Ogbanje sneaked out of her room late at night, gently and quietly passing her two sisters sleeping prone figures as their snores disturbed the silent night.
She quietly tip toed towards the front door, opened it and closing the door gently behind her. Then she ran towards Udum village river.
“It is time for Nnenna to die, Aku requires for her blood. Today marks the third day Nnenna’s life will end”
. Eze Nwayi told her follow witches coven as they all laughed but were cut short when they had a voice.
“Nnenna won’t die ndá»‹ amoosu- you witches. As long as I live, you no longer have the powers over her”.
“Who dares interrupt the great gathering of Okosisi? Show yourself if you have the guts?” Bellowed Eze Nwayi in anger as she and her coven witches looks around them.
“Can you dare a lion to fight with you and you live to tell the tale? I have said what I needed to say, do not dare me, Nnenna will not die, I have spoken and so shall it be”.
“You lied, you are just a coward hiding behind your shadow. Aku will take his sacrifice, if you think you are made of iron then come out of your hiding place and face me coward”. Ezeb Nwayi said in anger.
The unknown voice gave out a hilarious laugh.
“I am already standing in front of you”, once the voice said that Eze Nwayi and her coven stare around them, the voice continued, “And your great Aku is a weaker and lesser god before me”.
“You dare insult the god who gave us riches and wealth and made us who we are, we shall see who loses this battle”, Eze Nwayi said and raised her staff up, all her coven witches also stretch our their arms towards the staff.
The voice continued laughing, “I have made my point clear, if you touch Nnenna, you all would receive my wrath”.
“Till then”, Eze Nwayi said and then continued “I invoke you ancient spirit of the death, go and kill Nnenna, her blood must be used tonight”.
Something full of darkness crept out of the raised staff and with an inhuman speed went towards Nnenna’s home.
Eze Nwayi started hitting her staff on the ground and was dancing in circle, her follow coven witches stood up and started dancing in circle, Eze Nwayi was in there middle.
“They want to dare me”, The voice told Ogbanje as she made her way towards the hut of Nnenna.
She had gone to the river as the voice had instructed and listen to the conversation between the voice and the witches.
And now the voice had told her to hurry up to Nnenna’s hut. She was a faster runner.
She got there waiting for whatever the witches has send.
Ebuka on the other hand wasn’t asleep in fact he was wide awake when he heard a noise, he quietly stood up from his bamboo bed and went towards where he usually kept his cutlass in one corner of his hut, took it and made his way towards the front door, he opened it soundlessly and peep outside and was surprised to see Ogbanje standing Akimbo in front of the hut.
He opened the door widely and stepped outside towards Ogbanje.
“So is this the plan you said you had?” Ebuka asked as he approaches Ogbanje. But Ogbanje remain silent and kept staring ahead.
“Ogbanje, what is it again, are they coming to kill my mother?” Ebuka questioned.
“Shhhhhh, I smell it”, Ogbanje said all of a sudden.
“Smell what Ogbanje”, Ebuka said.
“It is here already”.
Eze Nwayi and her fellow witches were still dancing when the roar of a thunder was heard, lightening followed suit as it struck in their midst scattering them and flung some of them away.
Everyone including the Eze Nwayi disappeared and went back to their various bodies.
Ogbanje eyes shone white and pointed a single finger towards the direction of the fast moving spirit.
Ebuka did not know what happened after that all he knew was when Ogbanje pointed her finger, the thunder that blasted was too much that he had to close his ear against the sound.
Ogabnje wiped off her hand from her waist wrapper and turned to Ebuka with a smiling face.
“The battle is over”.
“Does that mean my mother won’t die?”
Ogbanje nodded her head in affirmative. Ebuka jumped for joy and almost knocked down Ogbanje in his state of happiness.
“So what about my mother’s illness?”
“She will get well before the cock crows today”.
“Thank you Ada, thank you”. Ebuka said elated.
Aku was restless in his aboard. How could a mere human girl stops his death spirit when it went to kill one of his followers, how is that possible!?
He has to see Ikenga once again.
“Ogbanje, go and fetch me some fire wood so that I will use it in preparing our evening food”. Adaku told Ogbanje.
“If Uzochi and Ugochi are not coming with me to fetch the firewood then I am not going anywhere”. Ogbanje retorted.
As your witch started again eh gbo Ogbanje? Don’t dare me this afternoon Ogbanje because the whole people of Udum will gathered me and you when I start my own”. Adaku shouted but Ogbanje wasn’t afraid.
“And I have told you that I won’t step any of my foot outside my father’s compound if my sisters are not coming with me. If you like talk from now till tomorrow or carry Ogene gong and beat around the village á»‹ na-ahá»¥ nke a á»¥kwá»¥ m, ha agaghá»‹ aga ebe á»� bá»¥la- you see this my legs, they will not go any where”. Ogbanje said and went inside her hut
“Enweghá»‹ ihe m ga-ahá»¥ n’aka nwa agbá»�ghá»� ahá»¥- There is nothing I will not see in the hands of this girl”. Adaku said “But Chere oo- wait oo, who has given this girl the mind to talk back at me and walked out of me? If I tell her father, he would support her and not me. M ga-emeso nwa agbá»�ghá»� a nsogbu n’amaghá»‹ ama- I will deal with this girl mercilessly”.
