The great day for the oath taking had come. At midnight, Adaora had turned and tossed restlessly on her bed as she realized the significance of what was about to happen in Amabara. All the dwellers of the Kingdom were to gather at the king’s palace to swear their allegiance to the throne. If she took this oath, she would be bound by it and that would mean her death, should she work against the King? But how could she be loyal to a man like Chiemelie? He was a cruel man who had no respect for human life.
“I must do something…” She had thought, but no idea came. She thought about Ituri and Anywanwa. She felt the pain of their betrayal, because they had forgotten her. Little did she know that the gods worked in mysterious ways?
The atmosphere of Amabara was fully charged with jubilation. The town crier had made it known through gong that Ezeudo and its inhabitants would soon be theirs. The lands and fat animals; the beautiful women alike and everything beautiful about Ezeudo were to become their inheritance in a short while. But all these promises were dependent on their obedience to the oath. The kingdom dwellers had been groomed to despise the people of Ezeudo. They had been groomed to believe that Ezeudo belonged to them, so there was nothing anyone could do or say to change their thinking pattern.
Adaora peeped outside the window of her hut. She noticed a thick smoke rising from the middle of a gathering; it was the gathering of the strongest warriors in the kingdom and they had just offered a sacrifice to the god of Amabara. They were preparing themselves, physically and spiritually for the war they would declare against Ikemba. A sad feeling weighed on her shoulders as she thought about the innocent King, the man that she was to marry- the man that the gods had destined for her. Though she was yet to set eyes on him, she felt a deep and powerful connection. She no longer saw him in her dreams as before, but she was confident that he cared about her.
The moon virgin quickly shut the window and moved away when her eyes met with that of a huge man; Agu, who was the strongest warrior in Amabara. She shuddered at the thought of Chiemelie driving the dagger into Ikemba’s heart.
“No, you cannot let this happen! You said you brought me here for a purpose! Show yourself! Once I take that oath, I would be bound but it forever!” Adaora threw her hands into the air and called upon the spirits that had chosen her for help.
But there was no answer, only silence.
Feeling frustrated, she sat upon her bed and covered her face in her hands. At first, she thought it was a gentle breeze but when she remembered that she had shut the window, Adaora sensed she wasn’t alone. There was a higher presence in the room. Adaora felt right for the moon goddess had appeared to her. It was the sight of sparkling toenails and smooth dark skin, shinier than anything she had ever seen that caught her attention. Adaora followed the legs and found a robust dark skinned woman in a red dress and seven coral beads.
Her eyes were silvery but not scary. Her nose was round and small. She had thick lips which were adorned with fine red dye. She wore a silvery crown upon her head which had seven little moon shapes attached to it.
Adaora stood in awe as she stared at the magnificent being who had answered her prayers.
“My goddess…” She bowed her head. Ituri had taken another form to appear to her.
The goddess didn’t answer the greeting. She ran her silvery eyes over the moon virgin.
“Why do you not have faith in the gods? You grumble most of the time, forgetting that the gods are those who chart your mortal destinies…” Ituri began to ascend. Her legs were midair while she floated around Adaora, encircling her in a silvery glow.
Adaora could sense the irritation in the goddess’ voice. She knew what it meant to get such a fiery being annoyed. She quickly fell on her knees and offered an apology.
“I brought you here for a purpose…” Ituri began.
“Once I walked on this earth like the other gods, but there was war and we needed to return to the world that truly belonged to us. I forgot my dagger which is an important part of my godhood. It is with this dagger that my greatness lies or I may not be able to stop the war that would soon be waged by the dark demons against the whole world.
The dagger is meant to be wielded by the moon virgin. You must retrieve that dagger and bring it to me at the appointed time. Your spirit is the purest that I have found and only you can help me. One is coming that would work with you for the retrieval of the dagger from that evil King!”
Adaora bowed her head as she listened to the instructions.
“I know you are worried about the curse upon you. But it will be broken once you are married by the king for your destinies are entwined. For now, you must keep your head up and trust no one except those that your spirit agrees with.”
Adaora’s lips shivered as she asked.
“What about the King’s oath? If I and princess Uli take the oath, we will never be the same. We will die if we try to retrieve the dagger. I need an answer.”
The goddess stopped spiraling and burst into laughter. She was appalled by the slow nature of humans. They could be very foolish at times.
“When you were kidnapped into Amabara, your eyes fell on a special plant. The Ikele herbs are magical in nature. Taking the herbs would become an antidote against the punishment of breaking the oath. But you are to go to the boundary that lays between Ezeudo and Amabara- a place of streams and lonely rocks. You will find more herbs there and a man that is coming to help.”
