Nebuchadnezzar kept running as he had been doing for the last three days. He ran without an end in sight. Deeper and deeper into Akaziza forest he went. He stopped momentarily to catch his breath and tried resting under a large guava tree within eyeshot of his stop-position. As he sat there breathing hard he fiddled with the fallen guava fruits by his side. Soon after, his thoughts began to fly, he thought about the death of Mazi Okolo son, Chuka – the reason everyone in the village thought him a killer.
He was on his way back from the farm that sunny day, he decided to pay his family’s hut (where he stayed now) a visit. He followed the path that led from the secluded part of the forest when he heard cries from the secluded part of the forest; he followed the noise and saw Chuka on top a young maiden who was crying hard and breathing heavy, she was obviously tired of struggling for her freedom and had given to the ravaging of the beast on top her. He instantly put a stop to it, and easily threw Chuka off her, to the hard surface on another side of the forest. Only for Chuka to remain still at the position of landing. When he went to check on him, he found out Chuka had hit the back of his head on a rock hidden beneath dry leaves. He publicly took responsibility for Chuka’s death, and refused to say anything to his prosecutors in order not to inadvertently expose the maiden, deflowered that day, to prevent the villagers from castigating her. The maiden’s name was Adaku.
Nebuchadnezzar’s thoughts were interrupted by the appearance of Tampo the spirit talker.
Tampo’s a man the whole village thought had gone mad because he claimed to be able to communicate with the dead. Harsh opinions and various death threats from people forced him to go into seclusion and hiding, long before the white-men came to Umuchue. But, within the passing years, many people still claimed to have gotten a visitation from him, helping them gain closure from their loved ones untimely taken away from them.
“Tampo!… Am I dead?” Nebuchadnezzar asked, surprised to see him. He breath hard, as though tired of the life he was forced to now live.
“Not yet,” Tampo said.
He remained silent for a while, and asked. “Is the maiden, Adaku, dead?”
Tampo shook his head. He crouched in front of Nebuchadnezzar, and placed his hands on both sides of Nebuchadnezzar’s head, a little below the ears.
“The answers you seek are here… Open your eyes… Open your eyes Nebuchadnezzar!”
Nebuchadnezzar opened his eyes, and was greeted with the face of Nnamani staring at him, standing in the exact crouch-position as Tampo in his dream.
“Hello, old friend,” Nnamani greeted, and helped Nebuchadnezzar to his feet.
They spoke; at first with like-animosity, but soon with respect, admiration, and then plain-love. They hugged their feelings out.
Nnamani led the way to his makeshift shelter, not far from where he had found his dear old friend, Nebuchadnezzar. He had a lot to tell him, and a lot to ask of him, and Nebuchadnezzar had all the time in the world to listen. Soon, they arrived at the shelter.
“Nne, bring water for my good friend here,” Nnamani shouted for his woman.
“Here is water,” she announced as she hurriedly approached from inside the shelter.
Nnamani moved to introduce them. “Nebu… meet the bone of my bone… Nkoli.”
“Ada, kedu?” Nebuchadnezzar greeted.
“Odi mma!” Nkoli replied, with a large, crooked smiled.
She went back into the shelter to give the men space to discuss.
Nebuchadnezzar couldn’t help but stare as she walked away.
“Take your eyes away, old friend,” Nnamani joked.
Nebuchadnezzar cleared his throat, before he spoke. “Why are you doing this?”
Nnamani looked up; he now wore a straight face that signalled that pleasantries had ended and it was time to discuss business. “They killed my father!… remember?”
Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged that truth but still tried to dissuade him from his aggressive approach at revenge, lest they all chew more than they could swallow and ended six feet under. Nnamani chided him, saying Nebuchadnezzar should be the most bothered about bringing justice and sanity back to their kingdom, having being the one to have suffered the most since the white-men entered Umuchue.
“Join me for this sacrifice. The gods choose you to be part of it for a reason,” Nnamani said. “In three days’ time, the strange fiery star will pass through the night sky, and combined with the power of the full-moon and the human sacrifices, we will have enough power to rain hell on those foreigners and send them running back to their evil home.”
Nebuchadnezzar stood up. His back faced his friend. He looked up to the sun as much as his eyes allowed him to. “Is this what you want of me?” He seemed to ask the gods.
“Yes my friend. This is the destiny they have prepared for us,” Nnamani replied him.
Suddenly, white men came out from every side, and within seconds the shelter was totally surrounded.
“In the name of The Queen, you all are under arrest.”
Everything blacked out for Nebuchadnezzar. His story was just getting more interesting.