PRINCESS AMARACHI Episode 10 by Okafor Erasmus Ugochukwu
Getting to the location of the village announcer, the middle-aged man called Ogene Ike (the strong metal gong) on sighting the group of warriors took to his heels shouting “Abiala hooo (they have come oo)” but Amarachi called him back, letting him know that she is the princess of Ubulu and wasn’t missing as he was announcing.
Ogene Ike who was hiding behind the Ugiri tree slowly came out and peeped. He then took a deep breath and greeted the princess traditionally with genuflection, “My princess, I greet you,”
“Rise,” Amarachi said and tried pulling him up but two among the warriors helped her out, “continue with the announcement but this time, tell the people that the princess is back and not missing. Also, tell them that he who dances surugede doesn’t know that it’s the dance of the spirit. Just leave it at that. No need explaining the meaning to you. Of course, you know it already but may not understand the context you’re using it for,”
“The fact that a man is drowning in the middle of the sea doesn’t mean he’d call crocodile his father,” Ogene said and sounded his gong aloud, and then resumed his duty of announcement while the princess and others went back to the palace.
As the voice of Ogene Ike died down in distance as he left, the palace guards were seen coming to rescue the queen. When they came closer, seeing that the princess seemed unperturbed, they knew that she was safe, and then sheathed their weapons.
Getting to the palace, Mkpulumma was seen sauntering and feeling restive as she fidgeted but on sighting Amarachi, she rushed at her and embraced her.
“Where have you been, nwam?” she asked pulsating seriously with fears possessing her completely.
“I am safe, and like I said,” the princess said cuddling her mom, “I must find my dad, and in the process. No one should be bothered about me until I achieve this result,”
Observing the princess and seeing the warriors all lying prostrate on the ground, Mkpulumma shuddered, shook her head and said: “You can’t stop amazing me,”
“We thought that we have more enemies without knowing that many are still allies to the true throne of Ubulu,” Amy said and looked at the warriors, “the head is Otaisimbe, then the second in command is Aju Une, and then the one from Ugosimba lineage is…”
“Did you say Ugosimba?” The Queen-mother interrupted, with more interest in the warrior from Ugosimba linage, “who amongst them please?” she asked looking searchingly to detect who among the warriors comes from the lineage.
Still lying prostrate and not being able to look at the face of the queen because he wasn’t ordered to do so yet, Oduenyi remained on the ground until the princess beckoned him forward, so he raised his head and came forward.
“This is Oduenyi, from the lineage of Ugosimba,” Amy introduced.
The queen was so happy and rushed at him, embraced him and even tried to bow before him but Amy stopped her.
“Mom, he’s just a warrior,” Amarachi reminded her, “and you should remember that you’re the queen mother,”
The queen was still in shock because she was so bemused and perplexed with her mouth agape. She kept holding Oduenyi firmly while the young man even remained calm and confused but waiting for the queen to say more so that he could play catch up because he was lost.
“Mom, is there something you’re not telling us?” Chisimdi said as she entered wearing her nightgown, “I could remember vividly that you told Amy and me that Ugosimba (eagle that arrived from another nation) was the protector of the dynasty, the king, and everything royal in this kingdom. Tell us more because we’re eager to know,”
Amarachi was impressed with Chisimdi’s apt quote of the queen mother.
“Yes, mom,” Amarachi concurred, “Mom, you said that in the mindreading method, Ugosimba can be summoned and consulted, and that’s why the king uses the Braille method to communicate with him and seek his protection as the last resort,”
“But with consequences, if the person isn’t the king,” Chisimdi added.
‘Oh, how can it be?’ Olaedo who was listening from a few yards away thought, ‘since I used the method, nothing has happened to me. I guess these may not be true because I’m not the king nor with royal blood. I guess the gods spared me this time,’
“Please, where is my husband?” The queen asked looking at Oduenyi’s eyes searchingly as if the king would be found in his iris, “you must have a clue, except you don’t want to tell us,”
Oduenyi was still confused because he knew nothing about what Mkpulumma was talking about except for the fact that he was from Ugosimba lineage and was on a mission to finding the king.
