It was in the morning when the sun was still sitting in the east, three men – Augusta, Caryl and Leonatus saw glints of light coming from a coin en route to France. The gold coin was reflecting the light coming from the sun. As they came closer to pick the coin, they saw another, few steps away. This time as they tried to pick the second coin, they saw Zadie lying unconsciously in a pit.
Zadie was carried into their caravan and they rode off to Gaul. Zadie woke up in the middle of the sea (English Channel) with a loss of memory. He remembered nothing about his home so he joined his new Frankish (French) friends and sailed to the land of the Franks, south of Gaul (Francia), in a new life – a life of robbery, for the three men were living as thieves.
“Welcome to Gaul!” a voice piped at the port. Zadie discovered that it was an amazing life among the Franks. Everyone was vibrant and enthusiastic; busy doing something or the other or even busy doing nothing. He knew this was a place he could fool so many, thus he smiled and rose to his duty.
Zadie and his new friends went from place to place, shop to shop, stealing. They stole whenever the owner was careless of his properties or by pranks on people. It was in this process of stealing that they saw a young boy being pursued by some soldiers on duty. As the young boy ran, he ran closer to Zadie’s feet and fell. Zadie stooped to hear what the boy had to say, only to receive a gift from the boy. The boy fled again as the soldiers came nearer.
“What did that boy give to you?” a soldier returned to ask Zadie after the young boy pitifully committed suicide.
“Gave me? He gave me nothing. He was mere begging for water but discovered it was fruitless since you people were already close,” Zadie spoke cunningly.
“He’s lying, search him!” the soldier piped.
“See, let me tell you people something. Have you ever seen someone with a hunch back like me? It’s because people like me don’t come outside for we are contagious. If you really want to search me then you should be ready to share my hunch back, my scary wrinkled skin and whatever sickness that I have kept secret. You should be ready to contact all that,” Zadie spoke convincingly and was able to scare away the soldier without searching him.
Zadie later found out with his friends that the gift was a magic ring – the missing ring of the great French witch.
“It was the guards of the king of Gaul that pursued that young boy which means that the king of Gaul must seriously be in need of this magic ring,” Zadie thought of this to assess the value of the ring, as a result of this, he barred his friends from touching the ring but only to himself alone.
Three days later, Zadie was on the hunt again. The same people that were chasing the young boy were the ones hunting for Zadie but Zadie and his friends were nowhere to be found. Cleverly, Zadie and his friends came to the shrine of the great French witch with the intention of returning the ring but for something in exchange. Zadie spoke to the witch and promised to give her back her ring which was her magic tool and her sight, only if she will bless them with wealth, power and get rid of Zadie’s hunch back.
“Your wishes are now yours, forever. Please give it to me now,” the witch spoke in lassitude. She has long been searching for the ring with the help of her friend, the king of Gaul, but to no avail.
“What guarantee do I have that if I give you this ring, my wishes will be mine, forever?” Zadie uttered smartly.
“That plant beside you is the only guarantee I can give you. It will save you from danger once in your lifetime besides I don’t give guarantees because I’m a woman of my words – the most powerful in the whole of the Roman Empire.”
Zadie threw the ring while the witch eulogized over herself and fled with the plant. He paused while his friends had already started running to listen to some words of incantation the French witch uttered as she searched for the ring. Zadie was smarter than everyone. He gave the French witch the fake ring and fled with her blessings, the plant and the words on incantation that only made the ring work.
Zadie was now a different man – a rich man with no more hunch back. He can now walk upright like every other person and run much faster in times of trouble. The news spread everywhere that Zadie outsmarted and ripped off the French witch and ran with many blessings. This infuriated the king of Gaul greatly and as a result of this, he triggered a great hunt on Zadie.
So many times Zadie and his friends were nearly caught, so many times, they always escaped all by the power of the magic ring. Unfortunately, Zadie’s friends were caught in an ambush and were taken to the king’s palace, where they were tied. The king sent a message to Zadie that if he doesn’t return the ring, his friends will die. Zadie ignored that, rather he came by himself to rescue his friends with the help of the ring.
In the process of rescuing his friends he became dumbfounded at the sight of the princess – Britannia. He stood firm and kept on reminiscing on where and how he must have known that princess. Simultaneously, his friends whom were a bit further away were barking at Zadie to come and rescue them, while on the other hand, soldiers started surrounding Zadie. As soon as he woke up from reminiscence he realized it was too late to save his friends, thus he disappeared with the help of the magic ring.
Princess Britannia was shocked as she saw Zadie again in her life. She thought Zadie had died long ago and the Zadie that was talked about in Gaul was a different person. She became afraid again because she was aware of Zadie’s capabilities. She told her husband the Prince of Gaul to do everything possible that can get rid of Zadie or else she will leave Gaul back to Ireland.
Zadie became furious again as he remembered his past. He remembered vividly the three old witches and how he was betrayed. He also became more furious when he heard that his friends have been killed, so he swore to get back his wife, the princess and to ruin the lives of the king of Gaul and his son by all means possible.
It was in the citadel of the Roman Empire, the palace of the Emperor Publius Aelius Hadrianus that Zadie conceived his plot. People all around the world gathered in Rome to welcome the Emperor into his palace and as the Emperor stood on his befitting caravan with his entourage waving his palms to all the patriots of the empire, he got tensed at the sight of a terrifying sword that swung up in the air from the crowd, very fast towards him. It was the scimitar of the prince of Gaul, the finest sword in the Roman Empire. It came very fast towards him and unfortunately as he dodged the sword, it pierced into his thigh. The sword caught him and everyone by surprise and the ‘sniper’ escaped unseen.
This infuriated the emperor, so he ordered 2 full legions of soldiers to ride straight to Gaul to the king’s palace and destroy everything in the palace while arresting the king and the prince. Ten thousand soldiers rode on chariots and horses to Gaul in anger and did as the emperor ordered.
It was Zadie’s entire plan in a clandestine conspiracy with the emperor. The emperor gave Zadie back his wife in return for the great magic ring. Zadie got thrilled and surprised on how the whole plan became successful. The prince and king of Gaul were put to jail for conspiracy to murder.
However, that thrill soon became overwhelmed by a grimace when Zadie realized that he was being arrested by the same emperor. The emperor made it clear to Zadie that he had a promise to his father and predecessor, Marcus Ulpius Traianus to wipe away all the witches and wizards in the empire and any king or prince that condones them. He saw them as enemies that could jeopardize his empire, which was the reason he agreed to conspire in Zadie’s plan. Zadie was amazed when he saw Benjamin right in front of him. He was saved by the emperor in the hands of the late three witches of Ireland.
Thereafter, Zadie was tied all around his neck to be hung. He was made to say his last prayer before he would be killed by hanging but Zadie still proved that he was smarter than all of them even without his hunch back. He brought out the leaf of the plant the late great French Witch gave him that will save him just once in a lifetime and ate it. As he ate it, he smiled at the emperor and all of them who betrayed him and to their surprise, he disappeared.
To be continued…Part 3
Culled from: “Once Upon A Time in Umuaka” by Emmanuel Aghado
ISBN: 9781301655830 ASIN: B00AGZVAFI