Ikemba’s vision continued, though he saw Uli, his eyes were focused on the woman whom the gods had chosen for him; his one and true goddess. He ran his eyes over her. She seemed happy. She was extremely beautiful. Even in the spirit realm, he desired to see her face to face.
“Should we turn back?” Princess Uli’s lips shivered. If her brother had sent some men after them, there was no escaping his wrath. If he knew that they had come to the boundary to fetch the leaves that would make the oath useless, the King could sentence them both to death.
Adaora continued to search the environment.
“No…” A smile danced on her lips as she sensed in her spirit.
“Don’t you think it’s best we go back before we are discovered? What explanation would we give?” Princess Uli had a point. What would they say two maidens were doing at the boundary between the two great kingdoms?
Adaora placed a reassuring hand on Uli’s shoulder.
“I have been assured within that it is a good spirit that watches over us. We must continue.”
It was only then that Uli felt relaxed. As they marched towards the stream, Uli couldn’t help but admire the beauty of the boundary.
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“Sometimes, I wish Ezeudo and Amabara had never gone separate ways. We have all been blessed with something…” She smiled as she spoke of the ambience. Adaora didn’t pay much attention to the princess. She scoured the area for leaves for the special herb which Ituri had instructed them to gather. Adaora began to hum a song as she neared the grasses. Her eyes soon fell on the purple flowers which marked the herb from the weeds.
“Is that it?” Uli was a bit skeptical. She had expected it to be more difficult to procure.
“Yes. Ituri isn’t a goddess of parables. She is very straightforward.” Adaora lowered herself so she could reach the herbs. Uli wasn’t comfortable still but she decided to push her aside her worries. She had a feeling that something bad was about to happen but she couldn’t place a finger around it.
Adaora failed to notice the sharp thorns on the herbs, so when she tried to pluck the first, her fingers bled. A sharp scream escaped her lips as she pulled away immediately. Without warning, a cobra that had been hiding raised its head to strike. It released its reptilian tongue, ready to strike the intruder. But Adaora was too busy with her bleeding hands to notice the golden serpent that slowly arose from its hiding place. It was Uli that saw it first.
“Watch out!” She stepped forward to pull Adaora back, but it was too late. A sharp arrow flew from the tall rocks and pierced into the cobra’s head. The pieces of the arrow hit Uli on her belly.
“Arhhh!!!” She screamed and covered the wound with her hands.
“No!” Adaora swallowed and moved to hold the princess from falling.
The maidens were confused. They were scared.
“I told you…I warned you about my brother.”
Tears stung Adaora’s eyes as she stared at Uli. What if the princess died in her arms? How would she explain this to Chiemelie? But the gods had assured her that whoever was watching was a good spirit.
Uli felt the warmth of her blood as it trickled down her skin. The pain was sharp and it came in bouts. Her head was starting to spin very fast and her bones were growing cold.
“Adaora…” She called the moon goddess by name for the first time.
“Please don’t say anything. I have to figure out a way to save you. You cannot die on me…” Adaora cried silently.
“Adaora…” She stuttered and winced as the pain increased.
Chinedum had been hiding between the rocks. He had spotted Adaora and a beautiful woman walking towards the boundary. At first, he was excited and had wanted to show himself, but he knew how delicate his mission was. He could trust Adaora, but he didn’t know the other woman with her. While secretly watching them, he had noticed a movement within the array of grasses. He had hunted in the forests for a long time to know when a dangerous serpent was about to strike. Without waste of time, he had come to their rescue; only that he failed to aim very well.
He closed his eyes and thought of the next action to take. His arrows weren’t usually poisoned, but for this mission he had dipped them in a broth of poisonous plants.
“If I don’t save her…” He sighed. He had the antidote with him. If he failed to give it to her, she would die.
“What do I do now?” He murmured and drummed his bare feet against the rocks. Adaora was crying. And the beautiful woman was growing weaker each passing moment. He closed his eye and pulled in a deep breath. He reminded himself about the mission to retrieve the dagger and save Adaora. Those were his objectives and not to murder an innocent woman. Chinedum jumped out of his hiding place and marched majestically towards the maidens.
As he stepped forward, he felt someone was watching him but he wasn’t sure if the eyes were real or were eyes of his own imagination.
“Please stop talking, I have to get help…” Adaora wiped her face and rose to her feet.
“No, No, you will get yourself killed.” Uli protested weakly.
“Don’t be a fool princess! I will do whatever it takes to save your life.” Adaora replied. She knew that the princess was afraid of her brother and what he would do to them if he discovered their true intentions.
“Your life is more important than mine; you must run back to Ezeudo. This could be your only opportunity to escape the gruesome death that awaits you. It seems the gods have led us this far. They have sealed my fate and I will die in peace.”
Adaora was saddened as she stared at Uli lying on reddish earth. This was her fault. Perhaps the strange arrow wouldn’t have pierced the princess if they had turned back. Adaora’s heart skipped as she realized that they hadn’t taken notice of the shooter. What if the King’s guards had followed them?
She was about to share her worries with the princess, when she heard someone call her from behind. At first, she thought she was imagining because she recognized the voice. It was deep. It was cool. It was friendly. It was the voice of her master. Her heart raced like never before.
To be continued…