As Oduenyi was thinking deeply trying to know if he could connect any dot or remember any past, he then remembered that he’d been so keen on finding the king, hence the need to defer his admission just to come down to help in search of the missing king. At this point, it became obvious to him that it wasn’t just a natural call but a supernatural one that brought him home since Ugosimba is the protector of the dynasty and he was from the same lineage.
“Send me my king;” Oduenyi said and genuflected before the queen, “I’m here to serve you, to protect the kingdom, and to protect the king, even though we don’t know where he is. I am ready to serve. Give me your blessings,”
The queen pulled him up and said: “You can’t seek blessings from us but we’d seek blessings from you because you’re a great man but it seems everything has been swept under the carpet of modernization. Who is your father, your grandfather, and where are you from?”
That question became so hard for Oduenyi to answer because he knew nothing about his parentage. All he knew was that he was raised by a single dad who happens to be late.
“I don’t know who I am, except for the fact that I was told that I came from the lineage of Ugosimba,” Oduenyi replied, “I was in University of Ibadan but I hardly sleep at night because of the condition of the kingdom, that’s why I decided to pause my academics and come home to join the warriors,”
As Oduenyi was speaking, sudden lightning flashed followed by the rumbling of the thunder in the clouds. It was strange because it was a dry season and there shouldn’t be anything like a thunderclap, so the people shuddered.
“What is this?” The queen mother asked and looked into the sky, “This is a sign, an omen. It happened last when I was a kid. That was when an innocent child was buried alive. The thunder visited in the dry season, went straight To the grave and exhumed the child unharmed,”
“This is serious,” Chisimdi murmured.
“Guards!” Mkpulumma hollered, making the palace guards gather.
“Let’s make use of the warriors and not palace guards,” Amarachi suggested, “let the palace guards remain here to guard the palace while the Oganihu Eze warriors take charge of this assignment,”
Mkpulumma was surprised at this point, so she looked confusingly at Amarachi seeking an explanation for hearing the strange name.
“Can you start talking, twiney?” Chisimdi urged Amarachi looking confused too.
“Yes, these warriors are drawn from different villages and clans,” Amy explained, “They formed this group to help Find- king Omekannaya. They were the ones that found me when I was in search of Anyamuo,”
“The oldest man?” Mkpulumma said looking surprised, “how did you know about him?”
“I was hinted by a little bird,” Amarachi replied proudly.
“Is he still alive?” Mkpulumma asked looking surprised, “My husband used to visit him at his hut many years back. He knows a lot but I wonder why I never thought about him since I came back,”
“Well, let’s say that a lot has happened, and the thoughts blotted out by the quest to see your darling husband once again after many years,” Chisimdi said and held her mom for comfort, “I think you need rest and…”
“No, I don’t,” Mkpulumma entered vehemently, “this is a wakeup call for me,” she added panting with zealousness and anger, “and I must answer the call,”
“That sounds like the woman of valour,” Amarachi said with pride, “Let’s seek for the king,”
“No, you don’t need to seek for him,” Oduenyi said with his eyes closed and his face glowing like the lightning, “the king is safe wherever he is but he is in mental chains and emotional weakness to the point that his prayers to God aren’t being answered wherever he is,”
The people were surprised seeing Oduenyi as if he was transmogrified. Even the warriors who were his counterparts were afraid of him at this time, so they distanced themselves as they observed his strange glowing looks.
“Shhhh,” Mkpulumma shushed Amarachi, “he doesn’t need to be distracted at this point, please,”
Amy nodded in agreement as they listened attentively to the divination from Oduenyi.
“Akilika ndi muo and the flutist are safe too. No one captured because the hands of God are on them but they disappeared to the land they can’t even find their way back,” Oduenyi said as he uttered some abracadabra; with his eyes still shut and his fingers moving rapidly as if he was groping for something. “We need the attention of the descendants of Ajalindu if the king must come back alive. The Isioma leaf at the pathway to Eke Ubulu stream has a purpose and it’s for the revival of the king but it’s useless if no descendant of Ajalindu remains or nowhere to be found. Ugosimba has spoken,”
After saying this, Oduenyi fell on the floor and began to shake convulsively.
