Story: Urenma (The River Goddess)


    Chapter 1

    it was the time long before European ships ventured into Africa. In the small town of Ukeh, amongst the igbos, myths and legends abounded. Nwangele River was the big deal in this town; it was both their source of drinking water and their god. Tales were woven by the elders of Ukeh about the power of the gods who dwelt in the river. There was a time when the children of the river gods began to find their way into the lives of the people of Ukeh by being born as mortals. Those children of the gods brought with them wealth and riches into the families they were born. At a point it became a common practice to inquire from oracles if a new born child was of the gods or of men; in the cases where a child was of the gods, it would call for great celebration. The family into which a child of the gods was born would know that its affairs were lack and penury were over; their new child would fill their houses with riches. Their barns will be filled with plenty, their farms would produce abundantly, their chickens, sheep, goats and cows would increase; and even the woman in the family would know no bareness.

    However as Ukeh prospered and the sound of joy filled it; their river gods were not happy, they sat and agreed to recall to the river kingdom all their children who had been born as humans in Ukeh. So one eke market day, death began to sweep through the land of Ukeh; the children of the gods were being summoned home. At the streams, at the market place and in the farms dead bodies piled up. Wailing and sorrow filled the land. On that day, Ukeh, a once happy town, became a byword for sorrow. If one cried over one’s dead relativies or losses, such a person would be told, “Do not cry like Ukeh, it shall be well again with you”.

    However there were few children of the gods who did not heed the call to return to the river kingdom. They found life in Ukeh much more enjoyable than their lives in the river as children of the elder river gods. They made a stand and refused to return to their kingdom. The river gods sat yet again and sent emissaries to them, but they did not heed the call of the gods; their minds had been made up to live as men. So the gods of the river kingdom cursed them, and in one day, all the twenty of them ran mad and began to feed on the people of Ukeh like the beasts of the field.

    The elders of Ukeh sought the gods for answers and were told to bring to Nwangele River the heads of those twenty rebellious sons and daughters of the gods. Warriors skilled in the art of killing were sent and within weeks the heads of those children of the gods were supplied at Nwangele River and so the curse of the children of the gods feeding on the people of Ukeh ceased. After the departureof the children of the gods, the wealth they brought with them began to diminish until there was nothing left of them. After the pain and searing sorrows which over took the joy those children of the gods brought to the land of Ukeh, the people of the land decided they would never let the children of the gods dwell amongst them nor seek them to be born into their homes. They made it their tradition to inquire when a baby is born whether it is of the gods or men. Before celebrations would begin for the new born child to their midst, they would first seek their river gods to know if the child was theirs. Such enquiry was done by throwing new born babies into Nwangele River. If the child disappeared into the river, then it was a child of the gods, but if it floated, then it was of men.
    Though mothers hated the practice, they still had to do it to forestall the danger of the children growing up only to turn into flesh eating beasts.

    Chapter 2


    After ages had passed and the pain of the people Ukeh over the loss of many of its sons and daughters-children of the gods who were born as men- had dulled, a princess of the river kingdom was born in Ukeh as a baby girl. A barren woman, Ngbankwo by name, who took in after many years of barreness gave birth to a baby girl whose kingdom could not be determined by being thrown into Nwangele River. When the child was thrown into the river it sunk in the moments later it sprang up. It kept doing this until the priest who tested it in the river lifted it and gave it back to its mother and pronounced the child to be of men. The priest did not understand what happened nor had he seen anything like that all the years he had been testing babies in Nwangele River. When the baby was handed back to Ngbankwo, she and her poor husband broke into celebration. They had thought the baby was gone when it sunk into the river. They took the baby home and named it Urenma. And so the baby began to grow. When the baby had grown into a girl, tales of her unusual beauty spread through Ukeh and beyond. Men and women described her as beautiful as the moon while others said her face shone brighter than the sun and some even dared the gods and said they must be jealous of her beauty. Young boys of her age claimed she was no human; no one took the little boys seriously because she had survived the test at the river and so must be human.

    When Urenma had reached the age of seventeen, her father’s house became some form of tourist centre; men of different classes and from all climes began to flock to her father’s house to ask her hand in marriage. Urenma’s father, Okeke, who had since the birth of his daughter became a wealthy man, was loaded with all forms of gifts and presents by men who sort to marry Urenma.
    Those men hoped that their gifts would persuade Okeke to make them his choice for his daughter.

    Though Okeke gladly recieved their gifts, the power to choose who Urenma would marry was far removed from his hands. His daughter Urenma, had made it clear to her parents that the choice of whom to marry would be hers to decide.
    However Urenma had no intention of ever getting married. She was a princess of the gods from the river kingdom who was granted permission by the gods to be born as mortal and to dwell amongst mortals for a brief time and then return to the water kingdom to fill her role as a princess of the gods. Okeke and Ngbankwo were not aware of this. Though they had often wondered how she was able to do some of the thing she did, they did not think she was a child of the gods. How could she have been, after all the gods returned her when she sunk into the river? When her parents asked her about how she could do the unusual things they saw her do, she would explain that she saw them in her dreams.

    Though she always visited the river world every night in her dreams, that was however not an explanation for the things she could do. Urenma was able to heal her parents sick animals, predicted the weather, described un-harvested farm produce, told her parents the persons who would visit them before the guests arrived and spoke to animals.

    Chapter 3


    While Ukeh and the villages around them waited with bathed breath to know who Okeke would give his daughter to as wife, Urenma had a fatal accident- she found love. One day Urenma was at Nwangele River washing sliced cassava for her mother when a handsome young man walked into the river to fetch water. Some young men who were washing thier clothes at the river began to poke fun at him. The young man was poor and looked dirty; his name was Obinze. Obinze had lost his parents while he was still very tender and was left with only his aged grandmother. The old woman was too old to fend for herself and Obinze, so from a young age Obinze began to farm and hunt to care for his grandmother. Life was not fair to him, but however he killed enough game and harvested enough farm produce to keep him and grandmother from starving to death. This time of the year, Ukeh youth wrestling festival was about to begin. Every young man in Ukeh had taken to the chief priest a strong and healthy c--k, for the chief priest to perform a ritual which would keep them from breaking bones or sustaining injuries which could lead to death in the wrestling match. Every wrestling festival Obinze would fail to take part in wrestling matches because he could not afford to give the chief priest a c--k.

    Even in times when he had a c--k to give to the chief priest, he would sell it so he and his grandmother could eat. So some of the boys at the river that day ridiculed him for his poverty and continued failure to take part in the wrestling festival every year. Thier caustic words shot at Urenma’s heart like arrows. Obinze did not reply a word to them; he simple held his udu (earthen pot) under the river so water could fill it. Meanwhile Urenma could no longer bear the taunts hurled at Obinze; though she had not met him before nor had heard of him, her heart went out to him in compassion. From her task of washing sliced cassava tubers, she raised her head like a cobra and barked at the young men who made fun of Obinze, “Shut up you fools! How I wish your mothers squeezed you all dead while you were trying to come out of them. You are all filthy and deserve not to live! I swear by th gods, tomorrow, Obinze will fight at the wrestling festival and he will break each of your bones and be crowned champion”.

    Urenma’s words broke over the young men with the power of her other nature. The boys cowered and froze with fear. Obinze was afraid and raced to her defense thinking the boys would attack Urenma. He was surprise that they didn’t, Obinze thanked her for coming to his defense but told her that she shouldn’t have bothered because he had grown accustomed to their taunts. Urenma told him that she meant what she said and asked Obinze to wait for her to finish washing her sliced cassava. As Obinze and Urenma walked home and chatted about the wrestling festival she took Obinze’s hand like a woman would take that of her lover. Obinze was surprised and couldn’t say a word, he had heard of the fame of her beauty and the class of men who jolted each other with their wealth to win her hand in marriage. Urenma deliberately took Obinze’s hand; she knew what she was doing. She knew the news of that would spread through the entire village and she wanted it so.

    She was miffed at the way Obinze was treated and wanted all to know that he was going to be the next big thing in Ukeh, she, would make sure it happened. Urenma told Obinze to meet him at the chief priests shrine as soon as he got home and set down his water pot.
    About forty minutes later Obinze met Urenma at shrine of the chief priest holding a gaint c--k. She handed it to him and said, “Go in and see the chief priest. Let him offer the ritual for your safety in wrestling festival, by tomorrow you will be breaking bones at the village square”. “But Urenma, I won’t be able to break their bones. Won’t the same spirit protecting them be protecting me?”
    “Don’t worry about that, by tomorrow the spirit that protects wrestlers will not be at the village square. I will be the one watching over the wrestlers and will decide whose bones I want broken. Go in now and see the chief priest”.

    Obinze did not understand her meaning, nor had he seen a weird character like her before. After the chief priest was done with Obinze, he come out of the shrine and met Urenma. Ure; as she was fondly called, was happy for him. She gave him a pile of new clothes hideen in a basket and said. “These are for you Obi M. Tomorrow you will be dressed in your best as you make your way down to the village square”.

    Chapter 4


    Obinze’s heart palpitated when Urenma called him ‘Obi M’. No woman had called him by that name nor had they taken notice of him and now the most beautiful of them all called him by that name. Urenma drew closer to Obinze and gently rested her forehead on his; she could hear Obinze’s heart pounding rhythmically. She knew he was in shock of the affection she had shown him and her beauty. She said to him, “Would you let me walk by yourside as you make your way to the village square by tomorrow?” “Yes I will be happy to!” “Thank you Obi m”. Obinze was in a hurry to pull himself away from a woman whose beauty of the gods pale in comparision to hers. As Obinze turned to take a walk away from her, Urenma pulled him back and asked, “Can I kiss you? You will need it tomorrow to win your matches?” Obinze was speechless, he stood starring at the beauty in front of him, and then as if nudged by an unseen hand, Obinze grabbed and kissed her passionately. When he was done he felt energy surging through him like the power of thunder; he shook and fell to the ground. Urenma began to laugh at him and sat beside him on the ground. Obinze asked “What was that Urenma?” “Tell me the truth, well I already know it, was that your first kiss?” “Yes it was. I have never kissed a woman before”. “You should not have felt all that energy now. It should not have come now until tomorrow on the ground. This is not good for us Obinze. It means…….well forget it. That was my first kiss too. No man had kissed me all my life”. Urenma suddenly looked crestfallen; Obinze sat up from the ground and asked, “Has your hand been given to a man in marriage? I did not know please forgive me for taking the liberty to kiss you…….” “Don’t worry about that Obinze. It is not the reason I feel sad. I was going to kiss you anyway. I was expecting it to be just a simple kiss to help you at the square tomorrow, but it wans’t”. “It wans’t? What does that mean?” “Obi m don’t worry, I hope you will understand my meaning later. Let us go home”.

    In the night when Urenma had gone to bed, she slipped into the river kingdom as that was her habit, but that night she went to the river world, with an intention- to make a request to the gods. As the gods sat, deliberating on the affairs of men and spirits, Urenma walked into the chamber of the gods, dressed in the full power of her beauty. She knelt before the gods and asked to be given permission to speak, the eldest god waved at her to speak,”Lords and gods of the spirit world, I have come with a burden, my heart is heavy; I need you to make it light for me. I have found a man amongst mortals whom my heart has grown soft for. I know I am a princess of the spirit world and cannot love a man. However I have come to make my requests known to you all. I want you to grant me permission to love him until my time amongst men is fuifilled and I be summoned to return. I am now partly flesh and the nature of flesh sways me”.

    The eldest of the gods spoke, “When you asked us to grant you the unthinkable, which was to be born as mortal we did. But what you did not know was that the permission to be born as a mere mortal also gives you the right to love a man…..but!” the eldest gods bellowed, “……..you must never marry the man whom you choose to love. If you choose to marry a man, there will be so much you will lose, there will be consequences”.

    Urenma was relieved to know she could love a man. She thanked the gods and returned to the natural world. She woke up in her hut and shed tears of joy, by dawn she would tell her parents about her love for Obinze. She know they would protest because of his abject proverty, but she knew that would be no problem; she would turn his fortune around and make him the wealthiest man in Ukeh. She was confident that if she told her parents that Obinze would become the wealthiest man in Ukeh, they would believe her.

    Chapter 5


    The energy and excitement of her new found love could not let her sleep much that night long before her usual time of waking up, she woke and began to sweep her father’s compound. When she was done she washed the earthen pots and plates used the previous night to eat and went down to the stream to fetch water. All that while she had a song in her heart and a skip in her stride; she felt like the eagle gliding though the sky. She prayed under her breath to the gods she had spoken to some hours earlier that by the time she had reached home from the river; her parents must have woken up so she could tell them about her love for Obinze. The concept of love was new to her, it made her want to walk in the air and fly without wings. It was one thing she never felt as a princess of the gods. “If mortals have this to enjoy, then it must be beautiful being mortal”, she thought. Thankfully by the time she returned from the river her parents were already awake. Her mother had begun to simmer her soup and some fufu which they couldn’t consume the previous night. When Ngbankwo lifted her face to respond to her daughter’s greeting she saw a glow in her face, she had to ask, “Is that you Urenma?” “Yes mama, it is I”. “Oh my god! You look like a child of the gods. What did you see at the river this early morning?”
    Okeke who was in one corner of his compound cleaning his mouth with a long chewing stick had also seen his daughter’s face glowing like the moon. At first he had mistaken her for an ancestral spirit. But when Urenma spoke he realized she was his daughter, so he came over to know the reason for the radiant look on her face. “Ure I actually mistook you for a spirit from my ancestors, how were you able to hang the glow of the moon on your face?” “Papa it is the joy in my heart you see on my face”.

    Urenma set down her water pot and waved at her parents to sit close to her. They all sat on a raffia bench called Nkpoko; then Urenma let them in on the reason for her joyous mood and her radiant face, “Papa and Mama, I have found love!” She waited for them to take in the full weight of her words; she could see from their eyes that they wanted to hear more, so she continued, “The man who has found favour in my eyes is Obinze Mmaduako………..” “Amadioha! Obi who? The boy whom you speak of is the poorest young man in Ukeh and all the villages around us. Why choose him as your lover? Or don’t you intend to marry him?” asked Ngbanwko.

    “Mama relax, you and papa shouldn’t worry about his proverty. A man’s fortunes can change, can’t they? Have you two forgotten how poor you were before I was born? You have told me the story several times papa. Look at you now, aren’t you the envy of Ukeh? I want you two to note my words this morning. Have I spoken anything and it failed to be fulfilled?” “No you have not Urenma”, responded her parents. “Now hear this, that wretched orphan, who has no one but his old dying grandmother shall in one year time become the richest man in Ukeh and all the land surrounding us. I have seen it and not only that, from today his fame shall begin to spread across our land and beyond. Has any of you heard of a wrestler breaking the bones of other wrestlers?”
    “No Urenma, the gods protect them during wrestling matches”, replied Okeke. “Well papa, today you will hear of a wrestler breaking the bones of fellow wrestlers and that will Obinze”. “Ah aah Urenma! Obinze is not a wrestler and has not wrestled before. How then could he become a bone-breaking wrestler in his first attempt?” asked Ngbankwo.

    Chapter 6


    “Well mama, I have seen it. It will happen this evening at the village square, I want the two of you to come and watch him. He will make the legendary Ojadili to look like a beginner”. Okeke and Ngbankwo had seen a lot about their daughter to know that her words never fail. There was no basis to argue with her so they accepted all she said and asked her to bring Obinze home after the wrestling festival to share a meal with them.

    By evening the village square in Ukeh was filled with people from far and near. The village troop danced to ebullient drumming by young drummers. There was fanfare and boasting as each clan in Ukeh boasted that they would win the wrestling championship. Except the few young men who Urenma rebuked at the river and the chief priest, no one else knew Obinze was going to take part in that year’s wrestling championship and that he was coming to take revenge for all the ridicule he and his clan had suffered. Every year his clan had managed to send three wrestlers who always were beaten at the early stages of the wrestling competition. While the people waited for all the wrestlers to arrive they were entertained by dance groups and masquerades. Obinze was the last wrestler to arrive at the village square. When he showed up, he was dressed in costly apparel and had Urenma by his side holding his hand and occasionally brushing her cheek against his. There was a hush at square; one could have heard a pin drop. The drummers stopped beating the drums and the dancers missed their steps, as all eyes were fixed on Obinze matching into the square with Urenma.

    He led Urenma to the corner were his clan took their position and announced that he had come to wrestle. His clan brothers were shocked, none amongst them had seen him neither practice nor wrestle before, but with Urenma by his side they could not deny him. Her beauty was such that men acted cowardly before her presence. He was asked at what time he would like to enter the wrestling, he replied. “From the beginning”. With his entrance and the amazement that followed it, the drumming and dancing came to an end.

    The elders who were preside over the wrestling competition took the centre stage and announced to all present and the wrestlers that the competition had begun.

    They announced the rules of the competition and invited the clans who were to do the first round of wrestling. When it was time for the Umu Umeh clan to wrestle, Obinze stepped into the center square and the crowed booed. Then his opponent was called out and he ran into the square and began to gyrate and the crowd cheered him on.

