Thursday, June 18

26

Ebubedike and the Desertlings of Uforo - 12

TWELVE



The creature was an old evil spirit. She had come from far seeking refuge in the underground caves of the desertlings.


She was called Ajulu, born a witch, but now a dark, smelly being. She has been living in the cave for four decades, as undetectable as air.

She had come to Uforo a weak, beaten spirit, but now her powers have started to grow back— she has finally fed on a heart.

But yet she knew what strength the heart of a warrior marked by the gods can afford her, and she had ever been with a scheme. One she had so carefully plotted for decades.

The warrior’s heart she has so desperately sought; her desire was to take over Uforo.

***

The huge bird spread out her giant wings in the air and plunged downward.

She halted in front of the tall hill and thrust her neck out in a shrill screech.

The riders jumped down her back, their hands to their ears, eyes shut to the dust and leaves whirling about in the air.

Finally, there was calm again and the vulture turned to Anene. ‘I have done my part now, good musician. I leave you here in peace and pray you reach home safely. I forever will have you in heart.’

Anene nodded at it. ‘Great thanks, my friend.’

The vulture lowered her head in respect. ‘Onye mulu nwa na ebe akwa?’ she sang.

Anene smiled. He raised his flute to his mouth and blew the complementary tune.

Okwa egbe mulu nwa na ebe akwa!

Who has given birth to a crying baby? –the old lullaby went.

The kite has given birth to a crying baby.

Bring out seeds, bring out peppers— for the gathered birds to lick their fingers…


Anene went and hugged the bird. ‘Goodbye, my friend.’

The vulture spread her wings. ‘Goodbye!’

The next instant, dust and leaves were flying about in the air again as she took off.

‘Good byes, horse bird!’ Kobi screamed at the bird, waving. ‘I shalls never wants to see you again!’

‘Quiet, short thing.’ Anene rubbed Kobi’s head playfully.

They turned and started towards the large cavern— a large hole through the bottom of the hill.

Inside, the space grew darker with each step. The ground was moist and the air clammy. Somewhere ahead, they could hear the echo of a trickling of water.

They got to the centre where the cave split up into a dozen chambers and stopped.

The different-sized hollows were in intricate arrangement. It was said that not all that entered the cave could find their way back.

Once, there was the story of a banished clan. They passed through the caves and found themselves in a magical forest where all was lush and green. Kobi was from that clan.

‘Here. This way, follow me,’ Kobi said, leading the way into a narrow chamber on the right. ‘This way to the pool.’

‘You’ve been here before?’ Ngeli asked.

‘Kobi been to many places, stranger woman.’

Ngeli lit a wood torch and they followed him.

The path led into another chamber and then another, till they stopped in front of a fairly wide channel. The round passage went straight through the rock, its end swallowed up in darkness.

‘The road to the pool,’ Kobi said. ‘Come, come on now, we must hurry! The pool just beyond!’

Stepping in, they disturbed a colony of bats resting on the wall. They flapped away through them, dark squeaking creatures.

Halfway through the space, Kobi halted. ‘Wait!’ he said.

They turned to him. ‘What is it, Kobi?’ Ngeli asked.

‘That smell, it is new. I tell you now that it hasn’t been here before.’

They looked round; they could perceive it too. Something like the awful smell of rot.

Kobi walked to the wall and touched it. He put his hand to his nose. ‘It’s on the walls too,’ he said. ‘It is everywhere. We must escape at once.’

‘No,’ Ebubedike said. ‘We can’t turn back now.’ He turned to Ngeli. ‘Take them, wait for me at the mouth of the cave and I will meet you.’

Ngeli shook her head. ‘No, Ebube, I will stay.’

Anene slapped the wall opposite them. ‘Really, warrior, really? You choose a woman over me to guide?’

‘Quiet, fool!’ Ngeli barked at him. ‘This is no time for your stupidity!’

Anene grabbed her at the neck. He was different now; all of them. A tinge of red had appeared in his eyes.

Ngeli threw the burning torch aside. She shoved her knee to Anene’s groin. Anene groaned, clutching himself. ‘Next time think it twice before touching me with your ratty fingers!’

Kobi picked the torch and held it up, as if to make sure the fighters saw their opponents well.

Anene charged towards Ngeli, pushing her to the rock wall. He pinned her there and Ngeli struggled for breath. ‘How do you feel now, amazon warrior?’ he asked her. ‘Tell me!’

She slammed her head into his.

The slim flutist fell away, clutching his head.

‘Stop!’ Ebubedike yelled. ‘Stop all of you!’

‘It is the smells, big one,’ Kobi said. ‘It has turns them mad.’

‘Get out all of you!’ Ebubedike said. ‘Walk back out now!’