Adaora mustered courage to ask her more questions, but the gods weren’t subject to the dictates of humans. The goddess was finished with her vessel. She faded into the darkness that dwelt in the room. When Adaora realized that the goddess of the moon was gone, she knelt down and kissed the place where the goddess had placed her feet. While kissing the earth, she found a silvery pearl…
“This must have fallen from her dress.” Adaora smiled and pressed the silvery pearl against her chest.
She quickly hid it inside her wrapper when she felt a knock on her door.
“My princess!” Princess Uli had come to say her final words to Adaora before they took the vow.
There was only one person that enjoyed addressing her like a princess even though she didn’t like it.
“Princess Uli?” Adaora raised her brows. She quickly moved towards her door and opened it. As expected, the princess strolled in casually with a look of despair on her face.
Without hesitation she blurted out, “What are we going to do to save you? After taking this oath, I can no longer help you and you know what that means?”
“I know that you care about me Uli that is why the goddess has asked me to help you as well. We shall take the oath but we will not be bound by it. We will not die for conspiracy.”
Uli scoffed, it seemed the moon virgin had taken strong drink.
“Do you know the meaning of oath? It is swearing allegiance to something and by the gods. You swear to die or run mad should you break it. I will not join you in this foolishness. I wanted to help you to run, but you refused. You think yourself wiser than I am…I will be sad to watch you die.”
Adaora understood why the princess was still angry with her.
“Wait…” She grabbed Uli by the hand. With another hand, she pulled out the glowing pearl from her wrapper and showed it to the princess.
Uli moved away from her at once. As one with powers, she could see that the pearl wasn’t from this world.
“What sort of magic is this?” Uli barked.
“I do not intend to harm you. This is evidence that Ituri appeared to me. She has provided us with great solution and we shall live even after swearing the oath.”
Uli’s brows furrowed as she listened.
“What are we to do?” She now softened towards the princess.
“After taking the oath, we will go to the boundary between our kingdoms and search for the Ikele herbs. These leaves are potent and have strong magic. We must get to it. The goddess explained that we will find a man, one who will join us and fight against your brother.”
Tears glowed in Uli’s eyes as she realized that the vision she had seen earlier was coming to pass. The man that she had seen had stepped out of the little stream that divided Ezeudo and Amabara.
What if this man was the lover she had been waiting for all her life? She couldn’t wait to meet with him.
“We must go now; the others are waiting for us.” She wiped her eyes and led Adaora out of the hut. It was time for the royal family to take their oaths.
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With the help of Anosike, Obiajulu had been able to hide herself properly in the house. The women hadn’t come because of Oriaku. They had come to Anosike’s compound because some maidens had been defiled while working on his farmlands. This was the reason the women broke into songs of sorrow and wailing, like someone had died. Anosike had been fined with twenty bags of cowries or he appeared before the king for judgment. When he realized that the women hadn’t come for his wife, he felt relieved. He would come up with a plan to appease them later.
When the sun had started to go down, Obiajulu had sneaked out Anosike’s house and found her way home. She regretted going there in the first place. If Chinedum had already returned, he would be very upset with her and this time; he had the right to be. She walked briskly. She walked with purpose on her mind. From the look of things, Anosike wasn’t ready for the throne. He wouldn’t join her in her crusade against Adaora. Even in foreign land, she hated the slave girl who had come to take everything away from her.
Obiajulu’s waist jingled upon her hips as she marched forward. She was deeply embraced in thoughts that she failed to notice the palace maiden that approached her.
“Obiajulu the wife of the great hunter,” Ifeoma clapped her hands.
It was this sound that plunged Obiajulu back to reality. When she noticed who had called her, she was insulted. The woman was a maiden and was far younger than she was.
“What is it you want?” Obiajulu eyed her angrily.
Ifeoma scoffed, knowing she had pissed the older woman.
“A little humility could take you places. I have important information about your husband. When you are less proud, you can find me at home. But don’t come empty handed, because information is an item. And all items must be traded for profit.”
The words of the palace maid confused Obiajulu. All these years, she had come to trust her husband completely. He wasn’t the kind of man that cheated. He loved her with all of his heart. What if he was taking another wife? What if he had discovered her secret affair with Anosike and had planned to divorce her?
“No!” She trembled at the thought of the great shame that would befall her.
Quickly, she advanced towards the house. She would observe Chinedum carefully to see if he was hiding something from her. If he was, she would find Ifeoma for details and find a powerful dibia later, to tie her husband’s spirit to her. He would become her slave and do her every command.
When she reached the house, she noticed that her aunt and two children were sitting outside. Their faces were sad.
“What happened?” She rushed towards them.
“Your husband said I should tell you that the king sent him on a mission to another village. He would be back in a fortnight.”
Obiajulu’s heart sank as she heard this. Ifeoma was right. Chinedum no longer loved her. He no longer trusted her. She needed to act very fast.
To be continued…