    When the referee signaled that the wrestling had begun, Obinze’s opponent ran toward him to sweep him off his feet. Obinze grabbed him with his left arm and swung him around in the air like a rag and then flung him to the ground like a log of wood. The painful cry of the young man hushed the crowd. His thigh bones had been fractured by the impact of his body on the ground.

    He couldn’t stand up, his cry sent attendants into the square, when they found out he had broken bones, they put him on an Nkpoko and bore him to a native orthopedist.
    The crowd, his fellow wrestlers and the elders were all shock to see a wrestler break another wrestler’s bones. It had not been heard or seen in Ukeh for many decades. There was no one alive in the land to testify of having seen that at anytime. Meanwhile Obinze took his position for another round of wrestling match with a new opponent. His new opponent took to the wrestling ground with some pomp and pageantry, having made a name for himself the pervious year in the competition.

    The crowd roared and cheered as he pomped his fist into the air and beat his chest with pride and zest. Obinze didn’t take any interest in his opponent’s ostentatious bravado; he just waited for the fight to begin.

    Chapter 7


    When the signal came, he didn’t run towards his opponent to bring him down, he waited for him to come for him. The young wrestler disdainfully sized up Obinze and spit in his direction before saying to him, “I will break your neck for what you did to my colleague you little dog. I hope you cooked for your grandmother, because when I break your neck there will be no one to prepare her food”.

    Obinze didn’t reply him; he stood with his gaze fixed on his opponent. The young wrestler ran toward Obinze, his feet pounding the ground like an elephant and his eyes red shot. Obinze still didn’t move he waited for the perfect moment to act. The wrestler stretched his hands out to grab Obinze and Obinze skipped to his right side and landed a deafening slap to his face. The young wrestler staggered and turned to face Obinze in anger; his lips were bleeding and the crowd was laughing at him. He felt a ringing sound in his left ear. To save face, he threw himself at Obinze hoping to grab him and break him into two pieces, Obinze swiftly avoided him and grabbed him by the waist. Lifting him very high Obinze slammed him on the ground, one, two, three times and steadied him to his feet with his left hand and then crashed a monster slap into his face and released his hold on his opponent who fell to the ground. Obinze picked up his opponent and slammed him once more on the ground; the wrestler’s neck shifted, he broke bones in his arms and left leg, on the ground he could hardly scream loud enough. By this time the crowd was in awe of Obinze; Obinze’s kinsmen began to scream his name insanely and the crowd joined them.
    Though it was time for Obinze to make way for others clans to fight, he felt reluctant to leave.

    The crowd was shouting his name and it had gotten into his head. He fought hard to keep himself from crying openly; all his life he had been an object of ridicule and for once in his life his people and vistors to Ukeh were singing his name in praise. He stood his ground to take it all in.

    While the elders waited for him to leave the wrestling ground, a jealous, fearsome wrestler who felt Obinze was beginning to take the shine off him and the more established wrestlers ran into the wrestling ground and scooped sand from the ground and held it in front of Obinze. That gesture meant he was challenging Obinze to a wrestling match. The crowd was afraid; they knew Ikeagu was a dangerous wrestler, in four different occasions he had won the wrestling championship. He always fought like a beast. Most people in the crowd didn’t want Obinze to accept his challenge; they were beginning to like him and didn’t want him out of the competition at the early stage.

    Urenma’s parents prayed under their breath for Obinze to ignore him and walk away. However what the crowd didn’t know Ikeagu had picked the wrong time to challenge Obinze; he would live to rue his judgement. Obinze stepped forward and knocked off the sand in Ikeagu’s hand and stepped back. The crowd echoed the names of their gods in fear; some could be seen holding their breath in fear that Ikeagu was going to destroy Obinze. Ikeagu shouted like an animal and leapt forward like a cat, unlike how he acted in his previous fights, Obinze lunged forward, grabbed Ikeagu midair and suspended him high above himself and then slammed him on the ground with the agility of a lion and sat upon him and began to land punches on his face. After a few rounds of punches which had disfigured Ikeagu’s face Obinze stood up and lifted him up for a second and crashed him on the ground and walked away. Ikeagu’s jaw bones were broken, his neck broken and his waist broken. Obinze also knocked off several of his teeth and tore his forehead and ears open with his punches.

    Then crowd was in absoluted shock of what they had witnessed; it wasn’t even a fight. It was an assault; Obinze had simply beaten up the feared Ikeagu like a child. As Obinze walked away, he had no smile on his face; his eyes seemed locked on events or perhaps thoughts far removed from the happenings at the village square. It was clear to all present that a new wrestling beast had been discovered on the wrestling sand of Ukeh land. Though there were many other wrestling matches that day, the one which dominated chatter till the next day was how Obinze beat Ikeagu up like a little boy.

    That night Obinze spent a lot of time with Urenma in her father’s compound chatting about the wrestling and also the news of their love which had transformed Obinze into a village celebrity. He had not only shown them what he could do in the wrestling ground, he had also won the heart of the most beautiful woman in Ukeh and all the lands around it.

    Chapter 8


    Urenma laid her head on Obinze’s laps as he told her several stories about his suffering from childhood and about the tortoise and his wife Aliah. The parts where Obinze told her about the pains he had been through from childhood made her cry, but the stories about the tortoise and his wife Aliah left her doubling over with laughter. That night they probably kissed each other a hunderd times and still couldn’t get enough of each other. However each time Obinze broached on his fantasies about living together with a woman of his love, Urenma would wince and shed a few tears. When Obinze asked her why she cried she would tell him that her tears were tears of joy. She lied and Obinze didn’t know it. The truth was that she would never get to marry any man; as a princess of the gods she was forbidden to marry any mortal man and she had only a short life to live amongst men and it broke her heart.

    By the next day the village square was filled with greater number of people who had heard about Obinze’s prowess on the wrestling ground. Young and elderly women sung new songs in praise to Obinze. Even his aged grandmother was carried out by her kinsmen to the square to watch her grandson break more bones. The people of Ukeh could not understand how Obinze was able to break the bones of his fellow wrestlers. No one had been able to do that in decades, the gods had been able to protected them doing the wrestling festival.

    There were a few wrestlers who by night went to seek the oracles to find out the source of Obinze’s strength and to acquire charms to subdue him. The medince men they approached revealed to them that the source of his strength was the love of a woman and gave them charms to subdue Obinze on the wrestling ground. However the medince men did not know and neither was it revealed to them that Urenma was a goddess, a princess of the river kingdom.

    In the village square that evening the men who had gone to acquire power to subdue Obinze arrive with overwheling confidence that they would disgrace him. The men were Ikemefuna, Ezenwa and Uzokwe; the three of them were from differnts clans and Ikemefuna was the reigning champion. When Ikoro (Wooden gong) was sounded they were the first to jump into the wrestling ground and began to dance. Though the wrestling matches were planned in such a way that the last two standing clans would slug it out in a final wrestling match, wrestlers were permitted to challenge other wrestlers for bragging nights.

    After some clans had wrestled each other that evening Ikemefuna, Ezenwa and Uzokwe made their way to the wrestling ground and each of them openly challenged Obinze who all that evening had not wrestled. Obinze and Urenma were in a corner of the village square watching the wrestling. When Ikemefuna, Ezenwa and Uzokwe challenged Obinze to wrestle each one of them in separate matches that evening, Obinze stood and met them on the wrestling ground and humbly declined the challenge. The crowd was not happy, he had become their favourite wrestler and they wanted him to teach each one of the three wrestlers a new lesson in wrestling.

    The three men booed and mocked that he was afraid and that his success the previous day was circumstantial. Obinze ignored them and walked back to sit with Urenma. When he sat down beside her, Urenma whispered “Obi m each one of them had gone to get charm to fight you, but I want you to accept their challenge. This day Ukeh will know that there is no charm strong than a woman’s love. Obi m, go back to the wrestling ground and challenge them to fight you at the same time. I want you to break their bones and knock off their teeth. Will you do that for me?” “I will Ure”.

    Obinze stood up and began to run to the wrestling ground, by then an elder was announcing next rounds of wrestling matches to take place. When the crowd saw Obinze running the wrestling sound, it roared and some young men began to hail him, “Ebube dike! Ebube dike! Obinze Ebube dike!”
    Men and women and children took up the chant from those young men and began to sing along with them. Obinze scooped up sand from the ground held it out and shouted “Ikemefuna! Ezenwa! Uzokwe! I will wrestle the three of you on the condition that the three of you accept to fight me at the same time!” There was silence when the crowd heard Obinze’s words. They thought he had gone mad or perhaps had allowed his little success to get into his head. How could he a beginner in wrestling, challenge three ace wrestlers to fight him at the same time? Ikemefuna, Ezenwa and Uzokwe also wondered if Obinze had gone mad, they queried “Obinze do you know what you have just asked for?” “If I am mad or unaware of the gravity of my challenge, why don’t U accept first and find out for yourselves?” Ikemefuna, Ezenwa and Uzokwe ran towards Obinze and knocked away the sand which held out before him. The elderly man who was announcing matches left the ground and the wrestling gong began to sound.

    Chapter 9


    The atmosphere was tense; the crowd was terrified for Obinze. Some females admires covered their faces, they didn’t want to see Obinze beaten black and blue. Uzokwe a man of much anger was the first to attack Obinze. When Uzokwe menacingly drew closer, Obinze applied the Ife oko technique and slammed Uzokwe’s back on the ground. Like a cat Uzokwe bounced back to his feet and aimed for Obinze’s legs, swiftly he grabbed Obinze’s left leg. Obinze didn’t expect him to recover that quickly and so was caught unawares. When Ikemefuna saw that Uzokwe had gained an advantage over Obinze he ran to sweep off Obinze’s only leg on the ground. But alas, Ikemefuna could not move Obinze’s right leg. Obinze had it dug deep into the ground as he tried to maneover Uzokwe.

    To wriggle out of his fix, Obinze did the unthinkable; he grabbed Ikemefuna, the reigning champion, by his waist and took him high into the air, while he resisted Uzokwe with only one foot he had on the ground. He swung Ikemefuna around and slammed him on Uzokwe’s back; even a deaf man would have heard the sound of snapping bones. The crowd shouted rapturously at the unbelievable slunt which Obinze pulled off. Both Uzokwe and Ikemefuna wailed in excruciating pain. Ikemefuna tried to spring to his feet but collapsed. Ezenwa, a very proud man then entered the fight. He had purposely allowed Ikemefuna and Uzokwe to wrestle against Obinze because he could not want to share the glory of defeating Obinze with them. Seeing Obinze had disarmed them, he saw it as his opportunity to take out Obinze and claim the glory to himself. But he was wrong, Obinze was not his ilk. No charm or voodoo could stop him, and not while Urenma watched the fight. Obinze threw himself at the oncoming Ezenwa and knocked him to the ground by crashing his forehead into his chest. He looked behind to make sure Uzokwe and Ikemefuna were still on the ground and then sat on Ezenwa and began to land his trademark punches on his face. Some elders had to run into the wrestling ground to get Obinze off Ezenwa because they feared he was going to kill him. Obinze turned and saw Ikemefuna hobbling on one foot; he ran to meet him and swept him off his foot. Ikemefuna was his prime target as the reigning champion. His intention was to humiliate him before all present.

    While Ikemefun lay on the ground, Obinze began to slap his face rapidly with both hands. By now the crowd was beside itself with excitement, they were certain they had all seen what was, until that day, thought impossible. When he felt he had given Ikemefuna enough dosage of slaps he stood him to his feet and asked him to fight, lamely Ikemefuna attacked him; Obinze gave him no chance and knocked him down again seeing none of Uzokwe or Ezenwa was getting up, he sat comfortably on Ikemefuna and gave him a taste of his punches. Just four punches to his face, he heard Ikemefuna’s neck snap. Ikemefuna began to vomit blood and went into spasm. The crowd and the elders present were in shock, Ikemefuna was dying and they didn’t know what to do. Urenma ran into the wrestling ground and touched Ikemefuna. No one knew what she did when she touched Ikemefuna, as soon as her hand touched him, he stopped jerking and vomiting blood. Had Urenma not used her power to heal him, he would have died that day on the wrestling ground. Obinze was not one to boast; he went to each of his three opponents and congratuled them before they were bore on Nkpoko to the local orthopedist. Back at the wrestling ground Obinze asked for more fight, instead of accepting his challenge, the other wrestlers came and knelt at his feets. According to custom he poured sand on their backs as they lay on the ground and walked on their backs. That day Obinze ended that year’s wrestling festival prematurely. He had beaten the best wrestlers in the land and those left to fight him would not accept his challenge. His kinsmen bore him on their shoulders to his father’s house and so from that day the legend of Obinze began.

    The next day, in farms, in the streets and at the river, men, women and children sang, “Obinze has defeated the mighty, walked on the back of the weak and fearful and has shown why the finest woman in Ukeh chose him to be her lover”. While every one praised Obinze as a hero and sang his name, every night Urenma cried herself to sleep. Her deep pain in her heart had made her stop her nightly visit to the river world. Her heart had become nit with Obinze’s heart; they were every day growing in love and everyone was expecting them to announce their wedding. It no doubt, would bring the high and mighty to Ukeh, but the problem was Uurenma was running out of time.

    Chapter 10


    The season that allowed her to dwell amongst men was coming to an end, and also she was forbidden to marry any mortal by the gods, and there was no way she was going to tell Obinze that she won’t marry him; Obinze would simply commit suicide. She had not yet revealed to Obinze that she was a child of the gods and a princess at that. To Obinze he had found his wife, in the night as he lay on his mat, he would thank the gods who gave a poor, orphan and rejected boy like him a woman like Urenma. Though there was a few riddles he could not slove about her, like how she was able to inspire him to do impossible things. Though the people saw him as a hero and a fearless man, he knew it was all down to Urenma. He could not fathom how he was able to do things he did at the village square during the wrestling festival. He was certain there was something about Urenma that set her apart from other humans, but he could not get his hands on it. He hoped that when they must have married each other, she would explain her mysterious nature to him.

    As the year wore on and the hunting competition came, everyone knew without doubt who would come out tops. The hunting festival was a three day hunting expedition, with bows, arrows, traps and machetes, the hunters would go into the forest to hunt the biggest games. At this time the white man’s gun had not been brought down to Africa. After three days, all the hunters would come out of the forest with their kills and display them at the village square. The expedition was quite a risky one; sometimes hunters would be gored or eaten alive by beasts in the forests. To forstall such happenstance, hunters would wear amulets into the forests. Before Obinze went into the forest to hunt he went to see Urenma, who for reasons he could not make out, had become very with drawn and sullen. Urenma told him which part of the forest to hunt in and assured him the gods could watch over him and that she would also be watching over him. When Obinze stood to leave she began to cry bitterly, no one had seen her cry like that before. Even her parents came out to console her, but she would not stop crying nor would she tell anyone the reason for her cry. To make her stop crying, Obinze decided not to take part in the hunting festival. However later in the night, Urenma persuaded him to enter the forest; she wanted him to be the best in all things. Already she had helped him acquire cows, goats, sheep and chicken and had commanded his lands to yield large produce to him. In all things Obinze was prospering and all could see it. When Obinze saw that she was determined to have him go hunt, he took off hunting implements and entered the forest. Before he left, she kissed him so passionately and for long that Obinze wondered if she was going to let him go eventually.

    When Obinze arrived at the forest he went to the part Urenma had told him to hunt. However unknown to Obinze, a few men had conspired to kill him in the forest so to stop him from claiming the best hunter trophy. For three days they watched him killing huge game after another. He killed Antelopes, Boars and two Lions and for a show threw in a corcodile into the mix.

    In the evening he would cut the animals open, make fire and roast them to keep them from getting rotten. His plan was to raise very early on the fourth day and go into the village to get some young men who would help him carry his kills to the village square. That morning he applied salt on the animals he had roasted whole and covered them with leaves and left for the village. On his way six hunters whom he knew very well attacked him with razor sharp machetes. He was not expecting no resistance, his heart was filled with joy, he knew no one would come close to matching the size of the games he had killed; they were too large to be true. From behind him he was attacked, he had heard nothing or seen anything suspicious, all he felt was pain as machetes cut into his back. He turned to face them and could only lump off two heads before blows from the machetes of the other four hunters sent him to the ground. They must have stabbed him a hundred times to make sure he was dead. They took his body and left it where animals would see it to feed on it and went to share his kills amongst themselves.

    While they cast lot to know who would take each of Obinze kills, Urenma came like a crowd of light and overshadowed Obinze. Life returned to his body and he stood to his feet healed. He took his machete and ran to meet with his killers. They were happily laughing when they heard footsteps coming behind and turned to see who it was.

    There he was, looking like he had not tasted death before. They were terrified; Obinze moved swiftly giving them no chance, one after another he lumped off their heads. When he was done he cast their bodies into a swamp and went into the village to get people to help him carry his kills to the village square.