They obeyed and turned back.

Ebubedike watched till the last of them had disappeared before he picked the torch and continued.

He walked slowly now. The space thinned out with distance, the stench stronger.

He passed through a small crack and came out to a wide space.

He looked and saw the pool. The sparkling pool.

Just as it was said, it sparkled, casting glints of light to the walls.

He quickly brought out the calabash and bent down to the water. His hand out to dip into the water, a voice shrieked.

‘Step away, lad!’

Ebubedike turned. He saw nothing. ‘Who calls?’ he asked.

He waited, but heard nothing again.

He held out his hand again to dip into the water and fetch the sand.

Just then, a long tail struck his back, the force sending him off into the air.

He bumped hard into the wall behind and fell to the ground with a deep groan. He struggled to his feet and checked his back; there was blood.

‘Show yourself!’ he called. ‘Show yourself if you are brave enough. Only the twisted in mind will attack the innocent and yet in stealth! Show yourself!’

Finally, she rose. Ajulu. Right from the centre of the pool, a dark, ugly creature, she rose.

She was a woman, an ugly, long-tailed woman with skin the colour of charcoal. Pointy barbs lined her back from neck to tail.

Her hair fell down her neck as thick dark worms. Her smell filled the air, of darkness, filth and evil.

'You finally come, warrior,’ she said. ‘I have been expecting you for years!’ Her eyes glistened green in the dark.

‘How can something so ugly live in here?’ Ebubedike said.

The creature threw back her face and cackled— a dark, ominous laugh. ‘Only the dark and ugly survive these days, warrior. To live, you must embrace that which is avoided by all, that which instils fear!’

‘Who are you and what are you called?’ Ebubedike asked.

‘I am Ajulu. I command all that is dark!’

‘Where did you come from?’

‘F-a-r! From the distant land of Odu. There was a time I was a witch there. I was beaten, burnt and butchered, nowhere was fit for me till I came here.’

She let out another unamused laugh. ‘Here in this cave I found all that is there to keep me alive! I endured. I survived.’

‘How is it that you have managed to escape notice for great many years? Agadi-nwanyi did—’

‘The ancient Uforo goddess is a dying being,’ the creature cut in. ‘She has not remained the dread she used to be. You can see that even the gods age too, warrior. Agadi-nwanyi’s time is coming to an end. My time is now. Ajulu will rise again. Uforo will have a new god. In my darkness, this land will flourish. In my chill, it will shake. Ajulu is here to rule!’

‘I won’t let that happen.’

More cackling. ‘You have no say in my choice, warrior! Do not flatter yourself too much, you are but a man. Fresh and blood you were born, and that you shall remain!’

She stepped out of the pool now. She walked round Ebubedike. ‘But you can choose to join forces with me. Serve me, warrior, and I will make you a god. A living god, what could be more precious! Together we will conquer this land and many more. Our reign will boom round the walls of earth. We will retell legend.’

‘Never!’ Ebubedike said. ‘Never shall it be told that Ebubedike, son of Odogwu, succumbed to the manipulation of an evil spirit! I warn you now, woman, depart this land at once with your filth, or leave unwhole.’

Now the creature’s laugh echoed round the space. Menace filled the air. ‘You are but a boy, Ebubedike. A very unwise decision you have made not to ally with me. The loss is entirely yours for all that I require from you is your heart and I shall have it. Dead or alive, I shall use it!’

‘Never!’ Ebubedike said.

Another laughter. ‘Wars and battles you have conquered, warrior, but you are no match for me!’

She flung her tail to Ebubedike and sent him crashing into the wall. She walked up to him as he fell, grabbed him and threw him off to the opposite wall.

The warrior’s bulk thumped hard on the damp ground. Ebubedike let out a loud groan.

He tried to rise, but she was on top of him the same instant. Her moves were quick and smooth.

She held him down and put up her hand. Her nails became long talons.

She left a terrible scratch on his chest, and then on his arm.

She was reaching for his eyes when the warrior twisted to one side, shoving her away in the process.

He rose quickly and jumped on to her back. The barbs on her spine pierced his skin, but he endured.

He grabbed her head, trying to twist it out of joint.

But the creature’s long tail was of surprising flexibility. She sent it to her back and it twirled round the warrior.

She sent him off into the air.

She was on top of him as soon as he landed.

Her eyes flashed a bright green. She held down the warrior’s neck and continued to press. Down and down she pressed, eager to cut off the last of his breath.

Ebubedike wriggled underneath her. He struggled and struggled, but her grip was solid, filled with vile determination.

Now the warrior’s struggle was subsiding, his eyes closing, a thread of saliva seeping down his mouth.

His legs straightened.