Adaku went to fetch the water by herself at the village river.
“Papa, the night has not yet eaten it’s supper, so please tell us a story”. Ogbanje told her father that evening. She, Ugochi and Uzochi were sited around him.
Okoro cleared his throat as he began “Long time ago in the animal kingdom”, Okoro began as his three daughter listened with rapt attention.
They had just finished a full plate of pounded yam with thick egusi soup garnished with bush meat, it’s aroma filled the air around them.
“Mbe had used up all his salt, and he found his meals so tasteless without it that he decided to call on his brother and ask him if he had any to spare.
His brother had plenty. “How will you get it back to your home?” he asked Mbe.
“If you will wrap the salt in a piece of bark cloth, and tie it up with string, then I can put the string over my shoulder and drag the parcel along the ground behind me,” said Mbe.
“A splendid idea!” exclaimed his brother, and between them they made a tidy package of the salt.
Then Mbe set off for his long, slow journey home, with the bundle going bump, bump, bump, along the ground behind him.
Suddenly he was pulled up short, and turning round, he saw that a large akwa- Lizard had jumped on to the parcel of salt and was sitting there, staring at him.
“Get off my salt!” exclaimed Mbe. “How do you expect me to drag it home with you on top of it?”
“It’s not your salt!’ replied the akwa. “I was just walking along the path when I found this bundle lying there, so I took possession of it and now it belongs to me.”
“What rubbish you talk!” said Mbe. “You know well it is mine, for I am holding the string that ties it.
“But the akwa still insisted that he had found the parcel lying in the road, and he refused to get off, unless Mbe went with him to the elders, to have their case tried in court.
Poor Mbe had to agree, and together they went before the old men at the court.
First Mbe put his case, explaining that as his arms and legs were so short he always had to carry bundles by dragging them along behind him.
Then the Akwa put his side of the matter, saying that he had found the bundle lying in the road. ‘”Surely anything that is picked up on the road belongs to the one who picks it up?” cried the Akwa.
The old men discussed the matter seriously for some time; but many of them were related to the Akwa and thought that they might perhaps get a share of the salt, so eventually they decreed that the bundle should be cut into two, each animal taking half.
Mbe was disappointed, because he knew it really was his salt, but he sighed with resignation and let them divide the parcel.
The Akwa immediately seized the half that was covered with the biggest piece of cloth, leaving poor Mbe with most of his salt escaping from his half of the parcel, and spilling out on to the ground.
In vain did Mbe try to gather his salt together.
His hands were too small and there was too little cloth to wrap round it properly.
Finally he departed for home, with only a fraction of his share, wrapped up in leaves and what remained of the bark cloth, while the elders scraped up all that had been spilled, dirty though it was, and took it back to their wives.
Mbe’s wife was very disappointed when she saw how little salt he had brought with him, and when he told her the whole story she was most indignant at the way he had been treated. The long, slow journey had tired him, and he had to rest for several days.
But although Mbe was so slow, he was very cunning and eventually thought up a plan to get even with the Akwa.
So, after a few days of rest, and saying good-bye to his wife, he plodded along the road towards the akwa’s home with a gleam in his eye, and after some time he caught sight of the akwa, who was enjoying a solitary meal of flying ants.
Slowly and silently Mbe came upon him from behind and put his hands on the middle of the akwa body. “See what I’ve found!” called Mbe loudly.
“What are you doing?” asked the perplexed Akwa. “I was just walking along the path when I found something lying there,” explained Mbe. “So I picked it up and now it belongs to me, just as you picked up my salt the other day.”
When the akwa continued to wriggle and demanded that Mbe set him free, mbe insisted that they go to the court and get the elders to judge.
The old men listened attentively to both sides of the story, and then one said: “If we are to be perfectly fair, we must give the same judgment that we gave concerning the salt.”
“Yes,” said the others, nodding their white heads, “and we had the bag of salt cut in two.
Therefore we must cut the akwa in two, and mbe shall have half.”
“That is fair,” replied Mbe, and before the lizard could escape, he seized a knife from an elder’s belt and sliced him in half, and that was the end of the greedy lizard”. Okoro concluded his story and bid his daughters a good night sleep.
Ikenga was shown Ogbanje as she went towards the river.
“That was the girl the spirit of death says it had encountered with”. Aku told Ikenga.
“A pretty young lady”. Ikenga admired her beauty.
“If she is as strong as you have said. Then she is fit to become my Queen”. Ikenga said out of blue.
“I don’t get you wise one, she is human and you are a god and by the way how do you intend to make her your queen?”.
Ikenga laughed out loud. “I will be to the mortal world as one of them”.
TO BE CONTINUED…