    Chapter 11


    By mid-day, when all hunters had returned from the forest, the six hunters who had attacked Obinze were missing. A search party of young warriors was sent into the forest of Ukeh to find them. Obinze did not reveal to any one what had happened in the forest and neither did he understand how he was able to come back to life after he was killed. He was certain he had seen Urenma in the cloud of light and shining like the sun. In her appearance she looked every inch like a goddess. To Obinze that was just one too many of the mysterous things he had seen about Urenma and this time he was determined to find out from her who she really was. After the hunters had made their kills ready, the elders began to inspect them. The inspection was a mere waste of time, Obinze’s kills were huge and far more than those of his fellows hunters. Before the elders were done inspecting the kills each hunter made, the crowd already begun to sing Obinze’s name. When the elders were done, Obinze was announced the winner of the hunting championship. The next day a feast began as the games killed by the hunters were used by their clans to prepare meals. When the search party sent to look for the missing hunters returned, they sadly reported that they found no sign of them. The festival continued without them, there was too much celebration to mourn their demise at that time. While the people of Ukeh celebrated, Obinze took the woman of his love, Urenma, to his new set of private huts, which he had build in readiness for their imminent wedding. His intention was to find out from her who she really was and why she had not allowed him to pay her dowry so they could begin to live as husband and wife.

    It was in Obinze’s hut that Urenma tearfully revealed who she was. Obinze was in no way ready for the things he heard that day. “Obi m I can do the things you observed because I am not actually human”. “What exactly does that mean?” “Obi m, I am a child of the gods. I am from the river world, and that is not all, I am a princess of the gods”. As soon as she mentioned the part of her being a princess of the gods, her hair came alive and began to burn like flames and her body the cloth around her chest and waist began to dazzle with light. Even the tears from her eyes glowed like lamp lights. She wept and told Obinze, “Obi m this is who I am. I can’t hide it from you anymore. My love for you has my heart to shreds. I have found that which my soul loves and yet I can’t have it. My time amongst men draws closer to its end and yet I want to live with you forever!” Obinze was in total shock, he could not believe his eyes or the things which his ears heard. “How were you able to survive the test at the river, or did your parents hide you from the oracle? The river should have claimed you when you were thrown into it”. “Like I said, I am a princess of the gods. I am a deity. I was sent to dwell amongst your people on my request for a while; for this reason the river could not claim me. But Obinze my time is running out. Soon the gods will summon me to the river world”.

    Obinze held her hand and began to cry. “I don’t want to lose you Urenma. Can’t you ask the gods for a little more time? Please for the love that we share ask them to give you more time”. “Obi m I can ask them for a more time, but it will only break our hearts” “How can it? With much more time, I will marry you and we can make babies. We would at least have more time to spend together!”

    Chapter 12


    “Obi m before I met you, I thought that being a princess of the gods was a great thing, but right now I no longer wish to be a princess of the gods. I only want to be your wife and love you till my life fades”. “Then ask the gods for more time” “As a princess of the gods, I am forbidden to marry any mortal man. I cannot marry you Obinze”. Obinze felt his heart explode with pain when he heard Urenma tell him she would not marry him. “Now you know the reason I have been a sad woman for weeks. I am permitted by the gods to love a man and yet not to marry him. Oh! How I wish I was born a mere woman”. Obinze was so shocked that he went numb. Right before his eyes his world came crashing. All he could manage to ask Urenma was, “How much time do you have before the gods summon you?” “A year and six months”. “Then we will make it the best period of time you spent amongst mortals. When I go hunt you shall go with me and when I go to farm we shall sit together under moonlight and tell ourselves how much we love each other. The gods may deny us marriage but they can’t deny us love”. “But Obi m, what if people begin to wonder why we refuse to get married, how shall we answer them?” “Don’t worry about that, when you are caught in the arms of love, you won’t worry about what people are saying”.

    And so Urenma and Obinze began to live and love each other like they had planned. Okeke and Ngbankwo tired all they could to persuade their daugjter and Obinze to marry, but they gave no heed to them. The villagers and those in lands afar off wondered and gussed as to why their long awiated wedding would not take place. One night when the love in Urenma’s heart had grown to such a height as she could no longer resist giving Obinze her body, she went to the river world to strike a deal with the elder gods.

    Before the gods she made her plea, “It is said amongst us that the gods can do no wrong; but having lived as a mortal woman in over seventeen years, I have seen far too many wrongs committed by the gods. None of you here has lived a mortal life and so cannot tell what it means to fall in love. You sent me to dwell amongst mortal by my request and gave me permission to love and yet would not allow me to marry the man I love. This in the sight of a young mortal woman I have been all these years is cruelty. Now I know why mortals blaspheme gods and we in our egos destroy them. Oh elder gods! I demand to know, what shall it cost me to marry the man whom I love?” “If you marry him in rebellion, he shall be destroyed the moment he uncovers your nakedness, and you shall be stripped of your powers and shall roam the forest until you die”, declared the head of the elder gods. “Is there no way I can marry this man and not incur the wrath or curse of the gods?”

    There was silence in the room for what seemed eternity. Eventually one elder spoke up. “There is a possibility you can marry the man you love, but the conditions are grave”. “Tell me the conditions and I will fulfill them”. “If the gods grant you permission to marry the man whom you love, your powers shall not be taken from you as a princess of the gods, but you shall in no condition use them as a princess of the gods in the world you now dwell as a mortal being. In the case you fail to abide by this one condition, you shall be cursed to roam the forest and to devour the flesh of men until death meets you or until your head is removed and thrown into Nwangele River. As for your position as a princess, it is eternal, it shall never be taken from you”, announced the second elder god.

    Chapter 13


    “The condition is grave, my lords. Why can’t you strip me of my powers and thereby take this curse far from me?” “You are the first princess of the gods to dwell amongst men and as it is you will be the first princess of the gods to marry a mortal man, the bars must be set so high so other younger princesses will not follow your example. If you truly love your man as you claim, accept our condition and leave, a life awaits you in the land of men”, said the head of the elders gods. Urenma knelt down and declared. “I accept your condition. I agree to never use my power as a princess of the gods under any condition while married to a mortal man!” All the elder gods, the twenty of them, stood up and declared, “You can marry the mortal whom you love and bear him children; you have our permission!” Urenma stood to her feet and fled the scene. She had no time for pleasantries; she wanted to return immediately and begin her wedding plans. When she woke up on her mat from her journey to the river world, she was over joyed. She wanted to dash out immediately to Obinze’s house to break the news that she would after all be getting married to him, but then she remembered that it was too early. If someone or anything attacked her on her way, she would not want to use her powers. She wanted to learn to live without making use of her powers. Life without making use of her powers would be strange and she wanted to get a hang of it; so she waited till dawn. Before she told her parents, she dashed down to Obinze’s house and broke the news to him. Obinze didn’t care what Urenma traded with the gods to get their permission for them to marry. He was getting married to the woman of his love and that was what matters.

    A few weeks later their wedding was announced, and on the wedding day many people came to celebrate with them. Okeke and Ngbankwo slaughtered cows and prepared foods. Obinze who had become wealthy as well slaughtered cows and made sumptuous meals for his guest. The display of the wealth in the wedding and the kind of personalities who graced their wedding had not been seen before. Long after the wedding, tales of it still resonated in Ukeh and the lands around it.

    Not so long after their wedding, Obinze and Urenma had two children, a boy and a girl. They were a happy home and the envy of many people. They had everything they needed and much more. However about six years into their marriage, Obinze’s wealth began to diminish. His lands stopped yielding seeds abundantly; his cows, sheep, goats and chicken began to die like those of the others and Obinze could not explain why. When that had become a major source of worry to him, one night Urenma seeing how troubled he had become woke him up from sleep and explained it all to him. “All your wealth came from me as a princess of the gods. But since I chose my love for you over my princess position in the river world, we have to now live like ordinary people. The gods are slowly taking everything from us which came as a result of my position. I still have my power but I cannot use it to reverse this current trend. The gods are testing me to see if I will break the deal I made with them”.

    Having understood the situation Obinze promised Urenma that he would work harder to keep their wealth from completely diminishing. However, Urenma knew that his hard work would not change much. A few more years down the line, Obinze lost all his wealth and become as poor as he was before he met Urenma. His change of fortunes puzzled the land of Ukeh and all who knew him. Things got so bad that Urenma had to be going to her parents who were still rich to get what they would eat; and that was their saving grace. Okeke did as much as he could to save his daughter, son-in-law and their children from starving to death.

    Though Okeke went from one oracle to another to find out why his son-in-law suddenly fell into abject proverty, the truth was hidden from the oracles.

    Chapter 14


    Obinze did not for once let it bother him, he took solace in his ravishingly beautiful wife and children, and allowed tongues to wag as much as they wanted. Later rumor was heard about a tyrant who destroyed and annexed lands. It was said of the tyrant that no voodoo or weapon could stop him.

    People claimed that powerful and callous gods backed him up to create a new kingdom for them. At first the people of Ukeh and their neigbours scoffed and dismissed the rumor. But after two years, what they taught was a lie began to unfold in nearby communities.

    The tyrant who was called Ogidi was indeed ruthless; he slaughtered villages and castrated men. Oracles and medince men could not stop him, men and kings sought parleys with him but he refused; he preferred blood and slavery.

    When he heard of the tale of the beauty of Urenma, he desired her and set his eyes upon Ukeh to destroy its people and make it his own. By then Ukeh was filled with men and women who had fled the blood thristy tyrant to take refuge in it. When they heard Ogidi was coming, the people of Ukeh began to flee to lands they heard were safe. However most of the way to Ukeh had been cordoned off by the soldiers of Ogidi. In the light of imminnt death the men of Ukeh began to scheme ways to survive.

    When they heard Ogidi had a desire for Urenma, they offered to let him have her in exchange to leave their land alone. Ogidi accepted their terms, but it was all a deception. His plans was to take Urenma from them and then behead Obinze and all the elders before subjecting their village to slavery. Okeke being a wealthy man was made aware of the scheme of the elders and so ran to inform Urenma and Obinze.

    To buy them time, when the warriors sent to bring Urenma to Ogidi arrived at Obinze’s compound, Obinze welcomed them well and informed them that he knew why they had come. He actually offered them drinks and then sent them back to Ogidi with his offer, “Go back and tell Ogidi I will bring my wife to meet him at the square. Tell him that I will fight him for Urenma and Ukeh, if I defeat him he would then retreat from Ukeh and leave us alone and if he defeats me, my head and my wife shall be his to take. Tell him I am Obinze, the undefeated wrestler and champiom hunter in Ukeh land”. When Ogidi heard Obinze’s terms he laughed and asked if Obinze had not heard of him at all.

    Soon Obinze’s terms spread thoughtout the land and hope began to rise. Those who had seen him fight began to believe that perhaps Obinze would save them all. When Urenma heard of Obinze’s offer she went berserk. Obinze told her that he would rather die fighting than to watch a man take his wife and behead him. Urenma took Obinze into their hut and cut off a flock of her hair and tied it around his waist; right before Obinze eyes the flock of hair disappeared into his body and Urenma said to him, “Now you are like a god. This is the only way to defeat Ogidi. After this battle I do not know what the gods shall do to me. But whatever they to chose to do, I shall be glad that I lived by yourside, loved you and die for you. When I am gone remember to tell men that I die for love”. Having begun to use her power, Urenma raised a pillar of cloud around her parents and two children. Her parents were stunned to see what their daughter could do. They couldn’t say a word; it was as if the power of speech were taken away from them. She drew close and whispered to her parents, “Now you know who I am. I am of the gods”.

    After she had put her parents and children in the protective pillar she called Obinze and announced, “I have hidden my identity for long, now Ukeh and those who seek her downfall shall who I am. I am one of the gods! I will fight by yourside my love!”

    Chapter 15


    Obinze took two sharp blades from his collection and gave one to his wife and they left for the village square where a mammoth crowd had gathered. Obinze and Urenma did not walk like lovers into the square. No, they ran like warriors; and when they entered the village square they raised a battle cry. Ogidi and his army were expecting a frightened man and his beautiful wife, but what met him was way beyond all he had witnessed in all the lands he had conquered. Some of Ogidi’s warriors who stood at the entrance to the village square were the first to taste the venom of the couple. Obinze and Urenma took their heads with some swift movement of their blades never seen before. When Obinze ran into the square he raised one of the heads he had chopped off and yelled, “War!!!!!!!!!” and made for Ogidi. There was no negotiation to it or pleading; Ogidi had brought war to Ukeh, a man and his wife would make sure he got exactly that. It was two against an army of seasoned warriors, but one of the two was a pure goddess and the other one an adopted god. Ogidi’s war men rallied around him to form a shield; but Obinze moved like the wind. Men saw heads falling off but did not see who was beheading them. Urenma had since gone into her spiritual nature, machetes were moving everywhere but no one saw her. Only her cry for blood was heard. In the light of what they saw, the men and women of Ukeh took arms and joined the battle. When those who were hiding in the forests and bushes heard of what was happening at the village square, they took arms and ran into the battle. Even men in neighbouring towns joined the battle when they heard Obinze and his army was prevailing.

    Even though Ogidi was overwhelmed by what he saw and was losing his men rapidly to a growing army of men and women led by a local hunter and his wife, he made a stand. He summoned the gods that had been his back in all his battles, but it was then Ogidi knew what he was up against. Urenma left her spirit nature and appeared in the flesh and took stand by her husband and made a grand stand against Ogidi and the twelve gods he head summoned. When the battle was over Urenma had the twelve gods bound in chains and dragged them to Nwangele River and sunk them into it as a gift to the chief gods who had their kingdom in the river.

    Ogidi on his part was no match for Obinze. Obinze killed him in the most gruesome manner, taking off his arms and legs until all that was left was his trunk and head, and finally he lumped it off with a shout of victory.

    After he had killed Ogidi he ran to meet Urenma at the river. He was afraid that perhaps the river gods had made good their threat and afflicted her with a curse. Thankfully she was fine. Obinze and Urenma’s fame went far to lands they would never get to know. They became living legends and men called on Obinze to become the ruler of Ukeh and the other lands around having defended them in their time of great distress.

    Chapter 16


    It also became common knowledge that Urenma was a child of the gods. Men quickly contrived stories that Nwangele River had refused to take her back when she was born because the gods knew she would stand by her husband to defend the land. No one had remembered the curse of the gods against the children of the gods who defile the call of the gods to return home.

    Obinze and his wife everyday waited for the worst to happen. They knew Urenma had broken her deal with the gods and so would be punished. When the wait for the wrath of the gods to unleashed became interminable, Urenma and Obinze carried on with their lives. Once again, Obinze began to prosper, though Urenma did not use her power again to their advantage. He did not know what to put his prosperity to; people did not just bless him with gifts, his land began to produce abundantly again and his cows, goats, sheep and chickens began to increase. Then after Obinze had accepted to become the chief of Ukeh and the lands around it, Urenma woke up one morning feeling sick. Obinze feared for the worst, he knew something was wrong, a goodess should not be sick.

    Quickly Obinze began to look for help amongst medince men. All the portions they were given failed and Urenma’s condition worsened. One day when a medince man arrived to administer treatment to her she became overwhelmed with the urge to kill and tore the medince man apart; like a beast of the field she ripped him to pieces. Though she regained herself after that, Obinze felt he had lost his wife and began to cry morning, night and day. With time Urenma began to grow furs like a wild beast and her nails began to transform to talons. She still spoke like a human being and went about her domestic chores, but she feared that someday, she might turn on her family members and devour them. So she called Obinze and asked him to behead her and take it to Nwangele River, but the problem was that Obinze could not do it. He still had hope that the gods would have mercy and reverse the curse.

    One night Urenma was overcome by a desire to devour human flesh, so she attacked Obinze. Obinze survived only because he still had the flock of her hair in him. While Obinze held her down and was bleeding all over from her attack, she pleaded with him to take off her head.

    Seeing there was no other way to help her, Obinze drew his machete and with a heart wrenching cry beheaded her. That night he took her head down to Nwangele River and ended her misery. Urenma’s body was given a celebratory burial. After her burial, having lost his grandmother over the years, Obinze took his two children to Urenma’s parents, and set out to find a strong medince man that would help him cross over into the River world to demand that the River gods should return his wife to him; or he will fight them to get her back.

    Chapter 17


    For two years Obinze searched from land to land to find medince men who were powerful enough to help him cross into the river world. At this time fables were told of men like Ojadili who crossed the divide between the living and the dead, humans and spirits. Obinze’s journey led him to a medince man called Akputa, who made the wish which had eluded him seem a light thing. “I will help you get into the river world if that is what you seek. I have been there on many occasions in search of powers and to warn ogbanje children to stop coming back to their parents. I know the river world; it is full of power, full of pretty girls like the one whom you so seek to be given back to you. I must warn you it is also full of deception. Are you sure you want to go there young man?” “Yes I am!” “Then it will cost you ishi ezego iri” (Ten counts of Ezego-ancient currency). Obinze counted out the money and laid it on the floor. “Now strip yourself of all you have on you and bathe in that pool”.

    Hastily Obinze denuded himself of all he had on his body and entered a pool of green water. With zest Obinze began to bathe in the pool. Akputa made an observation as Obinze bathed himself. “The pool never gleams except a spirit appears in it. Who did you say you are?” Before Obinze could draw enough breath because of the greenish water which chocked his breath to answer to the question, Akputa drew a machete with a sharp jagged edge and sent a blow on Obinze’s back. A thick splash of blood exploded on the surface of the pool and Obinze sunk in. Akputa began to dance around the pool making some incantations and waiting for Obinze to resurface from under the pool, to Akputa Obinze was a rogue spirit sent to steal his powers.