The people were afraid especially the ladies because they thought he was dying but Mkpulumma instructed that no one should touch him.
After a while, Oduenyi became as cold as ice, cool and calm but remained lifeless. After a couple of minutes, he sneezed and opened his eyes.
“Now, you can help him up,” The queen ordered, making Otaisimbe and Ofiakuwnti go and help him up but Oduenyi resisted and got up without their help.
“What happened here, please?” Oduenyi asked looking confused at them one after the other, “did I pass out? Why am I weak? What happened please?”
“Ugosimba happened,” Mkpulumma answered straightforwardly, “thanks for the information you just passed across,”
“I now know why the thunderstorm visited;” Amarachi said observantly and smiled; “now I know why mom wanted to bow for you. You just assumed your office, and your help would be great in finding the missing king. At least we now know that king Omekannaya is alive but needs our help,”
“I think you need rest,” Chisimdi said and went to the handsome diviner, held him and took him into one of the chambers.
Mkpulumma and Amy were surprised because the last time they checked, Chisimdi never cared about strangers. It was surprising but they never talked because the guy in question just became an asset to the kingdom; hence, the need to protect him jealously.
“I don’t think the search for the location that the thunder visited is still necessary,” Mkpulumma said to the warriors, “You guys must have organised yourselves and know what to do in helping out in protecting the kingdom; especially my daughter Amarachi who’s like the sheep among wolves,”
“A sheep with defensive claws,” Amy added with smiles, “I won’t be easily devoured by enemies because my spirit is even stronger than the spirit of many enemies clustering maliciously,”
“I love the courage,” Dave said admirably and pulled Amy into a hug, “mom, I think that princess Amarachi needs to see my dad, and that was why I came but got caught up by the search of the missing dad,”
Looking at Dave fondly, Mkpulumma smiled. She didn’t say anything but her smile was sufficient for approval of Dave’s request.
“I need to meet Ugosimba because a lot of work is needed,” The queen mother said and tried to go but Onyedika came forward; hinting that he needed to talk to her, “what is it, my son?” she asked and looked intently at Onyedika, “weren’t you the prisoner that was being tortured yesterday in the cell?”
“Yes, I was,” Onyedika answered humbly knitting his brow, “My father is Chief Innocent, the close ally to the king but I’m sorry to say that the name doesn’t fit him because there is no innocence in him but guilt,”
Mkpulumma’s attention was drawn to the last statement. She looked thoughtfully at Onyedika and then came closer to him. “I know your dad,” she said and smiled faintly, “he was a close friend to the king, even the one who was the witness and sponsor on our wedding day. But I’m surprised that since I came back to the kingdom, I haven’t seen him or even remembered to seek for him,”
“It is better you didn’t, Ugoeze (the honour of the king)” Onyedika said, “He’s a bad man and a strong member of Ozo bu Iwem group,”
“I don’t get it,” The queen mother said looking confused, “which group is Ozo…”
“Ozo bu Iwem is the group that ousted and defeated the Okwatulueze group.” Amarachi cut in.
“Isn’t that supposed to be good news?” Mkpulumma asked looking a bit relieved.
“It is not. The reason is that they are deadlier and fully interested in the throne, ready to take over by hook or crook,” Amarachi replied swiftly, “There are many stories behind all these, but suffice it to say that Onyedika’s dad just mentioned is among the leaders of that secret group, and they are hardly known except their children who know them. It’s so secretive that even if you’re the child of one of the secret group members, you can only know your dad and won’t know any other person in the group. So you see that we need to be more careful,”
Mkpulumma became afraid at this point because she never expected to hear that there was another group. She thought she was dealing with Okwatulueze without knowing that there was a stronger group that should be dreaded.
“Who are we to trust again?” Mkpulumma asked rhetorically looking confused, “can someone help me out?”
