Ifeyinwa’s words haunted her all the way until she reached Anosike’s house. Obiajulu had walked past a group of women who were wailing. She was certain that they were crying about the death of Oriaku, whose body could’ve been found by now. She bit her lip and looked around; to be sure that no one followed her. Satisfied with her scrutiny, she adjusted her wrapper and rushed into Anosike’s hut.
After his wife had been stabbed to death by his mistress, Anosike had wept all night. He had been helpless before Obiajulu and he blamed Oriaku for it. If she had not attacked him, perhaps he would’ve found a way to save her from Obiajulu. So many thoughts had crossed his mind last night. His love for Obiajulu had waxed cold. It was time to stop the affair before someone else got hurt. Already, he was bound to her for life because of the secret they’d shared.
Anosike felt a little better today. He had been staring at the walls, wondering what his plans would be next. He needed his strength to pay a visit to his farms. He hadn’t set eyes on his best friend, Chinedum for a while.
He quickly held his breath when he heard a knock.
“It is I, Obiajulu!” His lover whispered.
A feeling of regret washed over him. Anosike wished he had listened to Okeke all along. Okeke had been right about Obiajulu, the woman was filled with ambition and that could cost him his life.
“What do you want Obiajulu? Is it not too early to visit my house?” He snapped at her without considering if she had come with another person. When he realized his carelessness, he struggled to his feet and limped towards the door.
Obiajulu couldn’t believe that Anosike could speak to her that way. She had been so excited to visit him, but hearing those words really cut deep into her heart.
“How could you speak such words to me?” She stepped back. Her voice cracked like she was about to cry.
Anosike gritted his teeth and looked away.
“Do you not love me anymore?” She questioned. He didn’t answer. Her heart raced as she searched his face. If Anosike’s love had died, she would be an unhappy woman for the rest of her life. It was his love that gave her strength to fight for the throne which she dreamt of sharing with him one day.
Satisfied that his desire for her was not completely gone, but masked under resentment, Obiajulu moved past him and stepped into the house.
“You shouldn’t be here Obiajulu. Do you not care about what people will say about us?” He followed her into the house.
She scoffed and clapped her hands.
“Since when did you start caring about what people say? I smell a rat Anosike, it better not be what I am thinking.”
He frowned and looked away.
“I am saying the fact. Do you have time for your husband and your young children? It is wrong for a woman to leave her house this early.” He continued.
Obiajulu felt irritated that he would address her like she was a child.
“Are you angry that I did what you couldn’t? Are you angry that I killed your barren wife?” She snapped at him. Anosike was an ungrateful man and his current attitude annoyed her.
He almost landed a slap on her face, hearing him call Oriaku barren. Instead, he chose to remain calm until he could figure out a way to detach himself from her without getting killed. He had not known that Obiajulu had the courage to take a life until the previous night. He feared her guts. She was a dangerous woman and he couldn’t do anything to piss her off.
“I am sorry for hurting you. You should’ve told me your plans first…”
A smile crossed her face when he dropped the apology.
“If I had told you, you would’ve found a way to talk me out of it. Aren’t you happy that she is out of the way now? We can love each other freely…” Obiajulu pouted her lips in a seductive manner. She caressed her breasts immediately. But Anosike looked away. He was no longer interested in her body. He wished she could stop coming to his house.
“Anyway, there is a new development.” She dragged a stool and balanced on it.
“What is that?” He waited for it.
Obiajulu carefully recounted everything that Ifeyinwa had told her, and how rudely Chinedum had spoken to her that morning.
“As it stands, Adaora is still alive and thriving. We must find her and destroy her. If I can get my hands on that throne, I will take you along with me.”
Anosike raised a brow, “What will happen to your husband?” He ran his eyes over her face to be sure of the kind of woman that he was dealing with. Obiajulu avoided his penetrating gaze. She didn’t want Anosike to know what she planned for Chinedum, but it was obvious. The only way Anosike could become a queen was through Chinedum’s death. But it had been many years since a woman sat upon the throne.