    When the wait for Obinze to surface from under the pool seemed unending. Akputa threw some black powder into the pool and a little storm started in the pool and threw Obinze to the surface of the pool. He was lifeless and was bleeding a lot. “Alas! He bleeds like mortals and yet appears like a spirit in the pool. Who is this man?” wondered Akputa. With a wooden hook Akputa drew Obinze closer to himself and lifted him out of the pool. He ran to one of the earthen pots in his shrine and removed some black mixture, forced Obinze’s mouth open and squeezed some of it in. He moved back and waited still holding his machete. Obinze jolted back to consciousness with a shout and his eyes flaming. “Oh! I see you are mortal, but a part of you is joined to a goddess. She is the one whom you seek, lie in your face! I have to attend to your wound now! The machete I attacked you with is not meant for humans. Lie on your face! I have to attend to your wound lest in some minute’s time you change to a monster and begin to hunt my land for the flesh of both beasts and men!” Akputa’s words shocked Obinze, quickly he turned and lay on his face. Already he was beginning to feel some strange movement in his body and unusual strength surging from within him. Akputa look some herbs and put them into the deep wound on Obinze’s back. The pain was so much that Obinze wailed. “AAAAH! AAAAH!! AAAAH!!!” and passed out. In his voice Akputa could decipher the sound of the voice of the beast; Obinze was already turning. Hours passed and Obinze woke up only to see himself in chains and ropes and thick furs all over his body like a beast of the field.

    There was no sigh of Akputa in his shrine,with amazing force and strength Obinze trashed himself to snap the chains and ropes, but he couldn’t. He tried many times but failed to free himself. Hours passed and he began to feel weak and feel into sleep yet again. By night, he wasn’t sure if it was a dream or not, some beasts came, they stood on two feet like humans and had thick furs all over their bodies and had extremely long and sharp claws and also teeth like wolves and surrounded him in Akputa’s shrine. He could tell what they had come for. Though they spoke no word, he could tell their thoughts. Shockingly his mind had become one with theirs. With amazing speed the beasts began to rip Obinze’s flesh apart. He wailed in pain and cried out to Akputa for help, but there was no sign of him.

    In the river world Akputa sat with a few elder gods communing in secret tongues, “A man has come to me, asking to be crossed over into the river world. He intends to come and demand that Urenma be returned to him as wife”, said Akputa.

    Chapter 18


    “Where is this man now?” asked elder god Nshaa. “He is chained in my shrine. He has turned into a beast”. “Why did you turn him to a beast?” “The man is a mystery…… I have not seen his likes before. He carries within him a part of princess Urenma. So when I saw the sign in my pool, I attacked him with Ndana. My medince couldn’t heal him before he turned into one of the cursed beasts”. “Go back and send him to us as he is. We have a use for him in his present condition”. Immediately Akputa left for the world of men. When he left the gods continued to commune, “Now Urenma’s heart shall no longer go after her mortal husband when she sees him as a cursed beast. This brings her forbidden longing to an end”, said Nshaa.

    By morning Akputa emerged from his pool of green water and to his greatest shock saw Obinze completely healed from his beastly nature. Around the shrine were heads, limbs and different body parts of the beasts that had attacked him in the night. In shock Akputa asked, “What are you? When I left you for the river world you had turned into a cursed beast. Please tell me what are you and what are these things in my shrine?”

    “My name is Obinze; back where I came from I am a legend. I want you to send me to the river world now”. “Yes I will. But first you will move back into the pool. When you take some portions which I will give you, you will sink into the pool. I will bring you up and lay your body on that Nkpoko (Native bed/ bench made with raffia tree branches). For safety purpose I will cover your body with opete leaves and other portions. I will lay your amour beside you, when you wake up in the river world, you will have them ready for battle”. “Shall we start now”, asked Obinze. “Yes get into the pool”. Obinze did and Akputa began to throw into the pool all sorts of powders till they formed a cloud on the pool. Akputa ran to one of his pots and brought out a portion and gave it to Obinze to eat. Obinze ate and sunk into the river. Akputa caused another storm in the pool and Obinze’s body floated to the surface. He took it and placed it on an Nkpoko. He applied opete leaves and many other mixtures on his body and lay his amour beside him. He ran outside and cut some fresh leaves and covered Obinze’s body with them. In the river world Obinze woke up, beside him were his machete, bow and arrows. For once since he beheaded Urenma, he felt the full strength of Urenma’s hairs all over his body. He picked his amour and sprang to his feet. The river world was an endless stretch of snow white water land filled with infernal creatures of different sorts, trees animals of the types he had not seen and houses which seemed as though they had life of their own.

    He felt small and lost in that vest world. Still rotted to his feet and wondering which direction to go, he heard a voice. “Hide a battle is upon you! Hide!” Obinze ran behind a thick lush green plants and hid himself. The plant spread wide its branches amd s----d him in like an octopus.

    Within the plant more than a hundred eyes flicked open and began to glare at him. From within them a monster voice spoke very fast. “You are not from this world! Are you?” “No, I am not. I am from the world of men………”. “Where people fall in love right?” “Yes, where people fall in love”.

    The harshed monster voice changed to a tender voice, “The children of the gods have told us a lot about your world. They have beautiful tales about love in your world…” “I am in your world because of my love. My wife is a child of the gods and was taken from me because she loved me and shown kindness to my people. I want her back”. “I see, men don’t come here often seeking to be given one of our beautiful damsels to them as wife. Look up….”

    Obinze looked up and saw six strong men, whose handsome looks cannot be described by human words holding long, giant machetes. The plant continued, “……they have come for you. I cannot protect you from them and no one in this river world can. But I will give you a secret, you will have to fight and fight till the elder gods sit and ask you what you want. If you are thinking of negotiating with the elder gods you will die here. When Ojadili was here, he fought the gods to a submission. They had to ask him what his mission was. You will have to do the same”.

    Without much ado, the plant threw Obinze out of its cover and shouted, “Here is the stranger whom you seek! Kill him!”
    The six spirit warriors bore down on Obinze violently…………

    Chapter 19


    FLASHBACK: THE MOMENT OBINZE LANDED IN THE RIVER WORLD
    The elder gods were in a meeting discussing how to present to Urenma the calamity which befall Obinze. They wanted her continued desire to see him permanently destroyed. They knew Obinze was going to be sent to them as a cursed flesh eating creature, their intention was that Akputa was going to sent Obinze to them as a cursed flesh eating creature; their intention was to present him in that form to Urenma before destroying him. While the meeting went on, a monitoring serpent spirit barged into their meeting and announced “The mortal whom you spoke of my lords, is here, but has not arrived in the form you mentioned. He has come in his form as a whole and complete mortal man. He is no beast at all!” “Then kill him!!!! Send the six guards! Bring me his head here!” Nshaa yelled. The monitoring serpent spirit slithered off with haste to go deliver the command to the six spirit warriors. Nshaa turned to a very high ranking elder god and barked, “Find Urenma, subdue her and keep her under lock before she get a wind of the intruder’s presence”. To a high ranking guard of the river world, Nshaa ordered “I will not have another Ojadili on my lands, now go and close the portal which allowed the mortal into our world.. Here and today, Obinze dies!”

    FLASH-FORWARD: THE BATTLE-OBINZE AND THE SIX SPIRIT WARRIORS.
    The six spirit warriors were in motion descending towards Obinze. Obinze laid down his arms and shouted, “I have no desire for battle! I have only come to speak with the elder gods to release my wife to me!” The six spirit warriors swung their machetes toward his head, the plant which he had confided in picked Obinze’s machete and raised it above his head. The machetes of the six warriors spirits crashed upon Obinze’s machete and the spirits bounced back. Obinze machete fell next to him. The plant yelled at him “Fool! Fight now or you die here!” The plant sent a wooden shield toward him and Obinze picked it and his machete and poised to duel with the six spirit warriors. The machetes of the six spirit came swinging toward Obinze yet again; he raised the wooden shield to protect himself. The machetes of the six spirits landed on the shield and shattered it and sliced into his shoulders and sent him to the ground violently. The six spirits standing over to sever his head, Obinze was forced to swing his machete at them. His blow sent them back. They were surprised and said to one another with one voice. “He is not entirely human!” They dropped their machetes and transformed into six saber-toothed monsters.

    Obinze was scared and took off in no certain direction. After running for a while he turned to see if he had escaped the six sabre-toothed monsters. Behind him there was no sign of them. He saw a huge black rock and ran toward it to hide. As soon as he squatted behind the rock a heavy foot gave him a bloody kick to the face and sent him flying into the air. Obinze did well to hold on to his machete. When he landed on the ground the six sabre-toothed monsters sprang on him. Obinze was purely acting on instinct, the moment he saw them, he rolled on the ground and swing his machete at them. His machete caught the monster in front on the shoulder and sent it crushing above him. The other five landed on him and began to dig their claws into his flesh, yanking off chunks of bloody flesh. One of the monsters opened its humongous mouth, filled with a set of heart-stopping teeth, and tried to force Obinze’s head into it. The monsters teeth left deep layers of cut on Obinze’s head. Yelling in pain, Obinze began to stab and swing his machete at them insanely.

    As soon as he got a little space he jumped to his feet. While on the ground he found a secret, a little effort in the river world had released a lot of energy. With that in mind he decided to make a stand and fight. As the six sabre-toothed monsters regrouped, Obinze raised a cry and ran toward them. The six sabre-toothed monters were surprised and came for him nonetheless. One was limping, Obinze decided to target that one. When he drew closer to the wounded monster, he buried his machete into its heart and the monster went limp on the ground. Though it did not die, it could not rise to fight. At that moment Urenma’s hair in his body began to pulsate with great power. Obinze had taken the strength of a warrior spirit, that act elevated him to the rank of a war lord in the river world. The other five Sabre toothed monsters ground their charge to a halt when they saw the energy around Obinze’s body. As though he was under a surreal influence, Obinze charged at the five saber-toothed monsters, as he swung his machete at them, all he could remember was the day he and his wife took a bloody battle to Ogidi, his army and the twelve gods.

    Chapter 20


    When the battle was over, the five sabre-toothed monsters were all lying impotent on the ground and Obinze was badly lacerated. He was deeply torn open by the bits and claws of the five sabre-toothed monsters and yet he lived. As he looked himself over he knew he was no longer the Obinze who set out from Ukeh to bring back his wife; something had happened to him. It began the night some beasts came to tear him to shreds while he was himself a beast. He had not time to figure out what had happened to him because there was more battle to fight.

    Wondering what next to do, Obinze ran back to the plant he spoke to earlier, “I have put down the six spirit warriors. How do I find the elder gods? I want to demand they give me back my wife……….” “Human! You have succeeded in proving to the river world that you are dangerous. Now our world will throw its worst at you mortal man. Follow the sun; it will lead you to the elder gods”. “There are too many sunlights here, which of them do I follow?” “Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! It has begun! If you find the true sunlight you find your way out of the river world”. “I don’t want my way out of the river world; I want to meet with the elder gods”. The plant didn’t answer him; it simply disappeared into the ground. Obinze lifted his eyes to the sky and decided to follow the most beautiful sun in the river world sky. The sun was blue in colour and made the river world look more beautiful than it actually was. With much strength he ran as his flesh gradually began to close up. Everything Obinze saw in the river world was opposite to what he grew up to know or hear in the world of men. While he journeyed through the river world following the blue sun in the sky, he did not know he was heading toward the dungeon of rogue spirits……….

    FLASH-BACK: THE MOMENT OBINZE OVER CAME THE SIX SPIRIT WARRIORS

    “Obinze has shown himself a mighty man. But I don’t like this entertainment. I want emisseries sent to Akputa. Tell him to behead Obinze’s body and send it to us now!” demanded Nshaa. Immediately emissaries were sent to Akputa. When they arrived, Akputa was happy; he wanted to know how Obinze was faring in the river world. “Tell me, the mortal has not been captured, has he?” “He has subdued the six spirit warriors and for this reason, Nshaa has demanded you give us his head now”. “No! No!! No!!! This one is special, we just can’t kill him. The six spirit warriors will revive and live forever, but Obinze won’t if we kill him. I believe Ojidili has been reborn and no one knows it…..” “Shut up and give up his head!” Akputa drew his jagged machete known as Ndana and attacked the spirits. From his mouth he dispelled disarming powder at them and forced them into his green water pool. The emissaries disappeared. Akputa went down to the ground in a heap and began to wail. He knew he was a dead man for what he had done. His head shall be pulled off his body by the spirits when they return. Because of his desire to understand Obinze whom he considered the reincarnation of Ojadili, he risked his life. Having little time to sorrow he ran and applied more protective charms on Obinze’s body, took the Ndana and made a stand beside Obinze’s body to fight whoever would come to behead his body…………..

    FLASH-FORWARD: OBINZE ON HIS WAY TO THE DUNGEON OF ROGUE SPIRITS

    Obinze was running past a tree when the tree bent down and took him up with one of its branches. Up in the tree every branch, twig and leaf was turned into a weapon against Obinze. Obinze could only swing his machete at every direction in the tree. The branches were too many and attacked him at the same time. On the ground a swarm of giant scorpions were rushing to climb up the tree, obinze didn’t want to still be on that tree when the scorpions come up. So he began to hack at the branches madly to cut himself loose. When the tree realized the man it had suspended amongst its branches won’t give up fighting, it tossed him at the giant scorpions on the ground. Obinze landed on one of them and plunged his machete into it. He continued to fight until he made a way for himself and bolted off deeper into the dreaded dungeon…………..

    Chapter 21


    FLASHBACK: WHEN THE EMISSARIES RETURNED
     “Akputa has rebelled aganist us my lords. He refused to give us Obinze’s head. We want to leave now to bring both their heads” “Hold on emissaries, Obinze might have some use after all. See, he heads into the dwelling of rogue spirits who help mortals violate our laws amongst men. They will attack him; let’s see how many he will destory before you bring me his head. Huh! Who did you say this man is? Is there any ancient prophecy concerning him?” asked Nshaa “There is none my lord, but there is a blood covenant over his life”, replied an elder montitoing spirit “Who made the covenant and with whom?” asked Nshaa “His parents made the covenant with the gods”, replied the monitoring spirit “I remember now, I have no intention to honour that covenant in full. Obinze must die here!” barked Nshaa

    FLASHFORWARD: OBINZE ENGAGES ROGUE SPIRITS
    Obinze could tell there was something different about the spirits he was locked in a battle with. Some of them were not just trying to fight him; rather they were trying to take possession of his spirit body. Instead of fighting Obinze saw himself resisting those spirits which were forcing their way into his spirit body. After some hours of battling them, they overpowered Obinze and took possession of his spirit body in their thousands. The energy they generated inside of him made him to collapse. When he woke up he did everything the rogue spirits which were inside him desired. If they desire to eat filth, Obinze ate filth. When they spoke to him at the same time, Obinze would run mad and smash his head against the rocks. He would often attack himself with his machete to force out the spirits. For weeks Obinze remained in this condition and the elder gods watched him patiently.

    FLASHBACK: URENMA’S PRISON
    In a mammoth cage Urenma lay wondering what she had done for the gods to subdue her powers and lock her up in a cage. An ugly friendly fish swam past her cage and she called at it. “Obojoro!” Obojoro swam back to Urenma. “Oh my princess! Why calledst thou me?” asked Obojoro. “Tell me my friend, what is my sin that the lords have my powers subdued and locked me in this cage?” “The man whom thou lovest has brought war to our world. He fightest bravely and many spirits he subdueth. The six spirits warriors have the strength of his blade felt”. “I understand not your meaning oh fish. Of whom calledst though the man whom I love?” “Obinze the man thou lovest in Ukeh land has come into our world and fightest bravely. But now the rogue spirits have possessed him and maketh him mad!!!” “Obinze in the river world. No! This canst not happen Obojoro!”
    “My lady it happenest even as I speaketh. The world around is that he comest to take thee back to his world”. Urenma let out a cry. It rattled the cage and Obojoro took cover. The sound of her cry shook much in the river world.
    The elder gods and the rogue spirits both heard her. A mighty army of princesses were under her and many people. Princes who have lived in Ukeh loved her. If she would call for help there were many who would come to her aid. Nshaa knew this and immediately he heard her cry sent warriors spirits to guard her cage. On the floor of the cage Urenma lay and began to search for Obinze with her mind. Her power have been subdued, this was the much she could do.

