Uli slumped on the ground as she came upon where her son was buried. She cried until there were no tears left in her glands, and she turned to her husband and asked him when he was buried.
“When was he…?”
“Immediately after he died,” Ishii was pained to see his wife in this condition. He remembered the medicine man’s words, and tears dropped from his eyes. “What is this?”
Uli looked at him.
“Why can’t the gods heal my wife once and for all? She is not supposed to suffer.” Ishii said.
Uli looked back at the grave and placed her head on it. Her tears fell, and she heard the sound of her name.
Uli looked up. Nkem was standing with outstretched arms; he beckoned to her to come, smiling and urging her on. His smile soon disappeared as a bird appeared. Its loud squawk sounded as though it was real; Uli heard it and cried in pain.
“What is it?” Ishii asked.
Uli ignored him and ran in the direction of the sound; Nkem had disappeared, and she slumped; she dug her hands into the sand; her fingers filled with the particle—Ishii saw this and rushed towards her, scolded her, and asked her to stand.
“I cannot stand, Nkem,”
Ishii forced her up. “You need to stop this, Uli. Our son is dead for crying out loud!”
Uli forbade. She had seen her son just there. How possible was it that he was dead? “No, our son cannot be dead!”
Ishii sighed. “You have to accept the truth, Uli,” he said without blinking. “Come, let us go.”
Uli refused. She insisted that she stayed until her son reappeared, as Ishii dragged her in, and had her to a good meal before she slept off.
Nighttime reached and Ishii worried about his wife still being asleep. He went to their room and met her in the same position he had left her. Shaking her, he noticed she was cold, stiff as a log. He called her many times but she didn’t answer, as a loud wail left his lips. “Uli!!”
Uli was gone. Another tragedy had struck!
Ishii mourned his wife and swore to confront the King. He remembered the medicine man once more, and he made up his mind to go to the King.
“What brings you here, Ichie?”
“I am not here for talks!”
The talks he meant were playful remarks. He was there on a serious note and wore an expression, even the King was lost—
“I am lost for words, Ichie Ishii. What’s with the look?”
Ishii glared at him. He made to start as one of the King’s guards rushed in. He whispered into his ear, and the King sprang up, leaving Ishii to himself.[/i] “What do you mean the men have escaped?” the King hastened his steps. The Princess rushed towards him in a worried state. “Father, what is it?”
The King answered, “Those good-for-nothings have escaped! Have you seen them?”
“No father,” the Princess lied. “Perhaps the guards’ carelessness have…”
“The guards did nothing!” one of the guards thundered. “I recall seeing you before the men escaped,”
All eyes were on the guard that spoke. Ikenna was his name. He revealed how he had seen the Princess around the walls before the ‘escape’ bell rang.
“Father, he is lying!”
King Oghala turned to the boy. “Is that true?”
“Yes, Your Highness,” Ikenna said.
King Oghala turned to the Princess and asked her to look him in the eye. “Fetch my sword!” he said without blinking. The weapon was brought and he clasped the hilt, raising it—he brought his hand down in a bid to strike, as a bright light shone—and a voice bellowed.
“Stop! You cannot harm her!”
The King lowered his sword. He groaned as he did; squinting in the light, he drew closer, recognizing his wife’s face. “Apuna?”
“The blood of one rests in your hands. Have another…” the light disappeared.
The King did not understand what she meant by the last. He shrugged his shoulders and grunted as he raised his sword. Swash—he went blind at that instant, and he shouted and fell to the ground.
Uduje had a blind man for a King. Strange things were happening in the village, and everyone tagged it to be the King’s works.
“You will not believe what I heard yesterday,” Gossips who walked Uduje, crowded at a corner, to tell what was happening around.
“What did you hear?”
“They said a woman appeared to the King!”
“How did you know?”
“Oh, I heard. I even heard they imprisoned the men,” the one clothed in rags, spoke in whispers.
“The White men!” He exclaimed. “The White men who preached to us, or have you forgotten?”
“Oh.” Everyone’s mouth was curved.
“You mean to tell us they were imprisoned?” A woman asked, akimbo.
“Yes!” The man affirmed. He lowered his voice even more: “I also heard that one of them was killed and thrown into the river…”
The people exclaimed. “When?!”
“No wonder why the land has been cursed,” another man in their midst said with arms folded.
Another woman, having a wrapper tied around her waist, and a red scarf covering her head chipped in. “The land has been cursed, no doubt. Udene we hardly see, now appear on every ground.”
The people affirmed. “We must march to the palace!” said one.
“And do what?” asked another.
“The Kingdom is no longer safe! We need to do something.”
The people chorused. “Yes!”
“We shall free the White men when dusk comes. Only them can save us.”
“But what about the guards?” asked a scared lady.
“We shall slaughter them if need be!”
“Idume…” a haggard-looking man emerged from nowhere.
“What about him?”
The man marched forward. “Idume is yet to say something. Why hasn’t he talked?”
An old man in their midst hushed. “Do not mention the Chief Priest in that sort!”
Everyone looked at him. They asked him why he had said so, but he laughed and walked out.