The whole village was shaken and they turned as one to an equally shaken king who had to gather his scattered wits to once more don the heavy mantle of leadership. It is true what they say ‘Uneasy lays the head that wears the crown’. Erinmade had to put aside his own feelings as a bereaved father and husband of grieving women to become the king with answers to his people’s questions.
He summoned all the wise men and women, witches and wizards, sorcerers and necromancers in Ajilenko and environs.
The spirit call was sent by the Ori Awo of Ajilenko and passed on by the winds to all the four corners of the neighboring villages and they responded.
From the north and south, east and west, they came. These powerful men and women who bestrode the spiritual world and communed directly with the gods. They answered the call for help.
Their parade into the bereaved village was a walk that inspired confidence and restored the flagging hope of the villagers that they would at least have answers why this catastrophe had befallen them.
The villagers stood in front of their homes and watched a sight they never would have imagined. Witches wrapped in black with birds perched on their shoulders; wizards with turtles mounted on their heads; sorcerers hovering in the air; ancient men and women stooped over walking sticks, quavering with barely repressed spirit-powers running through their aged frames made their way through the village to the palace.
Keeping a cautious distance, the villagers followed behind these fearsome visitors, whispering in hushed tones.
The king was already on his seat in the palace grounds with his advisors and the village elders gathered round him. It was a somber gathering and on one made any attempt to disturb the mood.
The august visitors walked up to the king and paid their royal homage which he returned with respect.
“Can you tell me why this disaster has befallen us in Ajilenko? Is man or god responsible?” Erinmade asked
One of the witches immediately burst into a thrilling and started swaying to the carrying melody of the high pitched sound. All the others immediately closed round her and reached out to touch parts of her wrapper or body. The sounds emanating from her throat rose and fell in no definite rhythm and her body jerked spasmodically in harmony.
This went on for a few more minutes then petered out in a lowering wail. The wall of bodies around her immediately opened and as one, they turned to face the king. The looks on their face was even more somber than earlier and the villagers felt their fears mounting at the sight.
The Ori Awo of Ajilenko approached the king.
“What is it?” Erinmade asked
The Ori Awo inclined his head respectfully, “Can we see you alone, Kabiyesi?”
Oba Erinmade peered searchingly into the old faded eyes. Something in their depths must have convinced him to heed the request because he stood up without a word and led the way into the palace. His guard made to follow him but a curt order from the Ori Awo had him hesitating and a nod from his master bade him return to his position behind the throne. The spiritual visitors fell into line behind the king and they all disappeared into the palace, leaving the villagers and the village heads to stare at each other in confusion and worry.
In the long wait, their patience peaked to impatience and there was much shuffling of feet but none left. Just as the sun reached its peak and the heat rose off the grounds in sweltering waves, the group emerged from the palace with a now haggard looking king in tow.
Oba Erinmade stood before the people and announced, “Sacrifices will be offered to the gods to appease them and the evil upon our land will be lifted. Everybody is to obey and assist the Egbe Awo in their quest”. He turned and reentered the palace abruptly.
The villagers stood in confused indecision at this peremptory announcement that still left so many questions unanswered. But as even the spiritual intermediaries did not seem inclined to answer any questions, the people of Ajilenko gradually began to disperse in twos and threes wondering what had happened behind the closed doors of the palace.
It would take another disaster to answer their questions. But before then, over the next few days the land of Ajilenko witnessed sacrifices on a scale that defied the mind.
Clothes, animals, foodstuff were brought to the sorcerers in the palace grounds where they had taken up temporary residence.
During the day, the items were gathered and at night the fires and smoke of the offerings could be seen rising into the night skies.
The inhabitants of the palace were also not left out. United in their collective grief, both royalty and slave brought their abundant offerings to the necromancers.
Adunni was a daily caller at the palace grounds because in her heart she harbored the belief that the attack was aimed specifically at Omoboja to prevent her from enjoying her home with the king. She believed the death of all the other sons in the village was just fallout of the attack, despite losing thirteen other grandsons herself!
She had discussed this with her husband and both of them were in agreement but decided to keep the matter between only the two of them. However they saw nothing wrong in asking the herbalists and wise men for extra protection for their daughter. This made Adunni a frequent sight in the palace grounds and she could be seen moving from one sorcerer to the other for special prayers and sacrifices.
The only person who kept a studied distance from the spiritualists was Oba Erinmade and while all wondered, no one voiced out any question.
At the end of seven days, the sacrifices were done and the whole village gathered for cleansing at the edge of the river behind the village. The cleansing took the whole day but at the end, everyone returned home with a sense of security that whatever had been responsible for the death of their sons had been appeased and they could now dwell in safety that such would never happen again. How wrong they were!
The day after the cleansing, the spiritualists left the village of Ajilenko laden with gifts from a grateful people.
Time came to the village with its healing arms and life soon resumed its normalcy. It wasn’t long before pregnant women began to deliver and the arrivals of sons were greeted with joy and thanksgiving to the gods. Other women took seed and the sounds of both male and female children returned to the village.