    FLASHFORWARD: THE DUNGEON OF ROGUE SPIRITS

    Obinze was on the floor eating rubbish as the spirits in him commanded. Suddenly he felt a warmth familar presence and so stopped feeding into his mouth the rubbish on the ground. In his mind he saw Urenma and her voice commanded him “Arise!” Obinze sprang from his feet and t----t himself like an arrow against the wall of the dungeon. The voice yelled again “Arise!” inspite of himself, Obinze threw his body once again against the wall of the dungeon. By this time the voice yelled “Arise!” the third time, the command made meaning to the insane Obinze. Urenma’s hair in him began to come alive again and the rogue spirits in him took flight. The elder gods stood in awe from where they watched. For fractions of seconds the river world stood still to watch what Obinze might do. Picking his machete with which he had been cutting himself for weeks, he threw himself at the horde of rogue spirits which had assembled to fight against him.
    Legends had been told of men and women who were inspired by love to do the impossible, that day the river world beheld a legendary tale of its own displayed before them all-a mortal inspired by the love of his wife, a goddess of the river world, raised his machete against an army of rogue spirits and hacked them down. When they jumped on him to rip him apart. Urenma’s hair shot out of him like arrows and pierced them. After days of battling, the dungeon of rogue spirits was filled with torn and mangled spirits who could not stand Obinze. Obinze wanted to run deeper into the dungeon thinking he would see the elder gods in there.

    Chapter 22


    But then the voice spoke to him again “Turn back and go left!” Obinze turned and began to run to the direction. Having left the dungeon and met army of spirits. There was no need to ask them what they wanted; the plant had told him what he needed to do-battle the spirits until the gods ask you what you want

    Without delay Obinze engaged them in battle. After a long drawn battle where the spirits could not subdue Obinze, then the unthinkable happen-an army of rogue spirits matched out of their dungeon and took sides with Obinze. No one knew who summoned them or if Urenma made them a promise

    When Nshaa saw what was about to happen-a war with the rogue spirits was about to begin. He knew the war would destroy the balance in the river world. So Nshaa summoned the twenty elder gods and they decended on the battle ground and forced the rogue spirits back into their dungeon. But while they did that they heard UTEBE’S voice,a giant monster spirit. The battle had stirred him and when he stirs you must give him a fight. Nshaa and the twenty elder gods had not planned for things to go the way they turned out, so they finally asked Obinze what he wanted “I brought no war to your world; I only came to plead with you to release my wife,whom you took away from me even though you knew she died loving my people. I will pay any price you wish for me to pay for her to be returned to me or accomplish any task you set before me” “You have spoken well Obinze. And we the elder gods respect your wish. However it is not a bride price that you will pay, we spirits do not take that. We will give you a task. Which if you accomplish we will let you leave with Urenma” said Nshaa “What is the task? Tell me” Obinze asked bravely “You shall enter again into the dungeon of rogue spirits and subdue Utebe; he has stirred. When you accomplish this task we shall let you leave with Urenma”. Immediately he heard the task, Obinze bolted off into the dungeon of rogue spirits

    THE CONSPIRACY

    When the gods assembled in their chamber they summoned the emissiaries sent earlier to Akputa to go this time and bring Akputa and Obinze’s heads. Though Obinze did not know it,the elder gods were not willing by any stretch to give him Urenma even if he subdued Utebe. The elder gods didn’t want to hear any more of men who entered the spirit world and prevailed against the spirits. By all means they would make sure Obinze failed. The portal to the land of living would only be opened the moment Obinze died in the river world. When Obojoro learnt of the conspiracy of the elder gods,it took its greatest risk to go reveal it to Urenma. The guard did not expect a small fish like Obojoro to know much or cause any harm, so they did not stop it when it entered Urenma’s cage. “My princess the elder gods plot to behead the man thou lovest. Emissaries of death they have sent to the land of men to bring his head from his body lieth. Haste you must make to save him whom thou lovest” “Obojoro thy princess they have bound, and she knowest not how from here she shall be able to save him whom she lovest. Help me little one. If I escape from here, my power I shall gain back and a great battle I shall wage to save my love”
    “To help thee I am minded to do. But the consequences fearest I much my princess”
    “I am a princess of the gods, I have authority in this world. When my love I have saved and shown all what absured treachery against a mere mortal the elder gods commitheh, I shall speak for thy freedom and those spirits thou shall impore to help thee in my escape” “If though are sure that this shall beautifully end, then my help is hall give thee” “How desirest thou to set me free from here?” “Small I maybe, but I have friends in high places. The ground shall open under thee, when thou seeth it, thou shall fall into it and free thou shall be” “Thank you little one” “Thank me my princess when thou hast thy love saved”

    From Urenma’s cage Obojoro swam away hastitly. In short moment of time, an innumerable shoal of fish throunged Urenma’s cage. The spirit guards were overwhelmed by the army of fish which descended upon Urenma’s cage. Their company made a mighty dark cloud which covered and rattled Urenma’s cage. By the time they swam past Urenma’s cage, she was gone. All the guards saw inside her cage was a deep dark hole. Alarmed the spirit guards fled to report the happening to Nshaa.
    “What! No! This is not the time to let Urenma run loose. Summon the war men of the river world! From a wall of soldiers around the dungeon of rogue spirits. If Urenma so much as comes close to the dungeon seize her and if Obinze by a stroke of luck comes out of the dungeon kill him!”
    When Urenma was broken out of the cage,with great flight she made for Akputa’s shrine. When she arrived all she saw was Akputa’s body lying on the ground headless. There was no sign of Obinze’s body. When she heard voices which sounded to her like the voice of emissaries, she charged in that direction…

    Chapter 23


    THE DUNGEON OF ROGUE SPIRITS
    Obinze is standing before a monuntainous beast, Utebe. Before this monster being, Obinze looked like a thong of broom wielding a tooth pick for a weapon. He was courageous however, but his courage made rogue spirits to laugh so much they felt pity for Obinze. Bravely Obinze attacked Utebe, stabbing his machete into its body like he was puncturing a big sack with Tooth pick. Against the appearance of things, Obinze’s attacks caused Utebe a great deal of pain. His wail could be heard in the vast river world. Outside the dungeon, Nshaa, the elder gods and the war men of spirit world were puzzled as to how Obinze was able to cause Utebe the kind of pain that made him wail as he did. Believing he would come out of the dungeon alive they all took their battle position in wait for his re-emergence. On the other hand they eagerly waited for Urenma to show up, they knew she would. Back inside the dungeon Utebe was crushing everything in his sight in a bid to crush Obinze to death and stop the searing pain he caused it. But the more Utebe fought, it made itself an easy target for Obinze. Their battle raged on endlessly until Utebe went down on its knees and slowly, with a shout which shook the river world, collapsed on the ground. When Utebe collapsed to the ground, the unthinkable happened-Obinze slumped to the ground and began to bleed from the mouth and his neck. Something had happened to his body in Akputa’s shrine. The plant which spoke to him when he arrived in the river world broke the ground from under and took Obinze’s weakening body and went under..

    AKPUTA’S SHRINE
    Three spirits emissaries were standing over Obinze’s body and forcefully brushing their machete against his neck to sever it from his body. Obinze’s neck was bleeding profusely. After the emissaries killed Akputa, it took them hours to break the protective spells which Akputa had put on Obinze. The spell revealed one secret to them-Akputa was consulting rogue spirits without the knowledge of the elder gods. The protective spell he put over Obinze was the powerful dark work of the rogue spirits. Even after they broke the spell they still could not behead Obinze. They had to brush their machete against his skin. While Obinze’s body resisted them, Urenma broke out on the scene and tore the emissaries apart….

    OUTSIDE THE DUNGEON OF ROGUE SPIRITS
    Nshaa, the elder gods and the army of the river world were eagerly waiting for Obinze to come out. When Utebe shouted and collapsed on the ground, they knew Obinze had done the unbelievable. However when the wait for him to come out became unending, the elder gods sent their army into the dungeon to retrieve Obinze. Inside the dungeon, rogue spirits didn’t like the elder gods sending their fighting spirits into a place they considered their own ground and so a battle broke out. The elder gods were going to win and subdue rogue spirits like they had done for ageless time, but the battle was what Obinze needed. Under the ground, the plant which had taken Obinze’s body and Obojoro were pensively waiting for Urenma’s to revive Obinze’s body in the world of men so his spirit could wake in the river world…..

    AKPUTA’S SHRINE
    In Akputa’s shrine, Urenma had swiftly subdued the emissaries by tearing them to shreds. They would find their lives again in the river world, but they would not dare stand before her in battle. With the herbs in Akputa’s shrine and her own power, Urenma revived Obinze’s body and stopped the bleeding. She raised over Obinze the same protective cloud she raised over her children and her parents when Ogidi came with his war men to Ukeh. Having made sure Obinze was safe she jumped into Akputa’s green water pool. However when she left a set of monstrous eyes flicked open from the ground. Urenma did not see it nor did she feel its presence. The spirit was form another kingdom; a powerful, wicked enemy of Urenma and her people. A voice had summoned it to Akputa’s shrine where Obinze’s body lay..

    THE RIVER WORLD
    In the river world a blast was heard. The elder gods knew what it meant; Urenma had re-opened the sealed portal to the world of men. Inside the dungeon as battle raged between rogue spirits and the army of the elder gods, the plant deposited a revived Obinze back on the surface of the ground. Obinze didn’t need an invitation to join the battle. As soon as he jumped up from the ground he began to attack every spirit he saw around him. When the army of elder gods spotted him, they pressed against him. Obinze was not fazed; he made a stand and pressed back against them. Because rogue spirits hated everything the gods stood for, they raised a cry to help Obinze and joined him to press against the army of elder gods until they pushed them out of the dungeon. When Urenma saw a swarm of fighting spirits against Obinze, she called for help.

    A mighty army of ruthless and angry princesses, descended on the battle ground.

    Chapter 24


    When the elder gods saw that the event which they had for ageless time been trying to stop was about to begin, they swung into the battle and brought the whole madness to a halt. Without much ado,Nshaa demanded that Obinze remove himself from the river world. To his suprise Obinze dug his heels in and demanded that Urenma be given to him, having fulfilled the task which was given to him. However Nshaa snarled “The gift I will let you leave here with is your head still on your shoulders. The gods are done allowing mortals marry their princesses! Leave now or die!” From the crowd a voice echoed “If you as a god will not honor your word. I as a princess will no longer honor my place as a princess of the gods! I shall fight beside the mortal until his wish you grant! Who is on my side?”

    The army of angry and ruthless princesses moved toward Urenma and shouted “By yourside we shall fight till we be subdued!” Nshaa and the elder gods didn’t like that. They alone could subdue Urenma and the spirits who had decided to rebel against them. But a battle against the children of the gods would come at a great cost,so the elder gods decided to sit and make a decision on the fate of Urenma and Obinze. For three days the gods communed over how to proceed concerning the mortal Obinze who was bent on taking their princess back to the world of men as wife. After their deliberations they decided that having made Obinze a promise that if he fulfilled the task given to him, he would be allowed to leave with Urenma; they announced that they would allow Obinze and Urenma live yet again as husband and wife. This time they would allow her live a full life time,die as mortal and then return to the river world to resume her duties as the princess of the gods. When the decision of the gods were announced, the princesses went into celebrations and the previous war scenes were replaced with joyful revelries. The gods had acted in wisdom and avoided a battle which would have destroyed the river world. Obinze and Urenma were overjoyed. Obinze couldn’t wait to leave the river world with Urenma,but there were procedures to follow. Urenma had a body which was still in a grave in Ukeh. The gods need to send thunder to exhume it and deposit it in Nwangele River before Urenma would retake that body and return to Ukeh. So Obinze was sent back to the world of men to go repossess his body and make preparations for the return of his wife

    AKPUTA’S SHRINE

    When Obinze woke up in his body from the journey to the river world, a mountainous being was standing next to him. There was nothing like it which Obinze had seen before, not even Utebe looked as monstrous and dangerous as the beast he saw in Akputa’s shrine. Obinze tried to shake of the fear which seized his heart but could not. It was as if a palpable cloud of fear literally enveloped him. Not even in the river world did he feel anything like it. In the beast’s hand was a machete which glistened in the sunlight. The entire length of the blade was longer than Obinze’s height. Obinze thought how in the world he would be able to stand the creature in a fight. The beast took two steps backward as if inviting Obinze to a fight; Obinze tried to stand up but could not. Just then the monster raised its left hand to the sky and said “I am from the kingdom above, a voice summoned me to this place. Take this..” when he said that; Obinze stood up and took a few steps towards him as if the voice of the creature controlled him “In the day your strength shall fail you OBIAKO OBINZE shall be remembered. When you get home give him this” the monster continued. Obinze stretched forth his hand the beast dropped a small wooden ring. Continuing the monster said “The covenant has been broken by they that dwell in the water; but in that day, they that dwell above shall come”. Raising its two hands to the sky, the beast shut itself into the clould like a scud missile and the cloud covered it. Immediately Obinze snapped out of the fear which overwhelmed him

    UKEH LAND

    It had been a long time since anyone heard from Obinze. There was no word if he was alive or dead. But weeks before his shocking return to Ukeh, there was a mighty rain and thunderstorm, the thunder strikes the people of Ukeh saw that day were unlike any they had known in their history. In the midst of the thunder strikes, Urenma’s grave was smashed wide open and her bones removed. Okeke and Ngbankwo,Urenma’s mortal parents began to go from one medince man to another to know the meaning of Urenma’s bones being removed from her grave by thunder strikes. The meaning wes too dark and hidden from the medince men.
    Meanwhile Obinze’s son Obiakor had begun to act like his father Obinze. In his tender age he had begun to hunt and wrestle. Many medince men & soothsayers predicted that he shall be greater than his father. Obiako was not just loved and respected, he was feared. Olachi, Obiakor’s sister made Urenma look ugly in her beauty.

    Chapter 25


    The entire land of Ukeh knew that someday the two children would achieve greater things than their parents. But in the meantime they were awed by the thunderstorm which removed Urenma’s bones from her grave.

    On a certain eke market day, the sound of music was heard heading toward Ukeh and a large crowd followed a man. Ukeh did not know what the celebration was for. Obinze had drawn a crowd to himself as he passed through villages on his way to Ukeh. The legend who saved their lands when Ogidi came and had gone to the lands of the spirit to bring back his wife was on his back home. When Obinze and the entoutage which followed him drew near to the eke market, people came out to see what the sound of music was for; and there in the midst of overly excited men and women was Obinze. The effect of Obinze’s return was beyond words. In Ukeh and the lands around it, a big celebration began. To impress Obinze young men came to wrestle at the village square. Foods and drinks were made available by the rich men of Ukeh and the villages around them.

    When Obinze had peeled himself away from the people who swarmed around him, he blocked off time for his children and Urenma’s parents. They were the only ones he told the details of his journey to the river world; however he did not tell them about the beast from the sky and the small wooden ring. “In a few days Urenma shall return. In battles I won her hand in marriage”. Ngbankwo and Okeke were filled with joy. They didn’t mind her being a goddess; she was their daughter for all they cared. Obiakor and Olachi cried in excitement that their mother was coming back. When Ngbankwo and Okeke left to attend to their increasing guest, Obiakor and Olachi jumped on Obinze and wouldn’t let go of him. In between some hunter with his father. Obiakor would pinch him to know if he was still human. “Papa you mean you fought against spirits and beat them” quizzed Obiakor “Yes I fought them and many for that matter. I also beheld the gods, my eyes saw them. I have some friends there now”. “You do?” asked Olachi “Yes Ola, a plant and a fish. They helped me in my most challenging time. And when your mother was imprisoned in a cage, the fish helped her”. “What! They put my mother in a cage! Which of the spirits did that?” asked Obiakor “The gods”, “I see; someday I shall go there to take a wife and the gods shall tell me why they put my mother in a cage”, boasted Obiakor “Obiakor, the river world is not a place you want to go. If not for love, I wouldn’t have gone there” “Papa you have just returned, soon you will hear of me. I am ome ka nna ya(a son who behaves like his father). Everything you have done so far I shall do and much more”. “I see your grandmother has been feeding you stories”. “Even me papa, a prince shall come from the river world to marry me” said Olachi. “So Ola, you will go to live in the river world?” “No, the prince shall live here in Ukeh with me”.

    “I can see that you two have planned your future already. I have to leave now to go and speak with the elders, in a few days your mother shall return”. Obinze’s children grudgingly let him go. When he sat with the elders, Obinze told them the much he could and explained the thunderstorm, “That was the gods preparing to return my wife Urenma. In a few days she shall be with us”. “When she returns, we shall give her a great feast. And also the post you left as the chief of all the lands around us is still waiting for you” responded the elders “I have no desire for that position now; I have missed my family for long, maybe when my wife returns, we will discuss if I should take it again”. And so the preparations were made in readiness to welcome her.

    Days and weeks passed and there was no sign of Urenma, Obinze began to wonder if the gods had beguiled him and locked his wife in a cage again. To make matters worse, Akputa, the medince man who helped him cross into the river world was dead. To say the least, Obinze was worried; however when people asked him about Urenma’s return, he would answer cheerfully that she would soon be with them.
    Sick and tried of waiting for their mother to return, one early morning, Obiakor and Olachi set to Nwangele River to demand that the gods return their mother to them. When they reached the river, Obiakor was the first to speak “Hear me ye spirits under this river, your sin of refusing to release my mother to her family and that of putting her in a cage, are amongst many sins whose consequences you shall bear. I shall find a way into the river world in this life or in another, and when I leave, there shall be no river world. I am OBIAKOR OBINZE, the son of a goddess and a warrior who fought spirits and prevailed. I am not like my father! I am half human and a half spirit and this you know well! I demand that this day you release Urenma my mother or wait for my wrath!” Obiakor cast some local currency into the river and stepped aside for his sister to address the gods in Nwangele

    Chapter 26


    “I am Olachi the daughter of Obinze and Urenma the princess of the gods! My brother has spoken well. When he makes his match upon the river world, I shall be by his side! Don’t forget I am also half human and half spirit!” she also cast some money into the river and they both turned to leave.

