King Nzekwe was sitting outside his palace enjoying a favorite meal. His guards were on both his right and left sides, with their knives sheathed.
Ikeagu began coming toward him like a raged lion. When the guards saw him they prepared to go forward, ready to prevent from reaching the king. “You both should return!” The king ordered them. They returned as slowly as they could, but still expecting the worse with their knives unsheathed.
“Why are you coming towards me as though I declared a war on you?” He asked Ikeagu who wore no smile on his face.
“Although you have declared no war on me, I have declared war on both you and those chiefs. Nnenna my friend has been missing from Umuagu, the women have been looking for her!” He revealed to him and gave the guards a disdaining look. Then King faced downward and sensed maybe Dimgba has began another plan. I believe this one was planned to disturb me, he thought.
“I did not order anyone to touch her. I will make sure she is found as soon as possible”. He promised.
“I am not asking you for help, because if you could not help Omenike, who else can you help? I have only come to declare my war and to make you know I have begun what none of you will love me for”. He told the king angrily. King Nzekwe stood up and thought of what to tell him, but couldn’t find words.
“You should have known that I will not come here to talk to you like your subjects do. You took the throne from my father, what respect do you expect from me, a bow? Or maybe prostrating before an impotent king?” This one insulted him; King Nzekwe angrily ran towards him to slap him, but the agile warrior held him on both hands, and pushed him away forcefully he fell and broke his neck! This all happened too fast for the guards to protect.
They tried to recover him, but before their very eyes, he gave up the ghost. Ikeagu quickly readied himself against the guards. But he looked at them and saw they obviously were afraid of him. He left them, still looking out for a possible attack.
When Dimgba and the other chiefs got to the palace and saw the King dead, they pretended to be sorrowful. Akadia who had been weeping uncontrollably, was calling for justice. She has now become a loser of everything she had worked for. And the worse, her husband is no more.
“Umuagu has lost its light”. Dimgba said.
“He must die. Dimgba you have to summon the kings and elders from the neighboring villages. He will not escape this; he must die or be exiled!” Akadia cried.
“No, he will not be exiled; neither will we call the kings and elders of our neighboring villages. Ikeagu will not be executed; your business with this palace ends here. You should have known that the grave-digger will be given his own grave the day that placatory business for death disgust death.” Dimgba told her.
She stood up in amazement and disappointment; she then saw that the world is too big to be owned by anyone. She went towards Obinna, believing he could help; “What will you do for your friend, Obinna?” she asked with tears still emanating profusely from her eyes.
“You heard Dimgba! There is nothing that time cannot take from us.” He said.
She whispered: “Betrayed is the sharpest knife,” then she turned and began walking away from them. “You guards take the dead into the forgotten forest of Umuagu and bury it.” Dimgba commanded.
“But let us give him a royal burial.” Obinna suggested. “If you still pity that corpse, we could help you joined its road. That was where Omenike was buried, let him be buried there too, maybe they could fight down to hell.” Dimgba told him.
“What do we do now no one sits on the throne?” Ajulu asked Dimgba.
“It will be abominable to the people and our neighbors if we crown the man who killed his king. No people think of such.” Mazi supported.
“We only have one heir to the throne left. We cannot leave the royal line to strangers. We must not let the people know Ikeagu did this. He now has too much trouble on his hands; maybe we are free from his knife now. We have to persuade him to take that throne, or else we may end up like one of those lost villages placed by forest.” Dimgba answered.
“But when the people demand for the king’s killer, what should we tell them?” Obinna asked him.
“Tell them Akadia killed him by poisoning his food. Take those plates and the leftovers as evidence. They will believe you.”
“How sure are you, Dimgba?”
“Ajulu these people ask questions and don’t fight for answers. The last of them who asked questions is now in trouble for killing his king. We could hold him with this, and make him listen to us.” He told them as they left the palace.
About 2:00am the following day, Nnenna was very cold because the hut was hidden in the forest. She had thought of escaping the previous night, but the guards kept mumbling at intervals. So she saw the risk as a bad one.
They only gave her fruits to eat before midnight. Then she had somebody’s footsteps coming towards her, it wasn’t sounding so heavy like a man’s own, so she expected nothing terrible. “I know you must be hungry now.” A soft voice spoke to her.
“Who are you?” she asked. “The visitor did not speak until she was done crying.
“I am Akadia.” She said as Nnenna’s cold left her. She regained consciousness and wandered why she had come. “Why have you come, to kill me?” she asked.
“Far from it. I have come to help you leave here.” Akadia said.
