A day had passed and her husband wasn’t back at home. Obiajulu had never felt this restless. In their many years of marriage, Chinedum had never departed from home without sharing the purpose with her. She had woken up very early. Her first plan was to pay Ikemba a visit to explain the mission which he had sent her husband. The woman sat like someone in mourning. Her head was bowed. Her hair was disheveled and she tied an old wrapper piece.
“My husband has suddenly become a stranger,” Obiajulu mumbled. Chinedum had lost respect for her. How could a man abandon his family without one word to his wife? The more she thought about it, the angrier she grew. Obiajulu made a solid decision to find a powerful medicine man that would revive the love Chinedum once had for her. Everything had changed in her marriage since the day Adaora walked in. Her husband no longer submitted to her. He no longer consulted her before taking decisions which were binding on the whole family.
“She has corrupted him with her evil powers but I will not fold my arms and watch. I must pay a visit…” She bit her lip as she heard her aunt’s footsteps.
Ifeyinwa walked towards the veranda of the house. From within, she had heard gruff sounds. When she realized it was Obiajulu that was grumbling she felt relieved. She knew her niece wouldn’t be happy with Chinedum’s message, but she had to deliver it anyway. Just as Obiajulu was shocked at his sudden departure, Ifeyinwa had felt the same too; only that the gods had revealed themselves to her and asked her to include him in her prayers.
“Don’t tell me that you are still angry with your husband. It is the King that sent him on a mission, so your anger should be against Ikemba and not Chinedum.” She joined Obiajulu on the bench.
Obiajulu scoffed, “Even if the gods had sent him on an errand themselves, his duty is to me. He should’ve told me about it.”
“What if the mission requires utmost secrecy? Have you considered things from this viewpoint?” Ifeyinwa raised a brow but Obiajulu wasn’t ready to listen to her nagging.
She rose and walked towards the door. She needed to prepare herself. First, she needed to speak with Ifeoma, the palace maid who had information for her. She would know the right decision to take after that. As she neared the door, she trembled as she remembered Oriaku. Two days had passed and no one had mentioned her absence. Nobody had seen her body at the stream. Obiajulu had a feeling that something wasn’t right. She would pay Anosike a visit later.
“I hope you aren’t planning to leave the house. Your children miss you Obiajulu. You are never here for them.” Her aunt complained.
Obiajulu rolled her eyes, “If only they knew that all I have planned is for their future, they would learn to appreciate me.”
Ifeyinwa had no more words to speak. She had a feeling that her niece was up to something mischievous, but she couldn’t put a finger around it.
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Ikemba had woken up in high spirits. The gods had come to him in his dream; they had equally revealed the progress of Chinedum’s journey. A smile brightened his handsome face as he considered all the promises that the gods had made to him. It was only a matter of time, and the dagger of Ituri would be in his possession; never again would the people of Ezeudo have to fear the cruel Chiemelie.
“You look radiant this morning, what pleases the King’s heart?” The queen mother strolled into the palace without invitation. Usually, the King first met with his chiefs, but the old woman couldn’t wait for the protocols.
In her company was her closest servant, Ifeoma who had deliberately stuck closer to the royals to get more information for Obiajulu whom she expected later.
“Mother!” Ikemba smiled and spread his arms wide. She moved closer to her son and warmed his body with a motherly hug. From her lips came morning praises and blessings.
“Your rule shall be peaceful and your reign shall forever be blessed by the gods.”
Ikemba was all smiles as he nodded to the praises.
“What brings my mother so early to my throne room…?” Ikemba raised a brow. He knew something was up but he couldn’t put a finger around it.
The queen had come to discuss something that had been bothering her.
“Do you remember Anosike’s wife?”
The King nodded. How could he forget a woman like Oriaku? She was the person that made the identity of the moon virgin known.
“I do remember her. But she hasn’t paid a visit to the palace in days.” He noted.
The queen sighed. The story of Anosike’s farmers deflowering the maidens was widespread.
“Have you forgotten that you and your chiefs invited her husband for judgment? How do you expect her to come here?” The woman asked sadly for she was really drawn to Oriaku.
Ikemba raised his brows in sudden realization of what he had done.
“But you cannot blame me. I am not ungrateful to her; it’s just that Anosike must answer for the misdeeds of his farmers. Young women have been defiled…” The King was about to say more when his mother cut in.
She shook her head, “You make it look like they were raped. Have you heard the story?”
Ikemba wasn’t too interested in her story. He believed in following the rules of the land to the latter.
“It doesn’t matter if what they all shared was consensual. Anosike must appear before me and plead his cause or there would be consequences. If his farmers fail to provide a reasonable explanation to their randy behavior, they will be banished.”
The queen wasn’t pleased with her son’s judgment considering the fact that Anosike could lose many farmers in this process. She thought about Oriaku and how helpful she had been. The queen decided to pay a visit later to the farmer’s house where she hoped to meet with his wife.
“Very well then, have a blessed day.” She bowed before him and strolled out majestically.
Though he hadn’t shown it, Ikemba felt bad for Oriaku. He hadn’t meant to punish her along her husband because of her kindness. He had never had issues with Anosike, but the reports of the hideous things that went on in his farm didn’t sit well with Ikemba.
“Please guide me on the right path to tread…” he pleaded to the gods.
Just when he closed his eyes, a vision appeared. A blinding and bright light filled his mind. Slowly the pristine rays gave way to a favorable atmosphere. The vision felt so real. It was as if Ikemba was there, but he was still on his throne. He felt the softness of the wind as it caressed his back. He could smell the scent of the earth crust mixing with drying leaves. He could smell the scent of the stream…he was at the boundary between Ezeudo and Amabara. His heart leapt with joy at the sight of his goddess, the virgin of the sun and moon, Adaora. She approached the water with another maiden who was fair of skin.
“Someone is watching us…” Adaora paused in her steps. She had come to the boundary with princess Uli to find the leaves that would inhibit the power of the oath.
To be continued…