    Behind their backs, Nwangele River began to tumble and rage. The two children did not run, they made their stand; Obiakor drew his machete and Olachi pulled two small blades from her wrapper. They were too navie. They had not seen a battle before; neither did they know what it meant to fight in one. All they heard was their grand-mother’s tales about their father. They knew nothing about how spirits fought. However the two little children stood their ground and waited to fight whatever came out of the river. It was in their blood, it was their nature, and they would fight till death. On their feet they stood and their eyes strained on Nwangele River. The trees around shook as a mighty wind blew upon the river. From the river a slowing head with dazzling flock of hairs began to emerge. When they saw the creature in the river, Obiakor turned and looked at his sister. Together with a shout, they leapt into the air to descend upon the infernal creature which was coming out of the river. A hand glowing like the rest of its body came out of the river and suspendend the two child mid-air. They trashed all they could to break tree, but they were not match for what had crawled out of Nwangele River. When the whole figure emerged from the river, it was Urenma. She had returned. As she walked out of the river, Urenma lowered them to the ground.

    The two children did not recognize her immediately, but when she spoke her voiced struck a chord, “What are you two doing here?” Lifting their eyes in shock, they shouted and embraced her. “Ola we made it!” shouted Obiakor. “Yes we scared the gods mama is back!” responded Olachi. “Shut up you two!” Urenma shouted tenderly at her children. She continued, “The gods are angry at your words. They said I should warn you two or else they will afflict you with otolo (Diarrhea). Your words were actually too big for your ages; you shouldn’t use them next time. The gods rejected your money now you can have them back”. She gave them back their money. Obiakor and his sister were too excited to bother about what the gods thought, in spite of their mother’s warning, they believed it was their threat that made the gods release their mother.

    “We scared the river world mama!” Obiakor said excitedly. “We were ready to fight for your release mama!” Olachi added. From how they sounded, Urenma realized she would never convince them that their words amounted to nothing, so she decided to humour them, “When you spoke, the river gods trembled and crouched on their knees and begged me to return to the world of men before my children would destroy their world”.
    Her words made them go berserk with excitement. Olachi climbed her mother like a tree and hung herself on her back, while Obiakor held unto her right arm firmly. Joyfully the three walked back to the village. Urenma’s return was celebrated like a festival. Obinze was happy that his efforts were not in vain. The gods honoured their words and sent Urenma back to Ukeh. Ngbankwo and Okeke were happier than anyone to see their daughter return. Urenma no longer had any need to hide her true nature, everyone knew who she was and she was free to use her power. Urenma like her old self who wanted the best in all things for Obinze convinced him to take back the chieftaincy position which Ukeh and the lands around them offered him. Happily they lived until NTANI, a younger princess of the gods paid Urenma a visit………

    NTANI’S VISIT
     “There is a conspiracy by the gods to bring you back Urenma”, said Ntani. “But I have only arrived here”. “Yes, but Nshaa and the other elder gods do not like your stay amongst men. They hate it that a mortal man achieved heroies in their world and took their princess to his world. They seek his distruction and your return to the river world”. The gods were smarting over Obinze’s success against them, and to undo him they decided to send emissaries to Akama Oghe to exhume the bones of Ojadili, the greatest wrestler in igbo folklore. He fought against men and spirits and prevailed. No man or spirit could bring him down in a wrestling match. The gods in their secret chamber planned to bring him back amongst men.

    They would have him challenge Obinze in a wrestling match organized by the gods for Urenma to return to the river world. Their secret design was for Ojadili to kill Obinze. “Urenma this is the scheme of the elder gods and you cannot stand against them alone. You need us- the princesses of the gods. We will join forces with you and seek the help of other gods. You are not in Ojadili’s class; he will destroy Obinze and bring you back to the river world”.

    Chapter 27


    “Why are the elder gods after my joy and happiness? I won’t let them do this! I will stop them!” “Urenma, you will need help. Don’t forget that without charms Ojadili prevailed over men and spirits in wrestling matches, now imagine what he will do when an elder god possesses him in a wrestling match against Obinze”. “What! An elder god possessing Ojadili! That can’t happen!” “Urenma it is already happening”. “Ntani what is in this for you? Why are you helping me?” “I and the other princesses want what you have”. “And what is that?” “Love. Urenma you have love. We want to return as the children of the gods to love and be loved. We want to live like you”. “Oh my world! What have I done? The children of the gods want to return to Ukeh!” “Yes Urenma, we want to return”.

    THE GRAVE OF OJADILI
    To the grave of Ojadili, they journeyed. The amulets around their necks and waists jingled and jangeled in the silent night as their feet pounded the dusty earth. The tonji (Locally made lamp light) fastened on their foreheads illuminated the thick dark forest in which they meandered. Akama Oghe had gone to bed and rested peacefully at the time the men ventured out to the grave which held the remains of Ojadili. In their midst was one who was not human, his task was to bring back to the river world whatever remains of Ojadili they find in the grave. At the grave the native doctor amongst them hastily performed a ritual to appease the spirits that watched over Ojadili’s grave and the body in it. To disturb the grave and he who dwelt in it without due permission could have dire consequences, so they had to wait after the ritual had been offered. Beats of drum began to ring out from the thin air; it was the sound of Ikoro music, with the beat Ojadili graced wrestling grounds in his life time. As the beat grew louder, all the men including the one who was not human amongst them, broke into a jig. Their dance did not last for long before the grave which they had come to visit began to crack open and smokes so thick and dark that one could hold them begin to belch from it; something was coming out of the grave, perhaps the one they had come to visit had decided to meet his guests above his grave.

    Still dancing, the men watched the grave with keen insterest. Just then the grave caved in and a voice spoke to them, “Who disturbs Ojadili? When he wakes from his rest who can stand? Speak quickly before I demand a fight of you!” All the men stopped dancing abrupily and the native doctor amongst them cast a few pieces of Ezego into the grave and answered the voice, “Great one, a man has been born amongst mortals who holds no fear for spirits or for men. Like you he has journeyed to the spirit world, prevailed and taken a princess of the gods for a wife. The gods are threatening war with the mortals in Ukeh land where this man dwells. The gods in their magnanimity have thought it wise to awaken you to stop this man instead of wasting the land of Ukeh in their rage”.

    There was silence as the men waited for a rely. Then it came thoughtfully, “My time amongst men has passed. If another has been born amongst mortals who is like me then let times and seasons deal with him as they dealt with me. This man shall come to fade like I did”. “Great one, if no mortal, dead or alive, is found to fight this man, the gods shall be left with no option than to destroy him and punish Ukeh thereafter. Ukeh is a good land, in your life time you fought there many times and won fight for mothers and children who may be slaughtered if the gods choose to attack Ukeh. Fight to hear the name of Ojadili sung again by ecstatic mem, woman and children. Fight to relive your past glory. Ojadili fight to save a land from the ire of the gods! Great one, fight to destroy the man who fancies himself as the incarnation of Ojadili”.

    Chapter 28


    “Who is this man whom you speak of?” “He is Obinze the unrivaled wrestler in Ukeh and all the lands around it.

    There was yet another pause as the spirit of Ojadili weighed the tempting options which the glib-tongued medince man had dangled before him. “If I chose to fight again with which body shall I engage this man? The earth and worms therein, have eaten my flesh”. “The gods shall give you a body and you shall be possessed by one of the gods to engage Obinze in a fierce wrestling match to kill him!” “All I will need from the gods is a body; I will not need their help to destroy a boy who still bathes his tummy”. “Great one do I then take your words for a yes?” “Medince man, take my bones! Maybe it is fate that I shall fight once again from the dead”. The medince man and one of his aids jumped into Ojadili’s grave and began to dig ferociously to remove his remains. Ojadili’s bones were neatly gathered into a basket and given to the one who was not human amongst them and he left for the river world hastily.

    Towards the early hours of morning, just before the break of dawn, Obinze and his wife, Urenma, stirred from their sleep with fits of anxiety. Urenma shook herself and bolted outside their hut. Obinze opened an earthen jar on the floor of his hut and removed the wooden ring which the messenger from the sky gave to him. Walking briskly like a man who was about to go to war, he entered his children’s hut and woke Obiakor; leading him outside, they sat on a tree tunk which served as a bench in his compound. Above their heads the moon glowed in its full strength. “Obiakor the days ahead of us are dangerous and I cannot tell you what they hold in stock for us….” “Papa whatever the days shall bring, we already have enough to with stand it”. “Obiakor you often use big words that are older than your age. Have you seen a battle before? Have you wrestled beasts and taken human life at anytime Obiakor? The days ahead are dark and gloomy; they fill my heart with fear”. “Papa I may not have seen or tasted the things you listed, but every night I survive perils the sort mere mortals cannot with stand”. “What do you mean Obiakor?”
    “Every night in my dreams, beast from the underworld assail me to devour my flesh, but for once I have not feared them, with my bare hands I tear them to pieces”. “Why have you not mentioned this to me?” “Papa, if I let you fight my battles now, how shall I grow into a man?”
    “No they could have killed you! You should have told me about these attacks. I have to find out what they want”.

    Obiakor still boasting said to his father “They haven’t kill me and will never kill me! I have destroyed many of them but one. Even though I tear off his limbs and arms tonight, yet it refused to die. It did this to me”. Obiakor turned and under the light of the bright moon, his father saw a deep gash on his back. “This is no ordinary wound; now I know the beasts you have been fighting. I have fought them once”. Removing the wooden ring, Obinze held it in his son’s face and said, “A messenger from the sky gave this to me, he said that in the day my strength shall fail me, you shall be remembered. I believe the time has come for you to wear it”. Obiakor took the ring from his father and slid it on his ring finger and observed it for a while. Right before their eyes the ring began to glow and slowly disappeared into his finger. At that Obiakor hit the ground yelling in pain. As Obinze lifted him from the ground he saw Obiakor’s wound heal like no wound was ever there and Obiakor’s stopped crying. Turning around Obinze asked, “Where is your mother?” “I do not know”, replied Obiakor.

    Obinze ran into his hut and lit his tonji, with it he began to track her foot prints on the ground. As he followed her foot prints. It led him outside his compound and straight to the path which led to the market square. Behind Obinze, Obiakor tagged along hoping to join his father in the search of his mother.

    Turning around Obinze saw his son trotting toward him. He stopped and waited for him to draw closer, “Obiakor I want you to go back and stay with your sister Olachi, we can’t leave her alone in the house”. “Ola can take care of herself, I want to join you and find mama”, Obiakor protested. “No Obiakor! I want you to go back and be with your sister. I need you to do this now. You don’t have to bother about your mother and I, we can take care of ourselves”.
    Obiakor threw his father’s machete towards him; Obinze grabbed and jogged away. Obiakor staggered unhappily back into his father’s compound.

    Chapter 29


    Back in their hut he woke Olachi from sleep and told her of his suspicion that something might be wrong “So what do you want us to do now obi?” “I think we should use the bush path behind our house and rush down to the market square; mama did not go that way for nothing. I think the plot Ntani revealed to mama may have begun; the gods are up to some mischief again” “Aren’t we acting too paranoid here, after all papa went to the land of the spirits and beat them. I think we should put our faith in papa and mama to fix whatever this might be” “Ola, you haven’t been listening, have you? We are talking about Ojadili here! A man whom even the gods dread, Ntani told mama the gods have designs to wake him to fight papa, and believe me when I say this; the gods have woken him, or about to I feel it strongly. If he is the one mama want after then we should not be here expecting our parents to do just fine against them” Ola yelled “Aaaah! Ojadili is famous only because he hasn’t met us in a fight!” Groping in the dark she found her two blades and shot out of their hut like lightening. Obiakor had to race very fast to keep up with her

    At the market square, Obinze holding his machete firmly crouched in the bush as he inched closer to the spot where Urenma stood. Above her a swarm of glowing insects illuminated the market place. The fire insects were no ordinary insects, they were from the spirits world and had come to perform a ritual at the market pace. Their presence meant that a heinous ritual was being performed in the river world. She knew exactly what the ritual was about-Ojaidli was being reincarnated.

    With her hands akimbo and her face furrowed with rage, she starred at the congregation monster insects from the underworld. She knew she had to stop the insects, the gods had gone too far in their bid to return her to the river world and to save face from what Obinze did to them when he came fighting for her return to the land of men. Scooping some sand from the ground she blew her breath on it & the grains of sand shot into the air like an array of arrows shot from many bows. The insects hit the ground burning with flames. Urenma spat over them & said, “Go back to the gods and tell them that the princess of the gods herself stopped the ritual. Tell them I am waiting for them and their Ojadili” She turned to leave only ro see her husband, standing with his machete firmly grasped. The muscles of his arms and thighs contracted and pulsated. The look in his face clearly told of his disdain for the gods who sent the insects “Obi m calm down, not even a thousand Ojadili can stop this love which we have found, not in a million years. The gods have broken their pact with you and have drummed the beats of war; I hope for their sakes, they are ready to dance it”

    While the words were still in her mouth, Obiakor and Olachi stormed out of the woods, their blades gleaming in the light of the moon as their eyes darted about for enemies to hack down. Obinze was so filled with anger over the treachery of the gods that he spared not a word for his two children. Ola went to her mother & asked, “Where is the god-forsaken Ojadili?” “He comes, and soon he shall arrive”
    “Then we shall wait for him” Ola replied her mother stoically. The family returned home not saying one word to each other on their way back

    THE RESSURECTION
    Deep within the dark caverns of the river world, Nshaa and the gods he led worked their fingers sore to bring to life their gruesome scheme “If the snake fails to show its venom, the little children will use it to tie firewood! This day we bring to an end all legendary tales of men coming to our world to take out kind with their filthy heroics” Nshaa’s voice could be heard resonating through the walls of the caverns were they performed the ritual which was to bring to life the dead remains of Ojadili. Standing over Ojadili’s carcass was Atari, a ruthless god who for his wickedness was chained at the deep ends of the caverns by the council of the gods. In his blind hatred for love. Nshaa would break the vows of the gods and unleash Atari into Ojadili body to go destroy Obinze and all who would dare to stop his scheme to have Urenma returned to the river world as a princess of the gods.

    As the elder gods themselves made atrocious incantations with veiled faces, summoning the forbidden and dammed powers of the river world, Atari began to dissolve into the remains of Ojadili.

    NTANI’S RAGE
    When Ntani heard word of what the evil gods were bent on, she squealed all she was told to the disgruntled princesses of the river world and in their native rage, they elected to revolt and made a march to the elder gods from bringing Ojadili back to life. When Ntani and the princesses got to the caverns, they got far more than the welcome they expected. Nshaa was not only on the cusp of bringing Ojadili back to life in an evil god body he also had unleashed an army of dammed spirits chained for million’s years

    Chapter 30


    The dammed spirits of the river world were far more dangerous than the rouge spirits who dwelt in caves amongst the pure spirits of the river world. They were considered a menace, a breed of creation whose organ lay outside of the knowledge both amongst mortals and spirits. From the look of things, Nshaa and a few elder gods were planning to stike bigger than just to kill Obinze and bring back Urenma. Ntani was so shocked by the sight she beheld that her tongue cleaved to the roof of her mouth and the power of speech fled her vocal organ. Nshaa was planning to clean out a race of men, he was clearly not just interested in Obinze and Urenma, his plans were far bigger than what she was told.

    Nshaa decieved them all; all along he had been secretly working on his scheme to wipe out Ukeh land and all those who loved the land which the children of the gods loved and preferred to live in. Realizing what Nishaa was up to, Ntani sent three princess immediately to Ukeh land to warn Urenma and Obinze of the doom which was about to befall them and all who dwelt in Ukeh. Sadly Ntani was ignorant of the depth of Nshaa’s deception and treachery; it would take bravery, blood and death to get the three princesses to Ukeh to deliver their message. Ntani and the princesses she had convinced to follow her were mere young spirits caught in the maelstrom of an ageless covenant which should have never been broken. Too sad to say, Nshaa as was fortold, in his rage and hatred had broken the convenant. The emissary from the sky who gave Obinze a wooden ring to give to Obiakor saw it and mentioned it. There were far too many who did not know what the covenant was and how to break it; or who understood why Obinze’s parents died suddenly while he was still a child. This would be much more than the clash of Legends, two world and two kingdoms would collide into each other, secrets which gods above and beneath had sworn to keep would burst out in the open. Blood would flow, both of humans and immortals and trusts would be betrayed.

