It had been raining for seven days straight, in Ilueru village. Abike hated that she had to go out in the rain to look for food for her family. But, she doubted there would be any game for her to kill.
Ilueru was a border village in the kingdom of Ibiyowa. Ilueru literally means ‘the town of slaves’. Although, all the villagers were freemen, they were all ridiculously poor. Even when the skies were clear, the villagers found it difficult to eat three square meals in a day. They were in the part of the kingdom were nothing grew. There were no antelopes to hunt, it was so bad that if a hunter found a bush rat in his trap, he would end up sacrificing it to the gods for thanksgiving.
Abike was eight when her father died of an unknown illness, leaving her mother alone with two children. She could not stand the sight of her mother wallowing in self pity and complaining about how she had take of two children alone. So, she took up her father’s profession as a hunter, against the advise of all the elders in the village. She’d been at it for eight years and had gotten better at hunting as the years flew by.
As she walked by,she used her cutlass to cut down the stubborn grass that had grown over the path in the last seven days. She couldn’t believe her luck when she got to her father’s farm and found that her trap had just caught a bush rat. She was overjoyed, she used her small knife to put the animal out of its misery. She was not going to foolishly offer the animal as thanksgiving sacrifice, the gods didn’t need it but her family did. And to think that her mother had tried to stop her from going out in the rain because the witch woman had said the rain was a bad omen.
“Mother, you won’t believe my luck today. My trap had just caught an animal when I entered father’s farm.” She announced as she entered their hut.
Her mother and sister who was only two years younger than her jumped up from their mats; they had been lying down when she entered.
She handed to the game to Anike, her sister. “Start a fire inside so we can cook the meat.” she said, since it was obvious they could not cook outside.
Her mother embraced her, despite the fact that she was drenched. “You should have been born a boy” She said, with a smile on her face.
“I thought you said it was too dangerous to go out in the rain, because the witch woman said so. Or should I offer it to the gods for to thank them for the animal?” Abike asked jokingly. And they all laughed.
“Let me get you a dry wrapper, your clothes are soaking wet.” Her mother offered.
That night, they slept peacefully after a wonderful dinner. But, their sleep was interrupted.
They heard villagers screaming and they rushed out to see what was happening. At first, Abike thought that the Bale, village chief had died. Since he was very old. But, when they got outside, they realised they were under attack.