Aisha’s eyes twinkled with mischief. Fatima could only fool her darling Umar. It was obvious that her complain about the headache was a lie. Fatima was looking for a way to move ahead with her journey to the castle and she couldn’t allow that. She was yet to see Ralia to know the situation of things and her stand in the matter. It was time to tie all the loose ends of her plan, and Fatima was going to be a great problem in future.
“Why don’t I escort you back to the ranch? I do not want you to fall off your horse like I once did when I suffered a terrible headache. My company is important for your safety…”
Fatima scoffed, “Thank you, but I can see myself to the ranch.”
Umar’s admiration for Aisha increased as he listened to her merciful offer. Truly, this woman was a charmer and he was lucky that she had chosen him.
“Fati, don’t be difficult now. It is best that Aisha accompanies you back as I must make some deliveries to some of my customers right away.”
Fatima glared into Umar’s innocent eyes. How could she refuse him anything? She released the angry breath that she had been keeping in, since the arrival of the witch. Well, if that’s what Umar wanted, she was down with it.
“Very well then, I hope to see you for dinner?” Fatima asked.
“I will try my best.” Umar nodded.
Fatima’s horse began to move and Aisha closely followed behind. She waved to Umar and turned to see what was ahead of her. She would postpone her mission and ride out later. She needed to speak to Fatima one on one and find out what she was really up to.
When the women were a good distance away from the flowery meadow, Aisha punched her horse on the back; an action to increase its speed. The animal was suddenly filled with a new wave of power, so it outsmarted Fatima’s immaculate horse. When Aisha was certain that Fatima was behind, she brought the animal to a halt.
“Do you think I am stupid?” Aisha barked at Fatima.
Sensing the need to pause and the other horse that had created a blockade, Fatima’s horse slowed down. At first, Fatima didn’t want to grant Aisha audience because she wasn’t prepared for a fight.
“I think the answer lies in the need for your question to be answered. Perhaps you are indeed stupid. You just needed a reminder or an assurance for your stupidity.” It was unlike Fatima to be rude, but she couldn’t help it. Every breath that emanated from Aisha’s nostrils offended her. The stench of her abominable act and her pretence around Umar worsened everything.
Aisha was stung by Fatima’s boldness and fierce attitude. Fatima had insulted her. No one had ever dared to speak to her like that! This insult had gored into Aisha’s well protected pride. She couldn’t believe that Fatima would have the courage to say such words to her.
“If you think putting words into Iman’s lips will get you Umar, then you are mistaken. It is very clear that Umar wants to be with me, why are you standing in the way of destiny? You had your chance but you ruined it. Allow me to enjoy mine.”
Fatima thought carefully of the words that she would speak next. When her careful consideration was done, she cleared her throat.
“We both know that Umar is never going to marry you. You are a soiled woman. You do not deserve Umar, but you can have Abdul if that is your wish. Also, Iman is not a child. She knows what is right and I intend to bring justice to Umar’s feet.”
Fatima spoke more poisonous words that unsettled Aisha. She hadn’t seen this one coming. Fatima was going to be a very difficult loose end to tie.
“I dare you to speak one word to Iman or Umar and I shall expose your family. You think you are better than myself, but you are just a greedy hag. You are a gold digger. I heard about his love for you and how you rejected him. It seemed that someone finally made up her mind about love when she discovered that their ranch was falling apart.”
When Fatima didn’t respond, Aisha covered the space between them and faced her head-on.
“Next time you talk trash to me and try to threaten me, I will make sure that you join your father in his beloved heavenly palace.” Aisha was certain that these last words would put Fatima in her place, but she was wrong. Her heart sank when she noticed that Fatima didn’t flinch or avoid her gaze. It was at this point that Aisha realized that she was in great trouble. There was only one way to handle this kind of loose end. It was a very traditional means.
Fatima guffawed to the hearing of the trees.
“If you are done barking, you will get out of my way. You can go ahead and tell Umar whatever you like, but I can explain myself out. I can pretend not to love him or need his money. But your case if worse, I have evidence. Iman will always take my side no matter what happens.
At first, I didn’t want to expose you but I am now convinced more than ever that you are devil-sent. Umar must know the kind of woman that you are, before it is too late.”
Satisfied with the fear she had inflicted upon Aisha, Fatima moved away from her. She would take another route to Umar’s castle. She wasn’t afraid of Aisha; Aisha had no real power. The only person that made her uncomfortable was her brother, Tanko.

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The news of another dead escalated quickly. It spread like wild fire and before evening had fallen upon the land, everyone was aware of the newest murder. Abdul knew that the people would soon protest against his removal as chief protector if he didn’t do anything to solve the murders. He had gone to the market square where the murder had taken place, but he had not found the body. The place had been totally deserted and there was no one left to question. Noon had turned to sundown and he was still at the spot where he had first come. Abdul had found Rahib and they were now searching for the man’s body.
“What have you found?” Abdul quizzed. He had never been this nervous his entire life. If the people rejected him, it will make matters worse in his relationship with Aisha. He had to have a good appearance before her. Already, he had messed up and solving these murders would bring him greater honor. Women like Aisha were very material, they could easily be bought. Once she was aware of his full power, she would forgive him and return to his arms.
“Yes, this is a perfect idea,” a smile curled on his lips.
“Master?” Rahib was a bit confused by his master’s smile. Someone had just been murdered; smiling wasn’t the best thing to do except of course he had come up with the perfect plan to catch the killers.
Abdul got rid of the smile and faced his subordinate.
Rahib sighed, “I still haven’t been able to find the body. It seems that the killers must have taken it. I don’t know where else to search.”
Abdul knew that this would be the worst that could happen in an investigation that required and autopsy. These killings weren’t ordinary, there was motive beyond reason and they needed to get to the root of the problem.
“We cannot leave until we find that body. There has to be a way somehow. We must keep looking.” Abdul decided to join Rahib on the search. As the two men began to look around, they heard someone sobbing behind. When they turned around, they found a woman crying.
They exchanged glances.
“Do you think we should talk to her? Or we could ignore her. What would a woman be doing alone in a deserted market?” Rahib whispered.
The fear wasn’t hidden in his voice.
“Don’t tell me you believe a woman can be a killer. I have not had that experience before.” Abdul sneered and abandoned him. He advanced towards the sobbing woman.

To be continued…

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