    Having quickly dispatched the three fierce princesses to Ukeh in the hope that they would get there in time to deliver their message. Ntani raised a battle cry against the very gods she had sworn to serve for eternity. The princesses besides their duties of royalty were creations forged in war and for war, but such wars were not against the elder gods. However the princesses of the river world would dare the gods to save a land which they called the land of love-Ukeh land. Raising their arms the princesses threw themelves against the elder gods, the dammed spirits of the river world and the army of the river world. The elder gods took more interest in their prized weapon-Ojadili possessed with the power and life of Atari-and rallied around him. In front of the warring princesses was Ntani, a legendary fearless spirit. She took care of the warriors of the river world, most of whom were her friends. As the princesses made light of the battle with their superior fighting skills and power, the dammed spirits-the abomination of the spirit world-stepped forward to confront the princesses. Right before Nshaa and the elder gods, the dammed spirits began to tear the princesses apart. Though the sight of it was not pleasant to Nshaa and the nineteen gods, but their plans had to be carried out.

    While the battle raged, Ojadili began to stir in the midst of the gods. The feared weapon of the gods of the river world was coming to life. However, Ojadili was not the only one who was stirring, Utebe, the monster champion of the rogue spirits in caves had awakened from its long slumber; and how it loved to wage war. Rallying the rouge spirits Utebe led them toward the caverns where Ojadili was taking on life. Ntani on her part was losing princesses to the battle faster than she had planned to. Even if she had chosen to call a retreat, the princesses would not have heeded her call. It seemed like Ntani and the princesses of the river world would die that day until a few princes decided to take sides with them and also convinced Utebe to lend them his army. For Utebe war was war, he didn’t care who he fought against so long he got his chance to fight. Their entrance into the battle tipped the balance against the dammed spirits and allowed Ntani to re-strategize.

    Unknown to Ntani and the army she led, Nshaa had forseen the battle and so planned that it would be staged until Ukeh and its inhabitants were cleaned out. Peeling herself from the battle Ntani sought to reach the three fierce princesses whom she had sent to Ukeh to warn Urenma and Obinze. Unfortunatley she met sad news; the three princesses had gone down fighting at the edge not make it to Ukeh land. In her anger, which was her greatest weakness, Ntani returned to the battle instead of seeking a way to reach Urenma and Obinze. She wanted to end the battle in the river world long before it got to the land where humans dwelt.
    But alas, she was wrong.

    Chapter 31


    THE CHALLENGE
    In Ukeh the emissaries of the gods had begun to sound out men who would support their cause. The rumour mill was rife with a man coming from afar with the help of strange gods to challenge Obinze in a wrestling match for the right to take back Urenma to the gods. To Obinze and his household, the man was no other than Ojadili. Ukeh land would not hear that Ojadili was back to life. Such a claim would make them choke to death while laughing. Ojadili for all they knew was dead centuries ago. With the match drawing near, the wrestling square in Ukeh found its glamour yet again. Young men began to wrestle in the evening to entertain the elders and damsels tropped out of their numbers to watch the broad-chested wrestlers. Every Evening the Ikoro would be sounded briefly and in farms, old women would try out their Igede dance steps. Ukeh in every way was filled fanfare, but beneath all that, death was coming to the land, and it was coming with hell at its heel.

    Daily the army of the river world and the damned spirits filled out into the evil forest to Ukeh land and their neighbours. Obinze and his family were certainly the only family in Ukeh who were not happy, they knew Ojadili was coming and the gods were with him. Urenma had for weeks waited to hear from Ntani to know if she had convinced some elder gods to shift to their side. With no word from Ntani Urenma grew restless and threatened to match on the river world; however, Obinze prevailed upon her and asked for her patience.

    Obiakor and Olachi sharpened their machetes possibly ten times each day in readiness for battle. The two children held no fear for anyone or thing. Their stars will shine brightly in the battle. They will taste blood and will forever not be the same again. The gods must have something to fear at least.

    Day after day the spirits which had made it to Ukeh land began to corrupt some of the chiefs and the elders of the land and turned a good number of them against Obinze. Instead of the help which he was to get from them, they began to project charms against him and buried amulets in his farms. They wanted him weak and confused before the wrestler from after was to arrive. There were also some young men whom the spirits overtook to desecrate the sacred shrines of the gods on the day of the wrestling match between Ojadili and Obinze. On account of the desecration, Nshaa planned to order for the destruction of Ukeh and every life in it. In every way, Nshaa was steps ahead of Obinze and the people of Ukeh and sadly, Obinze and his god-wife remained in the dark. Some days before Ojadili was to arrive the chief priest of the land announced that the date of the wrestling match had been shifted. This got Obinze and Urenma wondering what might have been going on in the river world. On many occasions in the night, Urenma had secretly sought to slip into the river world, but was forced back by Nshaa and some elder gods. She knew something was going on which they did not want her to know about.

    While they wondered what to do, one night, long after the people of Ukeh had retired to their huts, Urenma heard the call of OBOJORO, the big-eyed fish who helped her break of out of incarceration when Obinze came to fight in the river world for her return. Without delay she bloted out of her hut and ran down to Nwangele River. Behind her Obinze and her two children followed……..

    Chapter 32


    WAR OF THE RIVER WORLD
    Though everything was planned to work against her and the princesses of the gods, there was however one detail Nshaa and the elder gods missed. They made not plans on how to tame Ntani’s wide rage and fighting prowess. Ntani was a beast a ravenous wolf, a raging bull. Legend has it that she was the first daughter of Amadioha and Ala; hence her anger. She did not just fight well; she worked her charm on her fellow spirits and made a call which aroused all the spirits in the river world who loved to dwell in Ukeh to rise and fight for the ‘Land of love’. Her speech wipped them into frenzy and they rose to fight. However all who heard her did not fight as she wanted, there were those who in the fury turned on the river world and began to destroy its beauty. That day there were many of them who freely committed acts which the gods considered sacrilegious. But, war was war; Nshaa had to live with the consequences of his treachery against the children of the gods and the land of Ukeh. Within days the beauty of the river world was marred. Spirits good and bad got high on the allure of battles and went berserk. The children of the gods and the princesses of the gods had thrown their weight around and pull off stunned victories against the dreaded damned spirits and the army of the river world. To see through his plans, Nshaa and the elder gods came to battle. Ntani was happy that they finally came to fight, she was wondering at some points if they would not. Rallying the battle drunk army at her command, Ntani and the children of the gods locked horns with the elder gods, all twnety of them, in rounds of epic battle spiritual bodies were torn and flung into the air like rags. The battle ground was filled with moans and groans of death and destruction.

    The gods were besides themselves and so were the children of the gods. As the battle raged, Nshaa secertly sent Ojadili out of the river world to go slaughter Obinze and make certain that Ukeh was destroyed. He also sent two emissaries out, one to Urenma and the other to Ntani. Each emissary bore a secret which the gods above and the river world had hoped would be kept hidden for eternity, Nshaa in his bid to destory Obinze and Ukeh will go against the council of the gods and would bring untold misery to a land that had known peace for centuries.

    URENMA AND OBOJORO
    Urenma rushed into Nwangele River and stood in it, seeing her; Obojoro came to the surface of the water and began to speak breathlessly, “War! Urenma there is war! The damned spirits Nshaa has woken up; great war they wage against the pricesses. Ojadili has been given a body, Atari inhabits him. Nshaa hopes to march his army upon Ukeh. Even as I speak, many damned spirits has he settled on your land. Ntani fights bravely, but she and the princesses are too few to stop Nshaa and the damned spirits. You must join the battle in the river world. You must not let it come to Ukeh land. I have heard rumour, Nshaa wants to destroy the land of Ukeh”. “Then I must go now to wake UTEBE and the rouge spirits”. “Oh! I forget to mention it, Utebe has woken and fights on the side of the princesses”. “You must return now and inform all who are on our side that I come and that I come to battle! Raise their spirits with the news of my coming. Let the princesses stand their ground beside Ntani. Tell the river world her princess returns, and that she is coming with war and death! Now be on your way!”

    Obojoro swerved and made a dive into the belly of the river and vanished. Turning, Urenma saw Obinze and her two children all battle ready. “No you are not going with me to the river world. Yes I can cross everyone of you to that world in an instant, but Ukeh must be protected. Nshaa schemes to destroy it. Leave the gods to me, I shall return in time to join you in battle here in Ukeh”. “No! Ure, I will go with you”, said Obinze. “If you go with me, my love, who then shall protect your land. According to Obojoro there are warriors and damned spirits from the river world already in Ukeh land. Let me go alone, I shall return in time I promise”.

    Grudgingly Obinze agreed. While Obinze and Urenma exchanged hugs and kisses, Obiakor and his sister, Olachi sneaked away. They had heard from their mother that there were spirits from the river world already in Ukeh land; their intention was to engage them in battle.

    Chapter 33


    When Urenma turned to charge her children to be strong and did not see them, she knew they were up to something stupid. They were her children after all. Alerting her husband to the sudden disappearance of their children, the two of them left in search of them. So instead of heading to the river world to fight, Urenma went in search of her brave children, who had no fear for mortals or spirits. Because it would take time to find them, Urenma made use of her spiritual power and peered through the length and breadth of Ukeh; then she saw them running towards the evil forest of Ukeh land. Peering further into the forest Urenma saw a swarm of spirits ready to attack Ukeh at Nshaa’s command. Her heart froze; her children were running towards death, she thought. She had no time to tell Obinze what she saw. Stirring herself for battle she vanished out of sight. Just before she could reach them, three spirits rushed out to engage her children. In front was Olachi; as the spirits rushed out, Obiakor literally leapt on his sister while she ran and t----t himself into the air, descending with his blade firmly held with both hands, he carved the closet spirit into two halves. Urenma shouted in shock; what she saw wasn’t meant to happen. A hybrid mortal like her son wasn’t even meant to achieve that kind of feat; there must be some unusual power in him. Meanwhile Olachi kept running towards the other two spirits as though she had not momentarily borne the full weight of her brother’s body. Reaching them she easily carved them open and continued running toward the evil forest. At her heels, Obiakor followed. Just in time, Urenma descended on the scene and stopped her children from pressing into the evil forest. In disbelief she pondered over what she had seen her children do. They were not meant to achieve what she saw, yes they were hybrid mortals, but even at that, they were not meant to subdue spirits with ease she saw. In that moment she wished she was in the river world to demand an answer from some gods. When the spirits in the forest saw Urenma they retreated further into the forest.

    While she studied her two teenage children wondering if they were still the very one she gave birth to, Obinze arrived, bouncing like in his hay days, when he broke bones for fun at the wrestling ground. When Urenma told him she wasn’t responsible for the three spirits who lay helplessly on the ground, Obinze remembered what the messenger from the sky told him. However, Olachi was a mystery which had not been unraveled to either him or Urenma. Urenma siezed their weapons and handed them to her husband; feeling she had stoop up the river world longer than she planned, she vanished out of sight and headed for Nwangele River.

    ANCIENT SECRETS
    As soon as she crossed the divide between the world of men and the river world, damned spirits accosted her. They had been waiting for her along with the messenger Nshaa sent to her; the messenger who bore an ancient secret which the gods swore not to reveal. Urenma was minded to battle them immediately, but when they laid down their arms and bowed, hailing her as their queen, she was surprised. “What trick is this? Who put you up to it? Nshaa right? Now go tell him that I am no queen. I am a princess of the gods. I have come to stop his madness”. “But you are, your highness. My king says you are. And that which you call his madness, he does according to that which you desire”, said the messenger. “So Nshaa now fancies himself a god king. I see his madness will stop at nothing. Now go tell him that I will bring his world down upon his head. I swear I will”. “If I may, my queen, the king wishes to see you”. “Good! Gladly, I will see him”. And so they led Urenma to go and see Nshaa.

    On the other hand, Ntani had also been lead away from the battle ground when the battle broke up for a while, by the messenger sent by Nshaa in the guise of an invitation to discuss a truce. Ntani also had heard that Urenma was coming to the river world, but was not happy about it; she felt she should have stayed back in Ukeh to fight beside Obinze. Nshaa had manged to send Ojadili to Ukeh and she knew without Urenma, Obinze and Ukeh stood no chance against an army led by Ojadili. Their decoy was to start a wrestling match between Obinze and Ojadili, and after Ojadili must have killed Obinze, the army from the river world would run through Ukeh killing everything that had breath. After that there shall be no land which the children of the gods shall aspire to go and live as mortals.

    Chapter 34


    ANCIENT SECRETS CONTINUES……
    With some measure of pomp and grandeur, Urenma was ushered in to see Nshaa. She could tell Nshaa had worked out a scheme to win her to his side and she was glad to let him try, knowing that won’t budge her. She laughed them to scorn when the court of the elder gods welcomed her as a queen and hundreds servants bowed in honour to her. Ntani who was in the court was shocked to behold that sort of uncouth attempt to win Urenma to their side. Urenma scoffed at them and dismissed their scheme instantly. For as long as she was concerned, she was no queen and certainly not to Nshaa, a god whose evil side she had come to see clearly. When Nshaa came out to meet her, the court hailed him as a god king. Urenma was turned off and riled up at the sight of that, she thought that whatever had taken hold of Nshaa meant business. To get his attention and that of those in the court, she destroyed the beauty of the court, but as quickly as she destroyed it, Nshaa restored it. However, that worked to get Nshaa to give her attention; like a thunder bolt Urenma’s voiced resonated, “Nshaa you are no god king! The river world is for the twenty gods to rule and administer. The lands and people on earth were given to you as trust territories by the council of gods; you don’t get to make decisions alone. Quit deceiving yourself and your followers!” Urenma was brave and feared nothing. She stood her ground and dared whoever might challenge her in combat. Beside her Ntani stood, saying no word. Urenma was higher than her in rank, so she let her do the speaking, and more so, Ntani did not trust herself. She knew if she was to speak, she would immediately begin to fight because she had a fiery temper. Poised for battle, her eyes darted about the court for any movement against Urenma and herself.

    Nshaa knew Urenma was in a fiey mood, so he allowed her to burn her anger with words. When she was done Nshaa stepped down from where he sat and shouted with great authority, “The river world! Behold your queen! I give her back to you after she was taken from me and demoted to a princess of the gods! Many centuries have passed, but I have not forgotten. Urenma, I give you back the memories of your old life”. Urenma shouted and fell to the ground. With their hearts in their mouths, all who were in the courst, waited for her to wake up.

    Urenma was a ruthless and fearsome god queen who ruled beside Nshaa over three thousand years earlier. To bring the memory of her old life back could have in calculable consequences on both the river world, the world of mortal and the kingdoms in the sky.
    The council of gods had decided to take the memory of her old life to save her from the evil which sought to swallon her; and demoted her to a princess of the gods. Over many centuries she proved to the gods that she had changed for good. However the gods were not confident to give her back the memory of her old life. They all gathered to swear that her memory shall be kept away from her, for all of eternity. But Nshaa who ruled with her as her husband then had broken the oath of the gods and he knew a war was coming; the sort of war even gods spoke of in hushed tones. Nshaa was evil and ruled with an evil queen Urenma. To end their wickedness, the council of the gods demoted them and stripped Nshaa’s position from him and took him to a lower world. Where he served as a mere servant. But with time he was restored to the position of an elder god. However because the council of gods did not trust him, they put him in charge of the river world with other nineteen gods. But somehow, Nshaa subdued them all and made himself the head god. His intention was to return to his lost glory.

    Chapter 35


    Finally Urenma stirred from the floor and stood to her feet. From the crown of her head to the soles to her feet, she was decked in pure gold. The rage in her eyes against Nshaa had been replaced with tenderness. Gently Nshaa asked her “My queen, do you remember?” with an alluring smile on her face, Urenma answered, “Yes I do”. The court went silent for few minutes and was only ruffled by Ntani’s shrill voice “If this be the reason you brought me here, to reveal Urenma secret so that I will bend to your evil designs, then you are wrong! I swear by the true and honourable gods that if I get the chance to spill your blood on the battle ground I will not hesitate to do it!” Turning to Urenma, she shook her violently and shouted in her face “You are a good spirit Urenma! You are the head of the princesses of the gods; please don’t let him use you for his evil schemes!”

    Urenma simply looked past Ntani as though she was not there. Her eyes looked glassy as if they were set on events tucked away in generations past. Nshaa moved swiftly and smacked Ntani on the face with the back of his hand and drew blood. The attack sent Ntani crashing to the floor. Nshaa barked with suffocating pride, “Show some honour to the queen! Don’t you ever handle her the way you just did! And mind you, she is no longer the princess of the gods; she is their queen!” From the floor where she lay, Ntani stared at Nshaa so hard as though her eyes could burn him to death and barked back at him, “You are despicable and nothing close to a god! My name is Ntani, the raging spirit of battle. Mark my words, what you have done today will hunt you and destroy you! I know Urenma, she is a good spirit, she will break out of your spell and pour her wrath on you!” “Leave me to worry about that. Now that contemptible human husband of hers, will suerly regret the day he laid his eyes on the beauty of Urenma and desired her. I will make him suffer a thousand times and beg for his life!”

