The king sighed; he should have listened to his wife, when she warned against stopping the festival. But, he let the chief priest manipulate him, because of the rivalry between the priests and the priestesses. As a king, he has failed in his duty to settle their dispute and now he has put the kingdom in danger. Now, for his own mistakes, he has to send his son to a land where no one ever returns. The king was so deep in thoughts that he was oblivious to the commotion that was going on around him.
“Your majesty, this is not the time to be lost in thoughts, you need to make a decision fast. Please give the royal command to let your son go on this journey to redeem our kingdom.” The high priestess cut into the king’s thoughts.
“Must my son go on this journey? The prophecy states that someone of royal blood must go on the journey. Can I not go in his place?”
“Do not speak like a child your majesty; you know your place is in the kingdom. I understand how you feel, but this is a mission for the young, brave and strong.” The high priestess answered.
“You cannot know how I feel, you do not have a child.” The king said.
“That is true, but the priestesses I watch over are just like my children. So please do not be sentimental and give the royal command.”
“My father, do not be sad I shall go into the dark lands and I shall return victorious. All I need is an army of one hundred men.” The crown prince said.
“Your highness, the dark lands is not a place for just anybody. Only the chosen may go there and there is no guarantee that they will return.” Oluwo responded.
“For the very first time since I have known you, Oluwo, you have spoken with wisdom.” The high priestess said.
Omifunke was beginning to hate the prince, who did he think he was? How could he even think of taking an army to the dark lands?
“But, didn’t the prophecy say that the noble and pure will go to the dark lands?” The king asked.
“Indeed your majesty. That is what the prophecy states. And we all know that no one is purer at heart than the Omi priestesses.” The high priestess answered and the chief priest scoffed at her response. But, she ignored him and continued.
“That is why I have brought two of my apprentices with me; one of them shall accompany the prince on this journey. This is Omitilewa, the priestess who found out that the calabash is missing and, this is Omifunke, a priestess whose destiny is great but, unknown.” The high priestess introduced her apprentices, and the king took notice of them for the first time.
“How dare you take this matter with levity? You want mere female apprentices to accompany me on such an important journey?” The crown prince blurted out in annoyance.
“Silence boy, these mere female apprentices are far more powerful than you can ever imagine.” The king said. “So, who among these apprentices will accompany the prince?”
“Your majesty for that to be known, the chief priest and I will have to do a special consultation. This is because the goddess is angry. To summon her, we need to combine our powers.”
“Will you be able to work together? It is not a secret that you both hate each other.” The king asked.
“For the sake of the kingdom, I can work with the lowest of persons.” The high priestess responded. Oluwo kept quiet and endured all the insults, he would have his revenge. He would make sure that the priestesses lose favour with the king. His first step had been to stop the festival; he didn’t know the goddess would get so angry. But, when all these is over, he would find a way to get custody of the golden calabash and put an end to the priestesses forever. But for now, he had to endure.
“Good then, when will you start?” the king asked.
“As soon as possible” the high priestess responded.
After two days of consultations and rituals, the high priestess and the chief priest finally came out of the shrine, and another meeting was set at the palace court room.
“What did the goddess say?” the king asked.
“Your majesty, the goddess has spoken. Omifunke shall accompany the prince on this journey.” The high priestess responded.
To be continued….