Koko paced the courtyard in half circles, like a lion ready to pounce on its prey. The west wind blew fiercely, carrying traces of salt and ashes.
Earlier that morning, Koko and his men had attacked Ojika’s vineyard and set fire to it. His workers were not spared. Everyone and everything was burnt to the ground.
“Your good for nothing son–,” Koko began to say.
“Your son raped my princess! My own daughter!,” he roared.
“That’s a lie!,” Ojika interrupted. “My son would never shame my name in such a horrid manner.”
A woman’s shrill cry broke the tension in the atmosphere. Accompanied by body guards, the woman, now sobbing, limped towards Ojika. He dropped his sword and reached out to her with open arms but before his sword could, her head hit the ground first, rolling to his feet. The courtyard soil absorbed the blood that spurted out from where her head once stood.
Ojika was crushed. His face and knees dug into the earth. His brother’s eyes widened and a smile ran across his weathered face. His sword was dripping wet with blood. With arms lifted, he turned to face his clan with his back to Ojika.
“Bend the knee as your leader has done and l swear to spare your miserable lives.”
The people gathered around the dead woman’s body chattered indistinctly. Ojika lowered his head to fight back the tears.
“Is this what father would want?”
He was leaning on one knee now, fists firmly planted on the ground for support. He took one long look at his dead wife and in one quick swipe, he pulled out his dagger and charged towards his brother. Koko dodged the incoming hit cleverly.
“You’ve always been too slow, big brother. You only managed a scratch.”
He wiped the blood off his right cheek and threw his head back to laugh but only let out a choking sound.
“That was all I needed.”
Koko dropped his sword and slapped his chest with his palm repeatedly, hoping to cough out the embarrassing mass he felt in his chest. Nothing but blood exited his mouth, now agape.
“It’s called Gu, little brother. Goodbye.”
He walked away from his dying brother and his dead wife, into the vineyard, until all the people could see was the smoke that carried the scent of fire and death to the heavens.