“That’s why Oganihu Eze group is here,” Otaisimbe yelled while warriors echoed the same; with their fingers in their ears, nodding twice, “we’re here to use the last drop of blood in us to see that the kingdom returns back to normalcy. Try us and see what we can do!” Otaisimbe yelled while others replied: “Awua…awua…awuaaaaaaa,”
“To your duty posts, everyone!” Aju Une shouted, making the entire warriors take their positions; both in the palace and the streets.
Amarachi took Dave and Onyedika to the visitor’s apartment while Adaoma left the palace immediately trying to avoid seeing Olaedo her daughter. She was full of guilt and pains but never knew how to confront her daughter without revealing the truth to her.
She needed to be away and have time to think through her past and know how to handle the painful death that she was waiting for.
One getting to her chamber, Amarachi saw Olaedo who was diligently cleaning her room. She felt like embracing her and telling her that she is a princess but remembering that Adaoma didn’t want her daughter to know that her mistake in reading the book of the kings was the reason why she was dying, she kept calm; with lots of thoughts, she pondered inside of her.
Sitting down on the bed, she was absently looking while Olaedo tried to make her feel cheered but she never succeeded.
Olaedo loves Amarachi so much that she could do anything to help but she discovered that Amy’s mood that morning was just too gloomy and unapproachable. After a while, she slowly came and sat beside Amarachi on the bed. She wanted to start a talk but didn’t know if Amy would scold her or order her to leave, so she kept calm and continued thinking of how to start.
There was grave silence between them while the voices of Chisimdi and Oduenyi were heard muttering in the other room.
“My princess, I’m confused right now,” Olaedo finally muttered after the long silence, “I’m not just confused but worried,”
The last part of her speech got Amarachi worried too because she was still entertaining some fears inside of her concerning the issue of the king’s return and how to revive him by Ajalindu descendant; the same people who were banished from the land that no one could trace them.
“I think I’m worried too,” Amarachi responded as she heaved a sigh, “how can the king be brought back to life even if he’s found? Can we bring back a lifeless king to the palace without a solution to bring her back from where he is trapped?”
“From history,” Olaedo said sonorously, “when it was discovered that Ajalindu used the Isioma sweet-scented flower to revive Obiadada from Amesi kingdom, they were all banished from…”
“I know everything, including how Achikolo of Ubulu was later killed by Obiadada who took over kingship by force but later died by the hands of the gods,” Amy said but still confused, because, the history held no solution to bringing back the lost king.
Olaedo was so restive and crying, the first time of shedding tears before Amarachi. “I love the king like a daughter would for a dad but now he’s nowhere to be found. He took me as his daughter and made me feel loved. Now, the man with a good heart is gone and his whereabouts enshrouded in mystery,”
Amarachi knew that blood was speaking inside of Olaedo because it wasn’t just a normal feeling of love but the blood of the king flowing inside the maidservant that was clamouring for bonding.
Amarachi pulled her closer and made her feel comforted.
Olaedo was surprised because she knew that Amy would always scold her or tell her to leave but was surprised that she held a common maid just like blood. At first, she was afraid and unrelaxed but as the hug lasted she snuggled in Amy’s bosom and remained there wishing that the world would just remain the way it was.
“My dad would be found, but how are we to go about looking for the descendants of Ajalindu who have scattered in the entire world?” Amarachi asked looking absently on the sofa adjacent to him, “And there is nowhere it’s written in the history of Ubulu that the Ajalindus settled in a particular village. The history stopped covering them when they were banished out of anger for putting Ubulu in great pains by the loss of Achikolo and the slavery that ensued after that,”
“We have the cure that would revive the king growing and scattering all over the pathway to the stream but the flowers are useless if we don’t find even one of Ajalindu descendants that would make it effective,” Olaedo clued.
“But I think we should focus on finding the king first,” Amarachi said, “let’s catch the deer first before we talk of how it would be roasted and shared,” she added proverbially.
“You’re right, my princess,” Olaedo said and remained in her bosom while Amy stroked her hair gently.
“Everyone is a princess in her little way,” Amarachi said, making Olaedo happy; feeling elated, even though she didn’t know why Amy said so.
PRINCESS AMARACHI episode 10