Ikeagu who had spent three days on his journey, stood on the clay road that led to Umuagu. The last time he was in village was when he was five years old. This was the same road his mother had ran carrying him by midnight to meet Nweze at Etiti.
He walked wearily until he drank water from the stream beside the road. He then was refreshed and began walking again. He then saw Umuagu village from the distance were he halted. As he kept moving forward, a beautiful lady began coming toward him. But not him; he would not savor a woman’s beauty on his heart, because he came for a serious business.
“Hello, you are from this village?” He asked her without greeting at all.
“Yes, Sir. You are a stranger here, no doubt”. The lady told him.
“I am Ikeagu, the son of Omenike the murdered king”. He revealed. The lady paused and managed to continue:
“King Nzekwe and Dimgba his Chief counselor could harm you. The people in that palace will not enjoy your welcome. It will be better if you return to where you are coming from”. The lady cautioned.
“What’s your name? He asked.
“Nnenna I did not ask you to give me the history that led to those people hating me. And besides, you should have noticed my attire and see that I am not an easy man”.
“I saw that you dressed like a Warrior before I got to you. And would have taken you for someone who has come to threaten us with war, but I have not heard rumours of war for more than fifty moons past. So I didn’t fear”. Nnenna confessed.
Ikeagu laughed. “Come and show me the King’s palace”.
“It’s dangerous for me to show you the King’s palace, since you are Omenike’s son. They will kill me or banish my family”. Nnenna told him.
“No one will point a finger at you, not when I am still full of breath”. He assured her.
“You are asking me to die. The King’s Palace is after the Market. You could trace it from there, but leading you to see King Nzekwe is one danger I will not risk”. She told him.
“Well, thank you Nnenna. I will be going now”. He said and left her, while she stood looking at him. He went on until he walked pass the market place, where some women and men who were trading for cowries kept looking at him….The King’s palace which was white in color and big enough stood out from huts around it. Ikeagu removed his shield, held it with his left hand and held the staff he was given at Etiti on his left hand. Although his anger began burning inside, he had to keep his knife because wisdom must first speak, he thought.
As soon as he got to the King’s palace, the guards stopped him. “You are a stranger, and dressed like a Warrior, the King is busy besides. You have to keep your knife, staff and shield outside with us before you go inside to see the king”. One of the guards told him. Ikeagu looked away from them for about twenty seconds; he would have been in this palace sitting beside his father Omenike and would never have received such insult from these servants that claimed to be guards.
“It’s an insult to strip a Warrior of his Weapons in Etiti where I come from, you uncultured bastards. Go and tell your king that Ikeagu is here!” He ordered them.
“Who is Ikeagu? We have never heard of such name even in other villages nearby. Stranger, what you should do is what my colleague has told you”.
The other guard told him. “Do you recognize I am a prince in Umuagu, and a title holder in Etiti?” He asked them.
“The king has no child. Or are you his son from another woman?” One of them asked.
“Go and tell your king that Omenike’s heir is here!” They looked at each other in amazement as one of them quickly ran into the palace and whispered Ikeagu’s presence to the King. The King became speechless before his chiefs.
Dimgba the highest titled Chief in Umuagu was present: “King Nzekwe what is the problem, what did the guard whisper to you?” He asked the king. Dimgba who is inquisitive wants to know everything that happens in the palace. The king stood up, looked around and announced to the people:
“Ikeagu is alive! Not just alive only, he’s outside this palace!”
Everyone around looked at themselves in great amazement. “So, all these years Omenike’s heir had been alive?” The King asked rhetorically. The Queen, who heard of it from her chambers, came to the king. She beckoned on Dimgba and the other chiefs:
“What shall we do now?” She asked with urgency on her voice.
“He has to be stopped. King Nzekwe order your Warriors to execute him!” Dimgba told him.
“Yes. I thought that too”. Akadia the queen supported. The king thought of the idea and refused it.
“No. I can’t watch another blood spill again. It’s enough!” The king said.
“Let him in”. He ordered the guards. Dimgba and the others grew angry. Ajulu, one of the chiefs went to the king;
“You are inviting the cat to take care of the fish that is in the basket; he has not come in peace, e, he would have stayed where he was raised till he follows Omenike his father down the grave”. He told the king. Mazi and Obinna, who also were Chiefs, supported Ajulu by nodding their heads.
But the king still persisted, until Ikeagu came in. As soon as the king saw Ikeagu, he smiled. “You are welcome back to Umuagu, my brother’s son. Give him a royal stool to sit on”. The king told one of the guards who guarded his throne.
“No, I have not come to sit down. Because my business here is urgent. I don’t expect anyone here to like me, so I am conscious of my death here”. He told the king.
“Why should you insult my hospitality because of your business?” The king asked him.
“I have only come here to dream my nightmare. But most importantly, I want answers”.
“What answers have you come to find?” Dimgba asked him.
Ikeagu turned to him; “I see you are a titled chief. I am a titled chief too. A man trained for war by Nweze the great Warrior of Etiti.”. The people became shocked and afraid. Because Nweze is a name known for war. Ikeagu continued; “who killed Omenike my father?” He asked and drove his staff into the earth!
The king became worried. It was like some horror has returned to haunt him afresh. The chiefs looked at themselves and saw this is an unplanned journey.
“Young man, who is titled. I know your exploits earned you your title. And we respect that you may be Omenike’s son, but what proof did you bring that you’re the late king’s son?” Dimgba asked him. Ikeagu dropped his shield and took off his leopard skin, and revealed the mark of the prince of Umuagu on his left arm to everyone.
“It’s the mark of the royal house of Umuagu” Cried Ajulu.
“He is no doubt Omenike’s son. I was one of those who witnessed the mark day of the prince. He is Ikeagu, no doubt!” The king remembered vividly.
Dimgba who recovered from the surprise then said; “My son, your father’s death and its mystery remains with the assassinators who killed him. You cannot dig the roots of an Iroko tree in one day!”
“To bring down the Iroko tree, you begin with just a cut. Now, the question is who sent the assasins, and why? Because Onudia my mother always told me when I was growing up that, Omenike was a good king. And I believed her, because she died trying not to forget his horrible death!”.
“Ah! Onudia is dead?” Akadia the queen asked.
“Yes. They succeeded in killing those two, except the one here!” He answered harshly.
“Your voice sounds like the drum for unrest”. The king told him.
“If you say so, well, that’s true. But I will beat it louder every day until I get the answer I want” He declared.
“But why do you think the palace is the best place to get your answers?” Ajulu asked him.
“Because Omenike was murdered in the palace and not the market”. He said and bowed to the king in reverence, then took out his staff, and left.
© Dike Dyke Williams, All rights reserved.