“This is a dangerous task! You have two little children and a wife at home. I will not share in your death. I do not want you to go!” He expressed his dissatisfaction but Chinedum had nothing to fear.
He pulled in a deep breath, “Obiajulu has an aunt who came to visit. I will encourage the woman to stay more. She will keep them company.”
“I haven’t accepted your offer.” The King rose to his feet and walked out of the palace.
“You have two days to give me an answer!” Chinedum refused to back down. He didn’t know what inspired this strength in him. But he was determined to help the King and Adaora in the little way he could. If that led to his death, he had nothing to lose by trying to fight for Ezeudo. Obiajulu was still very young and she could remarry and bear more sons. Besides, he planned to hand her to Anosike to marry if his life was in danger.
When he stepped out of the hut, he found Oriaku. Her eyes were reddish and swollen.
“Why is your face sad?” Chinedum asked.
“How could you ask me that? Did you not hear the words of the oracle? My time on earth is short. I do not know what I have done to offend the gods. They refused to bless me with children and now they seek to take my life.” She sobbed.
Just then, Chinedum remembered the words of the oracle concerning him. He pondered on it briefly and decided to let it slide. Oracles had a way of instilling fear in people, so he decided not to worry. But he would be more careful.
“You must wipe your tears. Pray to the gods for mercy.”
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Anosike had fallen asleep. The pain from Oriaku’s attack was still fresh. He was briefly awoken by the knock on his door.
“Who is that?” He searched the thick darkness.
The visitor didn’t waste time; she pushed the door open and quickly shut the door behind her. When Obiajulu realized how dark the room was, she located the little window and pushed it open. When her eyes met with Anosike’s eyes, she realized that he was afraid.
“You terrified me!” He screamed.
“You thought I was a killer eh?” She laughed.
She sat at the edge of the bamboo bed and began to caress his chest.
“You look excited, what good news do you bring?” He waited.
Obiajulu had never been this happy. First, her enemy had been kidnapped. The last thing that stood between her and the throne of Ezeudo was taken away. She didn’t answer, she continued drawing invisible circles on his chest.
“Can you guess?” She chuckled. Anosike’s spirit lightened at the sound of her laughter. He wished he could listen to this laughter for the rest of his life. But something had changed in him after Okeke’s visit. He knew their love relationship was abominable and perhaps it was time to tone things down.
“Why don’t you go ahead and tell me? If I was strong, I would’ve guessed.” He returned her smile.
She cleared her throat and straightened.
“The slave girl is out of our way. From the story that I heard, she has been kidnapped by the warriors of Amabara. The gods have shown themselves to me. It is clear that I am destined for the throne, I don’t know how it will happen but you must work with me.”
Everything she said came as a surprise to him, but he kept his shock under control.
“What is your next plan?” He wondered how Obiajulu could be destined for the throne. Ezeudo’s last female ruler existed a hundred years ago and she had been put to death by stoning for defiling the land with her immoral ways.
Obiajulu knew this part would be hard for Anosike. She rose to her feet and turned her back against him. She caressed the knife which she had safely hidden under her wrapper.
“I love you deeply Anosike and I am sure you love me with the same measure. However, there are many things that stand in our way. We cannot continue to love each other this way. I know that Oriaku is your wife, but she will always be a thorn in our flesh. Already she knows our secret. It is for that reason that she attacked you with a club. Why don’t we end her for good?”
She kept her eyes on the wall as she spoke.
Anosike’s ears fluttered.
“End her for good? How?” He hoped Obiajulu wasn’t proposing that he murder he wife. His love for Oriaku had grown cold, but that didn’t give him right to murder her. The highest he could do was divorce her.
Obiajulu tightened her grip around the dagger. Why was he hesitant? Didn’t he love her anymore?
“Don’t ask questions like a child, Anosike. You know what I mean. If you truly love me, Oriaku must go.” She turned around and searched his eyes. She felt relaxed when she noticed that Anosike still loved her.
Anosike was tongue tied. He couldn’t choose because it was difficult. He was madly in love with Obiajulu. He could do anything for her, but he couldn’t kill Oriaku.
“Ask of anything else and I will be swift to do it.” He pleaded.
Obiajulu scoffed. She had come prepared.
“I had a feeling that you will be a coward but I know what is best for us.” Without wasting time, she moved towards Anosike and dropped a kiss on his forehead after which she pulled out the knife from her wrapper.
“What do you want to do with that?” He pulled his lips from her.
Obiajulu didn’t answer. Her lips curled into a smile. Her eyes were suddenly filled with darkness. Blood rushed in her veins as she heard approaching footsteps and a voice which sung to the evening birds…Oriaku had come home.
“Something that you are not man enough to do.”
To be continued…