The royal guard returned to Asaba only to hear of the events which had left it devastated. Prince Edozien was missing, the gods would not reveal his whereabouts and Awele was very sick. In his heart he felt strongly that things were not as he was told. Since the night he saw Chiedu killed, he had seen two night visions. Somehow in his heart he felt that the death of Chiedu was connected to the attack on princess Awele and her son Edozien. The royal guard figured that Awele knew something no other person was privy to. Many a time he wanted to confide in one or two chiefs, but he feared that he would be betrayed. Since Awele was in no condition to receive the human body parts he returned with from Sapele, he decided to go bury them under a muddy stream, and marked the spot where he buried them.
While the captured bandits were quizzed and tortured for information, the royal guard watched and listened to their confessions attentively, hoping he would hear a piece of information which would help him make sense of the whole puzzle. As days dragged into weeks, the royal guard continued to ask himself, “Why did Awele hire Ogolo to kill Chiedu and then sent me to kill Ogolo? What is she hiding?” When his probing at the shrine of native doctors in nearby town became too risky for him, he stopped. Daily he listened for any useful tip the bandits could reveal. Sadly for Asaba and all who wanted immediate action against those who attacked the princess and her royal entourage, the warriors quizzing the captured bandits discovered that the bandits were not all from Igala, some of them were outlaws from Aro Ndizuogu, Owerri, Egbema, Benin and even Sapele.
Ojoma, the leader of the bandits had done his job well. He had feared that using only bandits from Igala might lead to another war in the event of their mission failing and some of them getting caught. Though he had died in the battle, but his wisdom stopped another war and saved many lives. Since the Bandits were not from one land and did not know who sent them to attack the princess and the reason for the attack, the angry Asagba of Asaba met with his council of chiefs and they agreed to slaughter all the bandits at the site of the attack on Princess Awele.
Two days after the captured bandits were slaughtered, princess Awele miraculously recovered. This was considered an act of the gods. It gave a sorrowful Asaba reason to rejoice, though on a low key. From the day prince Edozien disappeared from Asaba, the shrine of Odowgwu Ozala began to die slowly once again. The recovery of the princess also coincided with the total degeneration of the reviving shrine of Odogwu Ozala. Word had begun to spread through Asaba that the ancient shrine might be making a comeback. There was no telling why the shrine seemed to be coming alive after hundreds of years of being dead. The Asagba was worried and so were his chiefs. Sadly for them there was no one who had the answers they sought. So after it was discovered that the shrine had withered to almost nothing overnight, the frayed nerves in the palace of the king calmed.
Awele was elated to discover after her recovery that her secret was not found out. When she was told that Edozien never made it out of the attack, she concluded that he must have been taken away and killed. It hurt her deeply that the boy was no more and it somewhat pleased her immensely that her secret would never be found out. Only one thing remained, to find out if Chiedu was alive or dead. The royal guard she sent to kill Ogolo had become withdrawn from national life for what he saw as clandestine evil practices by those in the royal family against the people of the land. In a silent protest to that, he relocated his family from the heart of Asaba to Igbuzo, his maternal home.
Awele was eager to know what happened back in Sapele, and when she could not find the royal guard at the palace and at her husband’s house, she began to search for his whereabouts. When she finally heard he had moved to Igbuzo, she went by night to find him. The moment Awele saw him; she knew something was not right. The eyes of the royal guard who once adored her were full of disdain. He spoke tacitly and could not wait to leave her presence. Though Awele was happy to hear that the man she sent Ogolo to kill was dead, yet she left with so much concern on her mind.
When she asked the guard the reason he left Asaba for Igbuzo, she could see that he was lying. His answer that he left because of the threat of another war was to Awele stupid and puerile. As it was back then, if Asaba went to war, Igbuzo would go to war with her. They were brothers and fought on each other’s side. Awele returned to Asaba that night thinking, if I don’t destroy this guard, he will destroy me. First she had to go to the location he gave her to find Chiedu’s body parts. That same night she removed the body parts and deposited them at the shrine of the seer, her partner in crime.
“You are indeed a lioness. Like you said, you have stopped the gods and beat them in their own game!” the seer praised her. “I told you I would dare the gods…” she gloated. “Seer, I have a problem. I fear that my work is not yet fully done,” she said with the look of worry on her face. “How can you say that? The shrine of Odogwu Ozala has withered to nothing, which means that Edozien is dead. Chiedu is also dead. What more can you ask?” “Seer, the guard who killed Ogolo and brought me Chiedu’s head and other body parts knows something. I don’t know how much he knows but he knows something. I am worried.” “No, you will not be the proverbial crab who swam oceans and rivers only to drown in an old woman’s soup pot. Give me the guard’s name and I will take care of him tonight. You have beaten the gods, who is this guard to you? Give me his name!”
“His name is Odita, the son of Kachukwu.” “Go home princess, your work is done. The guard will not wake to see the sun by morning.” Awele scurried home before the sleeping spell she put on Osadebe would wear out. That same night, the seer summoned the soul of the royal guard and stabbed him to death. He was found dead in the morning with his mouth full of blood.
Awele had prevailed as it may seem. Her plans had worked as she designed them, and her second pregnancy was doing fine. She would soon give Osadebe a second son which would wipe away his sorrows. However, when the gods want to kill a man, they give him a stubborn heart. In the nether part of Asaba, the royal maid who hid Edozien in a cave before she fell into a ditch had long been found and was recovering well. The seer did not know this and neither did Awele. The medicine man who found her and was also treating her had been warned in his dream to speak to no one about the maid. Edozien’s clothes were also found beside the maid, and this had so much significance. Her story could prove that Edozien was alive somewhere. If this were to come in the open, it would cause a great stir.
In Amawbia, Isioma weaved her way into the way and life of the people of Awka. Out there, new male admirers were falling over each other to help her. Just as she was told, the day after she arrived in Amawbia, she put to bed a baby boy. He was the carbon copy of his father, Osadebe.
Back in Asaba the moment the child was born, Osadebe saw it. It was evening as the spirit had said, and Osadebe was napping at the foot of a pear tree in his compound when Isioma popped out the baby boy. Osadebe snapped out of his sleep breathing heavily. He was afraid and confused. “But I was told the slave girl is dead!” he wondered aloud. “They lied to me! I was lied to! If not, what then does this vision mean? The slave girl has given birth to my seed.” He sprang from the mat on which he lay and ran into his hut. In a jiffy he came out dressed and left for Ubulubu to see Orimili – a three days journey.
Awele was at the back of her maids’ hut when Osadebe snapped out of his sleep and began to talk to himself. She had heard some of his words. “What is my husband talking about? Does he have a secret slave concubine? What does he mean by ‘the slave girl has given birth to my seed?’ I have to ask the seer about this.” She too left to speak with the seer.
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