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.

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“We don’t have a plan on how we’ll retrieve the dagger from the King’s palace.” Uli alerted the rest as they marched towards the palace. Adaora finally understood why the goddess had brought her to Amabara. She’d noticed the shyness in Princess Uli whenever she stole a glance at her master’s face. This was another confirmation that the gods had brought here for a reason.
“That’s a good thought. But don’t you think we should focus on how to make our story believable? We must convince your brother that we were in trouble and this kind man saved us.” Adaora replied.
Chinedum had been observing the paths of the Kingdom. He didn’t see it necessary to join the maidens in their conversation. While his ears were with them, his heart was for home. He thought about his little children and the stubborn woman whom he had left behind. He knew Obiajulu would be very unhappy with him, but he couldn’t have seen an opportunity to save Adaora and reject it.
“What do you think master?” Adaora turned to him.
“We do not have time to waste. The princess is right. We must find a way to retrieve Ituri’s knife as fast as we can. Don’t think for a minute that Chiemelie is a fool. He may believe our story for a short time, but we have to be quick.” Chinedum was determined to take the dagger from the palace and run with Adaora back home.
Uli admired his courage. Not many men would have genuine love for their slaves like Chinedum. He was a responsible man, fit enough for a princess. But her heart sank as she thought about his wife and children. She liked Chinedum already. Though he wouldn’t say a word to her, her spirit was drawn to him.
However, Uli didn’t want a man that already had a wife. She was a royalty and everything given to her had to be brand new. Perhaps the gods were wrong. Perhaps this wasn’t the man she had seen by the boundary in her vision.
“When do we go for the dagger?” Adaora whispered as they neared the palace.
Chinedum didn’t have any idea.
“What do you think princess?” He turned to Uli. He admired her for her smartness. Not many women would have this boldness to pursue justice. He loved that she fought on the right side. He also loved that she stood for what was right not minding the consequences of her action.
Uli smiled and stole a glance at his handsome face.
“Currently, the inhabitants of Amabara are taking their oath of allegiance. On the decree of the King, the oath-taking is to last for three days. This is the first day. We will wait. We will blend in. On the third night, we’ll find a way to reach the dagger. But I must warn you two, it is safeguarded and bound by many spells that only a supernatural can break.”
“Very well then, we shall try our luck or die trying…” Chinedum returned her smile.
As they reached the entrance of the palace, Princess Uli noticed that her mother, the Queen had been standing outside with some elders. From the look on their faces, they were talking about something important but she didn’t care.
“Where is my brother?” Uli barked at one of the guards.
“He is attending to some chiefs.” The guard returned with a bow. Uli licked her lips and stared at her mother once more. Something horrible had happened.
“What is going on?” She shifted closer to the guard, while her companions continued to stare.
The guard cleared his throat and announced that an abomination had just happened.
“This morning, some maidens had gone to the Amabara stream to fetch some water. They found a body by the bank. It seemed the person was attacked and dropped there. The chief priest, Igwekala has decreed that no one must drink or fetch from the stream for seven days.”
Uli was shocked, “So what would the people drink? We cannot go to the river, because the goddess of that river is very unfriendly. Children and women drown every year. There must be a way out.”
She quickly turned towards Adaora and Chinedum.
“Follow me…”
Chinedum noticed the concern that had glowed in her eyes as she talked about the stream. Though she was a princess, she still cared about the wellbeing of her people.
Efuru had been discussing the latest happening with the chiefs when she noticed her daughter walking in with a stranger. She recognized the moon goddess but not the other man. The Queen also noticed the bloodstain on Uli’s wrapper.
“My child, are you alright?” The Queen rushed towards the princess.
Though Uli wasn’t her favorite, she still loved her.
“What happened?” She asked.
Adaora licked her lips and prayed that her lies worked.
“After taking the oath, we decided to go for a walk. Out of nowhere some men attacked us. They shot the princess and were ready to molest me, but for this kind man who showed up at the right time…” Adaora gestured at Chinedum whose head was bowed.
The Queen and the elders were surprised at this story, but they believed it.

To be continued…

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