“Help me leave here? I know you don’t give anything for free, your help means death, and this is what I believe about you.” Nnenna told her.
“If you prefer dying here, then I will leave.” She stood up to go …
“Wait, continue”. Nnenna said.
“When I release you, don’t look back until you reach Ikeagu’s hut. But you have to leave with a message for him.”
“How his father was killed and those who killed him. Dimgba started the plan to kill Omenike. Then he told the other chiefs about his plan, and they loved it, because Omenike was not easy to control, and besides Dimgba has a plan only God knows.
They told me Nzekwe would become the next king, and being the selfish woman I was, I joined the plan. That night Omenike was killed, Obidia got the message from her mind and ran away with Ikeagu. That maid was killed. Omenike was strong, but his guards where the ones who killed him. And we succeeded because he trusted his guards so much. My husband Nzekwe never knew of the plan, so I purposely told him to go on a visit, so our plans could work. If he had been around, he would have fought for his brother. I will not say more, because I have ruined my life. A good man is worth protecting you know. When you see Ikeagu, tell him Nzekwe was innocent; he refused us going to find Ikeagu and his mother to make sure they were dead! He sat on that throne for his brother!” she revealed as she began crying again. Nnenna who was stunned could not believe.
“What has happened to king Nzekwe?” Nnenna asked.
“Ikeagu killed him yesterday. I believe he did it for revenge. He did not Know he was innocent … you have to start going now, it will soon be dark.”
” What of the guards?” Nnenna asked still thinking of the risk.
“I will try and distract them by taking them away from the door of the hut. Then you should try and see when it’s possible for you. Run with good speed! Do you understand?”
“Yes,” Nnenna answered, though her heart began beating fast that she could almost hear it. Akadia went outside the hut and began discussing with the men.
“You both should come.” She told them as she began walking away from the hut.
“But the lady could escape.” One of them told her. “She should be asleep by now after I slapped her several times. Trust me; she believes there are so many of you out here. She will not dare leave the hut.” Akadia said to deceive them away from the hut.
The guards believed her and followed her toward a distance. Nnenna peeped and saw they were not close, and then she ran out with the best speed she could give. But one of the guards who believe this could be risky decided to go back, while the other stay with Akadia.
“Where are you going?” Akadia asked him.
“This is dangerous for us, Dimgba warned us of the consequences of went ran to check the hut.
He screamed like a tiger shot with an arrow and shouted “she is gone… she is gone!” he ran out of the hut and wandered where she headed for. May be she is on her way to the Warrior’s hut, he taught and took the road toward Ikeagu’s hut.
The other guard suspected Akadia. They had been ignorant of all that happened in the palace the previous day. And that she was no longer in authority. “You deceived us! You knew she would escape… you knew it. Then, if he does not find her, may be Akadia the queen will be declared missing.” He said with so much exasperation and seized her. Akadia tried to resist being pushed into the hut, but he overpowered her and made sure she was in.
“I have nothing to lose now… everything has been taken from me!” she screamed in frustration. But her joy is that Nnenna carries the truth, she prayed that guard never stopped that truth.
Ikeagu was sitting outside his hut; his knife and shield were very close to him. Nweze’s words had made him sleepless: don’t kill a man and his innocence. Those words kept haunting him!
But he kept encouraging himself by believing Nzekwe was guilty of his father’s death. His hands were not clean, after all it was a mistake, he thought. As he kept pondering, Nnenna who couldn’t run anymore. Manage to trudge towards him.She couldn’t talk, but pointed her finger towards the road where she came from, indicating someone was coming after her.
“Who comes into the lion’s den to drink water? Come meet Ikeagu and let me wash my knife with blood.” He boasted as he held her on his left hand, waiting for any attack. When he waited and saw that no one came, he carried her into the hut, and returned outside as quickly as he could. He stood outside his hut murmuring curses on Nnenna’s pursuers.
Dimgba got news of Nnenna’s escape and Akadia’s visit. What he feared so greatly had happen. He knew anytime soon, Ikeagu could be coming for all of them, so he ordered that Akadia be killed, while he left his house for the palace. “I have finally made my ancestors proud in their graves,” he soliloquized as he headed for the palace.The morning was still dark as the rain threatened to fall heavily. Nnenna was now a little lively, she told Ikeagu all Akadia told her. He was heart broken when he was told of Nzekwe’s innocence. This is what he feared most!
Ikeagu took his knife and staff and went outside his hut. “Where are you going?” Nnenna asked him. He brought out his knife from his sheath and left. Nnenna stood looking at him; she knew no one could stop him now, not even she could do anything about the decision on his heart.