The time seemed to crawl at first, or maybe it was the fact that she was in a new environment. The king had refused to take his eyes off of her. Adaora felt sick as his perverted eyes raked her feminine body but she managed a smile. Being in Amabara wasn’t what she dreamt of. But she needed to comply else Chiemelie could kill her. She could read his aura properly now. Princess Uli was the only just royal but her mother, Efuru and her brothers, the King were black hearted.
Chiemiele had been in a meeting with his elders-in-council. The palace was a large hut and structured in a way that there was ample space. The moon virgin had been placed far away from the place of meeting, so he could watch her face while he conversed with his men.
“You have done well by bringing the daughter of the moon and sun to us!” The first elder praised. Amanze was a man of a few words, but he was particularly excited today. Like every indigene of Amabara, he had a deep hatred for the King of Ezeudo and all those who came from Ezeudo.
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He had spoken the mind of the other elders. They were proud of their young King and vowed to continue their support.
“Thank you wise ones, I thank Igwekala most especially for standing on my side. We shall carry out the marriage ceremony as soon as possible. I cannot wait for the moon virgin to be mine!” He chuckled. The King’s laughter was like a ceremony, it invited more laughter.
Adaora stole a glance at the men once in a while. They were speaking in hushed tones, marked by secrecy and sacredness. Before them was a huge calabash of kolanuts, dry alligator pepper and bitter kola. They were talking about her. She wondered why the gods couldn’t save her from this predicament. Her heart didn’t belong here, it belonged somewhere else…
Just then, the face of the handsome stranger appeared in her mind but she couldn’t think about him now. Coming to Amabara was for a reason and she would discover it. Tired of being ogled, Adaora dared the king and rose to her feet. She marched fearlessly towards the opening that served as both entrance and exit. At first, the guards meant to block her way, but when they exchanged glances with the king and recalled the lightning that had struck when Adaora was brought to the palace; they quickly gave way to her.
“Thank you my King,” she quickly bowed before stepping out.
“May I be your guide?” One of the warriors rushed to her side.
“No, I prefer to be on my own. I will not run away if that’s what you think.” She returned.
The first person she encountered was Princess Uli. At first, Uli wanted to ignore the moon virgin; she’d wanted to avoid her at all cost but her conscience wouldn’t let her.
“You shouldn’t be here. If you could show such power out there, why can’t you vanish back to Ezeudo?” Uli fired at Adaora.
Adaora smiled, “I haven’t done anything to offend you. Why are you so uncomfortable around me?”
Uli had no words. But she had something else to show Adaora.
“I do not know you, but my I worship the gods in truth and in spirit. I have been told that you are the true moon virgin, but you cannot stay here for long.”
“What do you mean by, ‘you are the true moon virgin?’ Have there be others before me?” Adaora raised a brow.
Uli searched the surrounding, hoping no one was listening.
“If my brother finds out that I have shared this secret with you, he will kill me. Come, let me show you that there have been many others before you and they all died a gruesome death.”
Adaora felt reluctant to follow the princess. She still hadn’t figured out the purpose of her presence in Amabara. She didn’t want to get into trouble with the King. Uli sensed her hesitation.
“I will not harm you and this isn’t a trap. I just want you to find your way back to Ezeudo and tell Ikemba of what my brother is planning.” Without Adaora’s permission, Uli grabbed her hand and dragged her towards the most secret place of the palace.
Chiemelie had envied Ikemba for a long time. Ezeudo was a lna dof prosperity while Amabara only existed in past glory. For many years, his father had tried to oust Ikemba’s father from the throne, but the battle had never been won. Chiemelie had dedicated his life to finding a way to kill Ikemba and take over Ezeudo. The oracle had revealed that the only way for that to happen was through the moon virgin. This had started a fire of desperation and eagerness in him.
Adaora’s belly was trapped in nausea as they neared a pit. Dark red stains mixed with loamy earth. Flies perched on the markings on the ground that resembled bloodstains. Flies built themselves an empire around the pit. A stench of terrible rot and dirty filled the air. When the moon virgin couldn’t hold it any longer, she pulled in a deep breath and spat some mucus on the ground. She noticed that the princess didn’t seem affected by this decaying stench.
“What is this place?” Adaora bit her lip and searched around. They were far from the palace. This area was surrounded by ancient looking walnut trees that formed a thick canopy with their leaves. It was cold and dark. It resembled a dome of demons, like in the stories that her mother had once told her.
Uli flapped the cow whip in her hand over her face to chase the flies away.
“My brother’s torture house…come,” Uli stepped closer to the deep pit.
Adaora shook her head, “I will not come any closer unless you tell me what this place is. Why did you bring me here?”
Uli licked her lips and stared at the bodies trapped in the pit.
“I know he is my brother and I am supposed to be loyal. But I cannot seal my conscience with iron. I am a child of truth and that is the reason I am hated by my mother. The King is evil in all his ways and he will not spare you if you fail in your mission…”
“What mission?” Adaora searched Uli’s eyes. When Uli refused to speak, she had no choice but to cover the distance between herself and the pit. She prayed to the gods of the moon and sun until she reached it. A wave of dizziness hit her head as she stared at the melting dead bodies. Though she didn’t recognize them, she could tell that the majority of bodies in the pit were women because of the hundreds of beads she saw. If their skulls weren’t split apart, their limbs were dismembered from the other parts of their body.
To be continued…