected to that treatment. He suspected that Awele had something to hide. However so not to bring shame his way, he sadly consented to Awele’s demand. The two warriors lost their tongues and eyes that morning. Tradition prescribed such gruesome treated so that those who see Ada Asaba naked will never tell of what they had seen.
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