Finally, the worm hairs of the creature came alive. ‘Feed now,’ she said to them. ‘Feed on precious heart, my dears, feed. Feed and regain your bearer’s magic!’

The snake-like creatures growled, mouths open revealing tiny jagged teeth, ready to rip open the warrior’s chest and consume his heart.

But just then the cave shook.

The evil creature turned.

A tall woman has appeared at the wall opposite them. She was clothed in a long green gown. Her brown skin shimmered in the lowlight, as if oiled. Her hair was long and dark and wet.

Ebubedike stared at her through half-dead eyes. He recognized her.

Agbala-Iyi.

She has come to help. She didn’t curse him, never would have.

She only had been angered by the folly of youth.

And in her anger, she had departed and forsook all that was of him. His farm, his livestock, his household. He left him free to will. With her eyes turned away, evil took advantage.

Ajulu and her scheme have endured many years.

‘Rise, warrior!’ the water goddess said.

Slowly, the warrior wrestled to his feet. His distended eyes settled back into their sockets.

Maddened, Ajulu lunged toward the goddess.

With a slight wave of hand, she sent her engulfed in flames.

She groaned and growled in the fire till she finally exploded. Dark ash splashed all over the place.

Ebubedike fell to the goddess’s feet. ‘Forgive me, mistress. I desecrated you, forgive me.’

‘You may rise, son.’

Ebubedike kissed her naked feet and rose.

The goddess nodded. ‘There is no time,’ she said. ‘Fetch your hand and depart for home at once!’

She went off with air.

Outside, they all ran to him.

‘We saw, master, we saw,’ Kobi said. ‘The departure of evil from our land, we saw! We smelt it. The air is free and sweet again.’

‘Apologies, master,’ Ngeli said first.

‘Forgive me too, warrior,’ Anene joined.

Ebubedike nodded his acceptance.

But just then he saw the sign!

He’d seen it in the sky first— a flash of dark in the clouds—before it got to his heart.

Like a shiver of cold, it walked round his entire skin. He felt it strongly, a terrible omen.

All is not well at home.

26 comments:

  1. Agbala-Iyi da alu ooo.
    i hop the wife has nt killed herself. This last part is full of suspense.
    the love btw ebube and d wife is strong for him to feel such omen even in a far distance.
    👍

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  2. Now i've got to wait another week 4 the sequel, i guess i have 2 be patient

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  3. All not well at home ke? Ihuoma must not dieooooooooooooooh! I believe we are coming to the conclusion of the story!

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  4. With a slight wave of hand, she sent her engulfed in flames. ....chai....powerful goddess
    I believe Ihuoma is still living
    nice one!

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  5. Nice one. Ebubedike will sure bring his wife back to life even if she dies.

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  6. Am so scared for Ihuoma, Mr Dan pls don't let her die ooo. This episode is really powerful i had goose bumps all over me. Thanks Dnb stories for always making my day.

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  7. Ihuoma must not die. Am scared now. noting must happen to her. Kudos to u Mr. Dan

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  8. I was literally in that cave with ebubedike . don't know how you do that. But if ihuoma dies d story will not make sense again

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  9. Patiently waiting for this Nigerian thriller. This story has inspired me to look more into Nigerian setting.

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  10. Wow, this is so real I felt as if i was watching a movie. Ihuoma cannot die pls pls.

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  11. I just read this part n got to ask, how do you fashion your dialogue, its just too wonderful.
    Not a huge fan of fiction but this was really good.

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  12. Question
    ow did ebube no day it was agbala-iyi? I hop in episode 13, we will see ow he would get home coz am sure he is nt goin to trek back!
    Dan smileys no dey appear for d post? Why?

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    Replies
    1. 1. Agbala-iyi revealed herself.

      2. We'll see that next week

      3. Below the comment box, a smiley pack has been added. Just copy the code and add to your comment.
      You can try it out now. <3 B)

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    2. And you too, Sekinat. Your smiley didn't show, Y?
      :s :s :s

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    3. Oh, sorry, Sekinat. Victor decided to remove it. He said it's affecting our loading time. You can use hashtags. Apologies.

      Delete
  13. Wow. Thanks for this Dan. Awaiting next week, and please don't kill iheoma's character. Biko.

    Pamscrib.blogspot.com

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  14. Omen kwa. Ihuoma shouldn't die o please. Lovely story.

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  15. -o- -o- -o-
    Ihuoma must not die o. Ha can't imagine what will happen to Ebubedike if she dies

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  16. That felt so real..pls nothing should happen to ihuoma oh

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  17. Dan good job, abeg no kill ihuoma b4 her husband get home..... Well I trust u sef u won't want her die lolsssss feeling u bros.

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