The soft touch from the wrinkly hands stirred him from his evening sleep. Ikemba grabbed the dagger underneath his kingly garment at once. But the instinct to attack an enemy quickly vanished as he recognized his mother in the dimly lit arena.
“You look troubled,” His mother said.
Ikemba sighed, “What kind of man would sleep in peace knowing that he would never father a child?”
“Tufiakwa! You will have a son my child. Your loins will soon be blessed by the gods. All we need is to follow the direction of the priestess. The right woman will come and she shall bear you a son.” The woman tried to dissuade her son from having negative thoughts.
The King drew a sharp breath and leaned against his wooden throne. He was still perplexed by the dream that he had. Ikemba felt strange about it. The dream had seemed so real and surreal at the same time. And why had the woman faded? Was there really a land like Anyanwa?
“Mother, have you ever heard about Anyanwa in reality? Everything that I know about the land is from moonlight tales.”
The woman was skeptical about such a mysterious village.
“I don’t know much about it, but I have heard stories as well. There are good stories mostly. There are stories of a great people who were blessed by the sun God and the moon Goddess, both which they drew their energy from.”
The King rubbed his chin thoughtfully, as he pondered on the dream. He was to find a maiden from Anyanwa who was under a curse. How could he try this when such a land didn’t exist in the physical?
Unknown to the discussers, they weren’t alone. Just in time, Oriaku who had been filled with so much rage and jealousy had walked towards the meeting room. She had come to report her husband to the king, but the news she’d just stumbled on, was the perfect distraction.
I know someone from Anyanwa! She thought. Of course she did, the slave girl that her husband had bought from the market was an indigene
“I still find it difficult to believe that such a land could exist in the physical world. What if I never find her? I would have to turn over the throne to Chinedum.” The King sighed. Although he was the most powerful man in Ezeudo, he was a very sad man. None of the beautiful women that he had ever married could make him happy. He had reached a point where he considered his life meaningless.
The Queen inhaled a deep breath. She knew that her burden on her son’s shoulders wasn’t easy. She had no idea of what it meant to be King, neither did she had an idea of what it meant to be a barren man.
“It shall be well, the gods are wise.” She chose succor in the common saying of the villagers.

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Oriaku was satisfied with all that she had heard and learned. A crooked smile danced at the corners of her mouth. Suddenly, the rage and jealousy that she had felt vanished into thin air, and she was left in deep thoughts about the slave girl, Adaora. Her husband had chosen Obiajulu over her and she had no choice but to let him be.
“I will no longer fight Obiajulu with my mortal strength. The gods would punish them both for their sin when the time is right.” Oriaku made this resolve, before she stepped out of the darkness, towards Ikemba with a basket of yam seedlings and other fruits, only fit for a King.
The Queen wanted to say more to encourage her son, when she noticed the shadow that advanced towards them.
“You have a visitor,” she turned to Ikemba.
The King was surprised as he hadn’t been expecting anyone.
“Who could it be?” He fastened his eyes on the approaching figure. When the figure was closer to the throne room, he recognized her at once. It was Anosike’s wife, the greatest farmer in all of Ezeudo.
“Oriaku!” The Queen smiled.
Oriaku bowed her head in respect to the Queen. When she neared the King, she fell on her knees and worshipped him.
“You may rise virtuous woman. You have done well by paying your King a visit.” Ikemba was pleased to see her.
Oriaku wiped away the dust that her knees had kissed. She quickly presented the basket that she had brought.
“I and my husband wish to donate this to the royal farmers. My husband stored the best yam seedlings for the King. I also brought some delicious coconuts…” Oriaku was lying, she had come for another purpose but she changed her mind.
Anosike was free to do whatever he liked. She no longer cared. She was more interested in finding out what linked Anyanwa and the King.
“You and your husband have done well. Thank you.” The Queen smiled at the woman. The Queen had always admired Oriaku from a distance. As the head of all the women that dwelt in the land, she was privileged to have access to information about every woman. From most women, Oriaku was considered a patient, loving and kind person. But her husband was an insensitive and unfaithful man.
There was a point that the Queen had wanted to suggest Oriaku’s sister for the King, but Oriaku’s barrenness discouraged her.
“I must leave now.” Oriaku flashed her teeth.
The King shook his head, “You cannot come into my presence and leave without a proper welcome.”
He called to one of his guards and asked that a meal be prepared for Oriaku.
“Be smart about it. Send the cooks to work at once!”
“As you wish my King,” the guard bowed. He raised the heavy basket and placed it on his hefty shoulders before leaving.
Oriaku wasn’t comfortable staying in the palace. What if Anosike discovered that she had gone behind his back to pay the King a visit? Her husband was a prideful man and he could get upset about this. Well, she couldn’t speak in the presence of the king without being asked. No living person in Ezeudo could challenge Ikemba’s authority.
“So, how have you been? How is the farm?” The Queen decided to break the silence that was building.
Oriaku was grateful for her intervention.
“Um, everything is fine.” Oriaku fiddled with her fingers. She found it difficult to look at the Ezinne in the eye. The dark skinned woman had eyes that were severely penetrating. They were small, round and blackish. They resembled that of an evil bird, and a glance at them always sent a shudder into people.
The Queen smiled, she sensed that Oriaku wasn’t too comfortable with her.
“I do not bite Oriaku; feel free to discuss anything with me.” The Queen cast a glance at her son who was falling asleep again.
Oriaku ran a tongue over her lips.
“I am sorry for what I am about to say. I stumbled on your discussion about Anyanwa….”
The Queen didn’t look upset or too surprised.
“I have heard many beautiful and magical tales about that place.”
Oriaku nodded, “I happen to know someone from there. She confessed that she is a native of the land but it was recently raided by some slave traders. Those who weren’t killed were taken into slavery. But as I speak, Anyanwa is no longer in existence because everything has been destroyed.”
At the mention of that name, Ikemba’s eyes popped open.
“How do you know this? Who is this person?” He asked.
Oriaku’s heart skipped, she hoped that she wasn’t making a mistake.
“A slave girl that my husband had bought for me,” she answered.
“What is her name?” The King rubbed his chin thoughtfully, as he tried to recollect the dream he had.
“Adaora. She is fair as the sun. Her beauty is like that of the moon. She has a gentle spirit. She is Chinedum’s slave now.” Oriaku continued.

To be continued…

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