The Journey from Amawbia to Asaba was as swift as the one from Asaba to Amawbia. The same spirit which had settled Isioma in Amawbia took her and her two sons on the wings of the wind and planted them in Asaba; in the midst of the forest between Asaba and Igbuzo. “Follow this firefly,” said the spirit to Edozien and Amaobi. “It will lead you to the ancestral shrine of Asaba. At the foot of the big tree in the shrine, you will find the skull of a human head. It belongs to your father, Edozien.” “What are we supposed to do with the head when we find it?” Edozien asked, sounding a bit ruffled at the prospect of finding his father’s skull. “Cover the head with cocoyam leaves and put it in your raffia bag. After that you must follow the firefly again to the house of the seer of Asaba. Be warned, his wife, Nneukwu, has eyes that see and can smell you from afar. You must not let her draw attention to you. Her husband the seer must be removed from his hut without her knowing it.”
Amaobi looked at his brother, and then at the spirit, wondering how they were supposed to do that. “How are we going to move this old, sick, seer out of his hut without his wife, whom you just said can smell us miles away, knowing it?” he asked. “You worry too much Amaobi. He who serves the gods, must put his faith in the gods. Take this…” the spirit handed Amaobi a wand with chicken feathers and a red cloth at its end. “Once you find your way into the seer’s hut, touch him with this wand and leave the rest to the gods.”
Done giving out instructions to Edozien and Amaobi, the spirit picked Isioma up and disappeared. He gave Isioma no chance to decide what to do; because he knew she would want to go with her sons. She still felt they needed her protection.
Left to themselves in the midst of that forest which was eerily dark by that hour of the day – early morning, Edozien mumbled, “I guess this is it. We have to put to use what we have learnt from the gods, right?” Amaobi nodded his head as if he was suddenly afraid to utter a word. Above their heads, a firefly fluttered waiting for them to take a step. All around them the forest seemed to emit hatred, bile and fear. “Something knows we are here,” Amaobi found his voice. “Me thinks the same,” responded Edozien. The firefly buzzed angrily and fluttered away.
Edozien figured the fly did not like their talk of fear and so whispered to his brother, “The gods don’t seem to like our use of words.” “I sensed the same,” said Amaobi as they followed the firefly.
Earlier that morning the Asagba had convened a secret meeting with his five high chiefs to evaluate the things Nwude Onyali had revealed to him before his untimely death. One could sense a strong foreboding presence in the air as the king, the Asagba of Asaba land, spoke. “He told me that the lineage of Odogwu Ozala has been reawakened…” the king held his peace for those words to sink in. Dread plastered the faces of those high chiefs as their ears received the words of the king. A lingering silence made the words of the king much more dreadful than they had seem when he first said them. “Wait…wa…wait your majesty. How can that be without a seed left in the Ozala lineage?” one of the stunned high chiefs, chief Utomi, asked. The others held their tongues, clearly afraid to speak a word.
“Hmmm,” the king heaved despondently. “Not all of the seeds of Odogwu Ozala were killed in the purge. One or two must have escaped… And as I speak, the royal-priestly son of Odogwu Ozala has been born…” The shocking impact of that revelation from the king, left his high chiefs frozen. None of them could utter a word. They knew the implication of what the king had made known to them. It meant that one of the king’s daughters had connived with a descendant of Odowgu Ozala to produce a royal-priestly seed for the Ozalas and all of Asaba. The king’s absolute power was under a great threat, and even his throne. Asaba could abandon him on learning that such a child lived amongst them.
“Will my high chiefs not speak to me?” the Asagba asked his tongue-tied chiefs. “My king, we must move swiftly to find this royal-priestly seed of Odogwu Ozala, his father and the particular daughter of yours who teamed up with the Ozalas to do this, and kill them all now,” chief Utomi said, his voice driving home the danger they all faced. “The boy’s father’s name was Chiedu. He is already dead. Nwude Onyali said his head is buried at the foot of the great tree in our ancestral shrine. I would have had it dug up now, but you see, I must first offer my intercession to the gods for the recovery of our seer. It is only when he fails to recover that I would go to dig up the head by myself.”