“So what are we going to do about the slave girl?” Anosike changed the topic.
She sighed and wrapped her arms across her chest.
“I don’t know yet. My husband is certain that she is Ikemba’s destined wife, the one that would bear him sons. I have a feeling that he knows something that I don’t. There is no proper flow of information between us anymore. I feel it strongly that Chinedum is keeping something from me. I don’t know how to find out what.” She was deeply troubled by this.
“Why don’t we give up on that girl? We can focus on other things.” He was tired of her presence, he wished she could leave.
Obiajulu wanted to say something, when the wailing voices of the women drew nearer. She rose and rushed towards the window. Her blood raced when she realized they were coming to Anosike’s compound. They were moving swiftly. One would think that their legs didn’t touch the ground. They moved like the whirlwind, spreading all over the compound bit by bit.
“What do we do? From their songs, they may know about Oriaku.” Obiajulu was restless.
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Ikemba had just finished having a meeting with some of his elders when his cousin had strolled into the palace. Ikemba had thought about the offer he had made Chinedum all night. It was a very risky mission. He didn’t want Chinedum’s children to be fatherless, and his wife, a widow. Surely, there would be two outcomes once he stepped into Amabara; death or life.
“May the gods continue to bless your reign!” Chinedum bowed his head as he moved towards the throne.
Ikemba’s countenance brightened when he saw his cousin.
“Thank you for honoring me.”
“Have you decided yet?” The king wasted no time.
“Yes I have. It is my belief that the gods want me to retrieve the dagger of the moon goddess. I will go for it. I will risk my blood for you. If anything happens to me, you must care for my children and wife, like they w ere yours.”
Ikemba pulled in a deep breath and searched Chinedum’s eyes.
“You are truly the bravest of all men.”
“Thank you my King.”
“When do you leave? I shall provide you with food supplies and everything that you need to make this vision come to reality.” Ikemba was ready to help. He couldn’t wait to see Adaora’s face.
Chinedum had made up his mind to leave that night. It was better to leave before his wife suspected him. Obiajulu was a very intelligent woman. If he didn’t act fast, she could find out the secret.
“I leave by moonshine. I do not need food supplies or any assistance. I must present myself as a pauper and make them believe me. I shall win their trust and love. By the help of the gods, I will bring you the dagger.”
Ikemba was pleased with his cousin’s words. But there was a little problem.
“What shall you tell your wife?”
Chinedum had thought about that while making love to her. He would miss Obiajulu and his children.
“I will tell her that you sent me on a mission to represent you in other parts of our kingdom. I shall make this story very convincing. You have nothing to worry about.”
Ikemba felt relaxed. When Chinedum was about to leave, the King invited him to a corner of the throne room where the earth gods were kept. This section was filled with bronze idols and other wood carvings of mystical creatures.
“This is my personal shrine. It is the purest and most serene. I worship here.” Ikemba knelt before the earth gods. Chinedum did same, while wondering what the King wanted to do.
Ikemba grabbed Chinedum’s right hand.
“I swear by these gods that if anything happens to you, I shall take care of your children and marry your wife. I shall make her my reigning queen for your bravery. Your son shall be my son. He shall take the throne when I am gone. Your daughter will be my daughter. I shall train her with love and kindness.”
Chinedum was pleased to hear this. This only proved that Ikemba was an honorable man. He was happy that his wife and children wouldn’t suffer if something happened to him. He grabbed Ikemba’s hand tightly; it was his turn to swear by the gods.
“I swear that I shall not betray you in Amabara. If the worst comes, I shall not give Chiemelie any information about us and what we are planning. I swear to be good to those that are good to me; to be kind to those who show me kindness. I will try my best to bring back the dagger and the moon virgin even if it will cost my life.”
Unknown to the brothers, one of the maidservants who had served them kolanuts had hidden herself to watch them. Her name was Ifeoma. Her mouth fell open when she realized what Chinedum had committed himself to.
“I doubt if Obiajulu knows about this.” She stroked her chin while thinking of what to do with this information that she had gotten.

To be continued…

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