“Adaora…” Chinedum called calmly, trying very hard not to scoop her into his arms and hug her. He had no lustful intentions towards her but he had grown fond of her and he cared for her. His children had fallen in love with her.
Uli weakly raised her head to see the owner of the beautiful voice. She forgot the pain that momentarily bit into her skin.
Slowly, Adaora turned around. Her eyes widened in shock. Her feet were glued to the spot where she stood. Cold washed over her.
“Master?” Her lips fell apart.
“Don’t be afraid. I am no spirit. I…” He bit his lip as he noticed that the wounded maiden was watching him.
Adaora covered her lips with her palms to prevent herself from screaming. Tears rushed down her cheeks.
“You came…you came to save me?” She couldn’t believe it.
At this point, he couldn’t hold himself back. He launched forward and pulled the crying maiden into his arms.
“I came to save you and retrieve the dagger.” He whispered so Uli wouldn’t understand. Adaora released her hands and wrapped it around him. She sobbed against his chest as she remembered her last time at Ezeudo. She had just finished putting Adaugo and Ikenna to sleep, and then she had gone to the stream to fetch water.
Chinedum sighed with relief.
“Everyone was so worried about you. It was Okeke, the palm wine tapper that told us about the kidnap because he had been around the stream area.”
“I tried to fight them but they were stronger than I am…” She pulled away from his arms gently.
Chinedum nodded. He smiled and searched her green eyes.
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“You don’t have to be secretive anymore. I know about your powers and your destiny. You are meant for the King, Ikemba of Ezeudo. He sent me to rescue you. We all know that you are the moon virgin-the living representation of Ituri and Anyanwu.”
Adaora licked her lips and stepped away from him. How did her master know all these about her? She had never told anyone about herself except Oriaku.
“But how did you…?” She paused.
“That would be a story for another day. I must treat your friend now.” He walked closer to Uli who was now writhing on the ground.
“I see you have made friends…” He knelt beside Uli, hoping to get details about the relationship with Adaora.
Adaora was smart enough to know this.
“You can relax around her. She is Chiemelie’s sister, but she doesn’t fight on his side. She has been the one helping me and showing me the evil plans that the King of Amabara has for Ezeudo.”
Uli had closed her eyes the moment Chinedum advanced towards her. She couldn’t stand him because he was extremely handsome. His dark skin glowed under the mild sun that illuminated the boundary. His chest was covered with hairs. His body was lean and hard; his legs were hairy too. He had a straight nose and thick lips. It was the kindness in his dark eyes that melted her heart. Uli felt embarrassed at her own self. How could she be admiring a stranger whom she had just seen and in her condition?
“I am sorry pretty one. I shot the arrow hoping to kill that dangerous serpent; I didn’t mean to hurt you…” Chinedum smiled as he stared at her pretty face. Uli wasn’t as beautiful as Adaora. Neither could she match Obiajulu in beauty. But there was something about her that drew him, perhaps it was the fact that she was the sister to the wickedest creature on earth yet had a beautiful spirit.
Uli took in his scent. He smelt of earth; of sweat and of bravery but she still liked him. She thought about the dream she had. A stranger had walked towards her by the boundary. Her heart skipped as she remembered it. Was this the stranger?
“I have to administer the antidote. The arrow was poisoned.” Chinedum bellowed. He took off the bag that he carried and pulled out a black vial.
“Thank you for saving us…” Adaora smiled and knelt next to him.
Chinedum knew administering the antidote would be difficult.
“You’ll have to do it. Pour the black content into your mouth; breathe thrice and pour it into her lips and that’s how it works.”
Adaora raised her brows as she imagined touching the princess with her lips.
“I think it is appropriate that you do it because it is your poison…” Adaora quickly rose to her feet and returned to plucking the herbs, this time she was more careful. She didn’t want Chinedum to force her into administering the antidote.
“I am sorry pretty one, but I cannot let you die…” He emptied the content of the vial into his mouth and leaned forward.
Uli died a thousand times as she heard him whisper. As his warm breath poured on her face, her heart raced wildly. Gently, Chinedum touched her lips. Uli couldn’t resist the softness of his mouth. She opened at once and he emptied the bitter liquid into her mouth.
He was supposed to pull his lips away from her after that, but he couldn’t. He couldn’t explain what drove him at the moment but he found himself tasting of her sweet mouth. He slid his tongue inside her mouth, licked her lips…Uli enjoyed every bit of what he was doing to her. When he suddenly realized what had happened, Chinedum quickly pulled away from the princess.
Just in time, the antidote evoked a dry cough from her lips and she straightened. When she opened her eyes, they locked with Chinedum’s but he quickly looked away.
“Princess!” Adaora rushed towards her.
“What about the stomach wound?” Uli fired rudely.
“I will apply the Ikele herbs. It would heal.” Adaora responded.
Chinedum felt comfortable and confused. He wasn’t a man that lost control easily. He made a mental note to stay away from the princess.
“This is my master and he has come to work with us. You can trust him.” Adaora went on to explain Chinedum’s mission to the princess. Uli was pleased that a man could be that courageous. She wished he could turn around and look at her.
“Do you plan to find the dagger by hiding between the rocks?” She called out to him.
Chinedum scoffed. She had a sharp tongue like Obiajulu.
“Is hiding between the rocks a bad thing?” He inhaled deeply and turned to face her.
Uli had a perfect idea and she didn’t waste time in sharing it.
“What if you follow us back to the palace? I could find you a hut to live. This would make your job easier.”
Adaora and her master were confused.
“How is that possible? The palace is heavily guarded,” Adaora reminded her.
“I guess you hate me so much. Chiemelie will strike me down.”
Uli felt bad that he thought she hated him.
“Um, if you come with us, I will show my brother my wound. I will tell him that I and Adaora were taking a walk towards the stream and a serpent attacked us. I will tell him of a stranger who showed kindness to his sister.”
That sounded plausible to Chinedum, but there was one problem.
“How do I disguise myself? He would ask about my land of origin?”
With the help of Adaora, Uli rose to her feet and limped towards him.
“My brother may be a devil, but I am his sister. Tell him anything you want but don’t mention Ezeudo. You shall swear his oath but eat of the Ikele herbs with us. On our way to the palace, we will reach a conclusion.”
Adaora noticed the way Uli warmed up to her master. It wasn’t the same treatment that the princess had given to her the first time she came. Adaora smiled as they walked away from the boundary, for the goddess had whispered in her ear. Chinedum was attracted to the princess. And the princess was fascinated by him.
To be continued…