“No! We can’t follow protocols in this present situation my king! We have to bend the rules! We make the rules after all! I say we summon the best of our seers and task them to find a way through which we can exhume that head this morning. Whoever buried it there knew we can use it to stop the royal-priestly son of Odogwu Ozala,” chief Olisah suggested animatedly. “If what you have said can be done then I will task you to see it done,” said the Asagba.
“How about the seer, we know he is sick, but why did he not tell you any of this when it began to happen?” chief Utomi asked, sensing something was gravely wrong. “Nwude Onyali told me that the seer was going to talk to me about it, but was stopped by some mysterious power.” “How about the gods? They should have at least given you a dream or sent a seer to you. Why did they keep silent for this long? Something is not right here,” Utomi observed with a worried look on his face.
“Chief Utomi is right. The gods should have done something when this giant tree was still a plant. Why send Nwude to you when it was almost late?” Chief Olisah asked. The Asagba was going to tell them that it was not the gods who sent Nwude Onyali to him but the old, dead kings. He had to hold his tongue when he realized that would have made the chiefs understand that perhaps, the gods were behind the reawakening of the Ozala clan. “Only the gods can explain their silence,” the king said trying to cover his tracks.
“Now my king, this is what we are going to do. To find out which of your daughters betrayed you and our land Asaba, we must bait all of them. We must deploy the highest sorcery known in our land to deceive and draw her out. Then we must do what we can to revive the seer. He knows a lot. We will not stop just there, we will exhume the head of this Chiedu and use it to destroy his son. I know tradition like the back of my hands. Whoever cut off Chiedu’s head must have removed his tongue and private part too. Where are they buried? We have to find them my king. As for the tension in the land, we must dowse it. And this is how to do it. Send our warriors to recover some of those who have fled Asaba already and blame them for what has happened in our land so far. We have to give our people reason to believe that we are on top of this situation,” chief Utomi said as his eyes darted about. He was a devious schemer and yet again, he had put it to use to serve his land.
When the meeting broke up chiefs Utomi and Olisah had another secret meeting with the Asagba. In the meeting, the Asagba asked that three of his high chiefs be blamed for what had happened that night in Asaba. “The common people cannot take the blame alone for what we have seen this night. We know they are innocent. I say we give the people of Asaba the names of the three high ranking chiefs who said nothing during our meeting…” “You are an observant king indeed! Did you notice the looks of their faces in that meeting? They chose not to speak because they felt the gods may be in play here. I sensed it. If the three of them, given their ranks, were to say such to our people, they will follow them,” chief Olisah said, gesticulating vigorously.
“What do you have to say chief Utomi?” asked the king. He trusted his judgement a lot. “Chief Olisah has helped me see what my eyes were blind to. Who helped one of your daughters find a seed in a lineage that was long gone? Someone who knows secret traditions. Who sent for the right sacrifices to be offered at the shrine of Odogwu Ozala? Someone who knows hidden traditions and is rich and has his eyes on the throne of power. Who killed Nwude Onyali so he won’t reveal what he knows and disarmed our seer? Someone who knows secret traditions and can pay for the services of high dibias…,” chief Utomi was saying.
“What is your point chief Utomi?” asked the king. “The three high chiefs fit the description of all I listed. They were caught off guard when you revealed how much Nwude Onyali told you. For that reason, they could say nothing. Either they are the ones behind all these or they know those who are behind it all. Arrest them now oh king!” chief Utomi barked.
“Wait a minute… Great king do not be angry over what I am about to say,” chief Olisah pleaded. “Go ahead chief Olisah,” said the king. “Since the land was awakened by your shouts of mutiny, no one has seen either your son-law, Osadebe or Awele our Ada Asaba. Are they unwell? Is there a chance they know what we don’t know?” chief Olisah asked.
“Chief Olisah your observations are in place. Osadebe is our chief warrior, and my daughter is the Ada of Asaba. My guards were killed and a seer also in my royal quarters and so far, I have not seen them. Already I have sent warriors to search their house. I trust no one. I hope to have them accompany the warriors here to explain their long absence this morning,” said the king.
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