    Standing to her feet, Ntani responded, “I have said it before, of all the loath some gods I have heard of and seen, you are the worst! So all you have done from the time Obinze came to the river world and to this present have been out of jealousy? So to have her who once was your queen, you have done all this?” “Yes! And I will do much more” Nshaa gloated. Something interested happened which Nshaa did not pick up. When Ntani mentioned the name ‘Obinze’, Urenma who had been standing tranfixed, gazing upon her past life pecked her head up and darted her eyes about. Ntani saw her reaction and smiled to herself. Urenma could still be reached by the mere mention of Obinze’s name. Nshaa had scooped burning coals to his b---m; he just could not see it yet. Storming out of the court, Ntani tore apart the guards who stood by the door. Outside the court, she raised a cry and many gathered to her. In the open plains of the river world, the damned spirits and the armies of the river world took battle positions against the princesses of the gods who refused to submit to Nshaa.

    Behind the princesses were Utebe and the rouge spirits, Ntani led the gods and the rouge spirits and appointed a leader over them. Her intention was to leave for Ukeh to offer a helping hand to Obinze. She knew it might be a while before Urenma would break free from the glamour of her past life as a queen.

    Back in the court, Nshaa took Urenma’s hand and led her to the high places of honour reserved for the nineteen gods, which Nshaa had commandeered as the new god king of the river world. Out in the open, as new rounds of battles intensified, the princesses of the gods persuaded Ntani to stay back and fight with them. Natani give in to their plea and stayed back. However the battle was an effort infutility, Nshaa wanted them busy with the battle while Ukeh burned.

    Already Ukeh was agog with festival and fanfare as humans waited for the greatest wrestling match in igbo folklore. Behind the battle which raged in the river wrold, Nshaa and the nineteen gods, made ready to leave for Ukeh; and Nshaa was minded to leave with his new found queen, Urenma. Though hours has passed since Urenma regained the knowledge of her past life, yet she gazed upon that past life intently. As she peered into her life as a powerful ruthless queen, tears flowed from her eyes. Nshaa who sat by her said said reassuringly, “Cry not my queen, in a matter of days, we shall gain back all we lost, and not even the council of gods can stop us”. Urenma said no word. When the nineteen gods and a band of damned spirits were ready to move to Ukeh, Nshaa mounted the high steps of the court to address them “Make no mistakes! This battle we match to shall be unlike any in history. Will mortal stop us? No! But there are other gods and kingdoms which shall stand in our way. However we must stand and fight till our desire we have achieved. My queen who was taken away from me is now back!” At that the damned spirits echoed insanely.

    Chapter 36

    As Ojadili tried to break free, Obinze shouted, “Brother! This is my time, my generation and my land! Now be
    gone to where you came from!” He crashed his head into Ojadili’s chest and just then the unthinkable happened.
    Ojadili went down violently to the ground. Their feat was unbelievable; in Igbo floklore, Ojadili’s back never
    touched the ground in all his fights. He won all, whether against spirits or men standing on his feet.
    Shocked, stunned and embarrassed, Ojadili jumped to his feet.

    From where they stood and watched, Nshaa and the nineteen gods knew they were going to have their hands
    full. The wrestling match which they had expected to last a brief moment had taken longer than they planned.
    Unknown to Nshaa and his army, Obinze was only holding off Ojadili, hoping that a miracle would happen and
    his family would make it out of Ala Upah. When they do, he won’t be wrestling, he would be butchering spirits
    who had entered his land. In anger to what Obinze did to him, Ojadili began to attack Obinze viciously, using
    the full power and energy of Atari. For a long spell of time Obinze stuck to the lessons he had learnt and
    frustrated Ojadili. But then he made a mistake, he left his arm flailling in Ojadili’s face. Ojadili pounced like a
    cat, twisted and pulled Obinze’s arm from his shoulder

    Obinze’s cry froze the hearts of those who watched. The arm was pulled of completely, the only thing which
    held it was a lump of flesh. Obinze knew it was over and the people of Ukeh knew it was over. Their son had
    fought bravely, there was nothing to be ashamed about the way he fought. He was the only man in all of history
    to bring Ojadili down in a fight. As Obinze lay on the ground and expected his life to be taken from him, Nshaa
    and his army began to close in on Ukeh. Ojadili ran around the wrestling ground and celebrated wildly.


    From one of the spirits who accompanied him to Ukeh, he took a machete and ran to where Obinze lay and
    raised it to behead him. A hand held the machete from behind.
    No one could say how he got on the wrestling ground. They only saw him standing behind Ojadili. With his
    right hand he held Ojadili’s machete and with his left hand he dug into Ojadili’s stomach and pulled out his
    intestines.

    Obiakor, the sun of Obinze, had made it out of Ala Upah just in time to save his father. Wrestling the machete
    from Ojadili, he threw it away. Ukeh echoed at the sight of a teenage boy tearing Ojadili to shreds with bare
    hands. He attacked Ojadili like a wounded lion, tearing his arms, ears, jaws and limbs off. Nshaa and the army
    he led stood still, and completely puzzled at what they saw. Picking up the machete he threw away he starring at
    it disdainfully before using it to lump off Ojadili’s head. A boy saw the look in Obiakor’s face when he looked at
    the machete. He understood the meaning in his eyes and so he bolted from the wrestling ground to Obinze’s house

    Chapter 37


    Nshaa continued “She can single handedly clear a field of fighting men & spirits with the wave of her hand” The insane shouting continued “Ukeh is naked! Obinze the pig who had my queen shall be used to wipe the ground by Ojadili,who as we speak is in Ukeh”. Nshall gloated furhter with arrogance.

    “And above all, I have the nineteen gods with me now I say,let those who think they can stop us dare to try! For years I looked upon Ukeh with rage,and there I was stripped of my position by the gods and my queen was reduced to a princess of the gods. For in the same land,Ukah,there is a man who dared the gods,brought fight to their world & took their princess to his land. He took not just a princess,but my former bride,a queen of the gods. Obinze! Must die!!”

    The name Obinze rattled & jolted Urenma; she cried & crashed to the floor. Her cry hushed both Nshaa & the damned spirits who were beside themselves with excitement. There was so much slience in the court that one would have heard a grain of sand drop to the ground. Nshaa rushed to help his queen; before he could reach her,Urenma sprang to her feet & shook herself & all the gold decking on her fell off. Her eyes burned with rage,Nshaa could tell instanly that something was wrong. Urenma raised her voiced and thundered “I am Urenma,a queen amongst gods! Thanks for bringing back my memory. I am the death that will stop you & your cursed Ojadili! I want no part in your treachery against the council of god! Touch Obinze & you die!” Like lightening she blew out of the court. Above the battle ground lightning flashed & Urenma descended with a storm. All what the princesses, Ntani, Utebe & the rouge spirits saw were the bodies of damned spirits flying ito the air in bits and pieces. The queen amongst gods had come to war! She had rediscovered herself. The sight of her in battle made Ntani and the princesses go bonkers. Even utebe had to bow his knees before her;and along with him the rouge spirits bowed. In centuries they had not bowed to anyone. Rising to their feet,Utebe & the rouge spirits charged at the damned spirits. From his lofy place Nshaa watched in utter disbelief

    Turning to the gods of the damned spirits,Nshaa barked “You told me that bringing her memories back would work in my favour! Now what is this?” “My lord, there is yet another way to make Urenma do your bidding” said Pouh, lord of the damned spirits “How do I know it will work when bringing her memory back failed?” “We are not called damned spirits for nothing. It will work my lord,but I must warn you,it is extreme. We did not suggest it first because it is very evil” “I don’t care how evil it is, just do it! Stop her!” Pouh and his men left hurriedly.
    On the battle field Ntani pulled Urenma aside & said “My lord..” she had not addressed her before as her lord “..you should not be here. The battle here is over. Go to Ukeh,Obinze & the land need you more,when the battle begins there summon us”. Urenma did not respond,she just blew out of her sight with the flash of lightening. Ntani knew instantly that there was something different with the new Urenma. The new version was vicious & killed faster than anything she had known. Looking up at the lofty place of the gods,she jeer at Nshaa & whispered to herself “Nshaa, you brought this on yourself”

    At the border between the river world and Ukeh, Urenma stood & tried to open a portal to cross over. Behind her Pouh & some damned spirits crouched with an abominable magic in their possession. Their intent was to use it on Urenma the moment she tried to cross over to Ukeh. As soon as the portal opened & she stepped in,Pouh unleashed the evil power. It moved through the air & fastened itself on Urenma’s back & began to take over her throughts. In Nwangele River into which she fell in Ukeh,she fought to shake off the magic until it fully consumed her mind. In utmost hatred for Obinze & her children,she headed home to attack them. Obinze was happy to see her coming home. Happily they all rose to welcome her. But when she drew closer her face was beastly & her eyes flared with hatred. Obinze saw it & tried to shield his children,but it was too late. With the swipe of her hand Urenma,tore Obinze open plunging her hand into them;she pulled out the hair which she gave him seized her two children & fled to Ala Upah. No mortal or spirit would dare follow her there. To Obinze the worst had happened,his very much beloved attacked him,took her hair & left him at the mercy of Ojadili. As he writhed in pain on the ground,he prayed for death. He lay there helplessly until a hand touched him and said “Someone heard your cry & sent me to help you” Obinze raise his head & saw IJELE, the guardian spirit of his ancestors. Ijele lifted him off the ground & carried him to his hut “You can heal me,can’t you Ijele” “I certainly can heal you,but that would be about the much I can do for you”
    “You lie! I know you can do more” “That depends on what you ask of me”.

    Chapter 38


    Happy to hear that he could be healed, he pressed Ijele. “Please get on with it, I want to go after my wife and children”. “No, you can’t do that! Even I Ijele would be mad to go after Urenma in a land such as Ala Upah. The land fountains with the worst form of evil known in creation and is habitat for beings like the damned spirits. Beside, your wife is no longer the person who left you for the river world, a lot has happened to her since then”. “What happened to Urenma?! Tell me Ijele? Before she attacked me and left with Obiakor and Olachi, I saw evil in her face!” “I have to heal you first!” Ijele stepped outside to fetch some herbs; in about a minutes time he was back. After he had blended the herbs into a perfect mix of liquid, he helped Obinze to gulp it down; and then placed his hands on his chest and shut his eyes. In a flash Obinze’s open flesh closed up. Obinze hurried to get up, but fell back to his mat, “Obinze, you have to rest, Urenma took much more than her hair from you”. “But you haven’t told me what is wrong with Urenma”. “Urenma has been given her memory back”. “What memory Ijele?” “The memory of her ancient life as a ruthless, wicked queen amongst the gods”. “Urenma was a queen?”

    “Yes she was; and a ruthless one at that. She was wife to Nshaa then, and the both of them committed so much evil that the council of gods sat and decided to strip them of their positions. Over time Urenma changed for good and showed she had a pure heart. Nshaa was also thought to have changed, but with what he has done, he never really did. He gave Urenma her memory back in the hope that she would join him in his evil quest. For a moment it seemed like it worked, but the several mentioning of your name broke her free”. “My name broke her free? How?” “Obinze, there is much to you than anyone knows and the council of gods are counting on that in this time”. “So if Urenma successfully resisted Nshaa’s evil schemes, why then is she under an evil spell?” “She was on her way back to you when those abominations of the spirit world, the damned spirits attacked her with one of their magical abominations which took over her mind. Right now the magic controls her. It can be removed from her back and I think that is the reason it drove to Ala Upah where no one follow her to. I fear the gods are concerned too that if the evil on her back decides to drive back to Ukeh to join the battle, there will be unimaginable horrors in this land. Urenma must not team up with Nshaa. Since she got her memory back, she has grown in power. It was for this reason that the gods took the memory of her old life away and swore an oath never to give it back to her. Nshaa has spoilt all that. He has destroyed the balance of the river world by unleashing the damned spirits; he caused the princesses of the gods to turn on their fellow spirits and brought Ojadili back from his time and generation. And the worst still, he made Atari, a spirit under the curse of the gods to possess him”.

    “Ijele, my concern is Urenma. Why don’t you let me try and help her, if she has as much power as you have just mentioned. Wouldn’t it be wise to have her fighting on our side?” “It would be good to have her on our side, but you can’t go to Ala Upah. Ala Upah is not the river world! Even if you could go there, tell me who would let you in?”

    Obinze felt frustrated by his being not able to rescue his wife and children. Ijele continued. “You must focus on the task at hand. Tomorrow you will face Ojadili in a mortal combat and you know what he is and who is in him. You must not die! You must hold him off until Obiakor your son and his sister find their way out of Ala Upah”. “So you know they will make it out of the evil land after all?” “We only hope that they will make it. It has being written long ago that he shall fight in this battle alongside his sister. We hope the prophecy shall come to pass”. “So how is Obiakor going to make it out of Ala Upha”. “I don’t have the answer now Obinze. Like I said, you must focus on the task ahead, which is your fight with Ojadili. You must not let him kill you. You must stay alive!”

    “How am I meant to do that without Urenma’s hair or any spiritual power backing me up?” “There is a way you can do that, a knowledge which you must have………” “And what knowledge is that?” “Obinze, you and Ojadili are half-brothers…….” Ijele paused. Obinze jumped to his feet. His eyes widened in shock and he thought perhaps he was in a dream. “Ijele how could I and Ojadili be half-brothers? He lived many generations before I was born. Look at me, was I not born but yesterday? How can we be brothers? Was not Ojadili dead before even my father was born?” “Yes you are right, but the woman who gave birth to him is also your mother. She comes into life at certain times in the past to give birth to men of importance chosen by the gods to achieve great feats. Ojadili was supposed to be her last born child”.

    Chapter 39


    “Ojadili was supposed to be the last child, but when the gods saw the revolt of the present time, they brought her back to give birth to you. In your case, a lot was done differently which shall be revealed to you in due time. Because of the enormity of your task, she was not allowed to live a full life. She sacrificed her life for you and so did your father. When I told you that someone heard your cry and sent me, it was she who sent me. Now do you see why you must focus on Ojadili and not on Ala Upah?” Obinze lay on the mat and pressed his head against the mat. His head was spinning very fast. He had heard so much than he could process in one time. “Obinze tonight, when you have fully recovered, you will wrestle me. I shall teach you how to hold Ojadili off until the battle begins”.

    MORE ANCIENT SECRETS
    In the kingdom above, there were several meetings by the council of the gods over the things that were happening in the river world and in Ukeh. After so many meetings the council of the gods decided an army would be sent down to fight. But that would be only when Obiakor had engaged Ojadili so the gods by that decision hung the fate of Ukeh on the shoulders of a boy, whose mother had captured and taken to Ala Upah. The decision did not sit well with Adaure, Obinze’s mother and Ugorji, her husband. They were feisty in their argument with the gods to do much more than they had done. “This very council snatched my life before I had the chance to nurse my baby, Obinze, to a boy. You asked for my life that he might be great and I willingly gave it. You demanded my husband’s and he gave it without questions. All these we did because of our faith in you. Now look at what is happening. Is this how you intend to keep your word?!”

    “The gods have made the best decision in this situation; you have to accept that our decision is the best?” the council of gods answered her. “My lords, the choice of wife for my son many years ago was Ntani why then did the gods change it and chose Urenma? We feared it would come to this when the callous, ruthless, wicked god queen was made my son’s wife. We somehow knew she would get her memory back and it would lead to this. Ntani was a better choice! We feel the gods should have considered the sacrifices we made before making such decisions”, said, Ugorji. “Urenma has a good heart and was shown it since she repented from the wickedness Nshaa led her to commit. None of what is happening now is her fault. Did she not resist Nahaa when he brought her memories back and sort to have her join him in his new atrucities? Ntani on the other hand is a good spirit, yes. But she is better at being a warrior than a wife. Her heart is too vilotile and for that the gods chose Urenma. Trust us all these shall end well”.

    “But my lords, is Urenma not the goddess of war? Has she not attacked and taken her hair from Obinze? Has she not kidnapped my grandchildren and taken them to Ala Upah where no one, spirit or mortal can follow her to? But look how Ntani fights selflessly and leads bravely. She has not abandoned anyone at such a time. She would have made a better wife of Obinze”. Adaure said bitterly. “Adaure! The gods understand your feelings fully. But you must trust us. Urenma is under a powerful spell which you know of. Her mind has been taken over by the abominable charm of the damned spirits. She would never leave Obinze in her clear mind. I know you judge her harshly because of her past, but before this battle is over she shall make you smile”. “My lords I humbly request that I and my husband be granted leave to go help our son. Ojadili must go back to his rest. His time has passed. As I speak Nshaa leads an innumerable company of damned spirits and the army of the river world to Ukeh. Obinze has no help, how much can Ijele really do for him? Please send us to go provide him some cover or send us to Ala Upah to rescue our grandchildren. Perhaps, we might save the wicked queen you gave him as wife from the abomination struck to her back”. “Urenma is no longer a wicked queen Adaure! And mind you, Ijele can do a lot! None of your request shall be granted. Trust the gods and all this shall come to pass as we have planned”.
    Immediately Adaure and her husband were led away from the presence of the council of gods.

    Chapter 40


    ALA UPAH
    Ala Upah was filled with pitch darkness and was weakly illuminated by a lame moonlight which hung in the sky like a maltreated house-boy. In an hut, Obiakor and Olachi sat on the floor. Their mother, Urenma, would frequently come into the hut and spit on the ground near them. She burnt with inhuman rage and hatred toward them. The children could hardly recognize her as their mother. She seemed to have lost her soul. Whatever took hold of her was eating her up fast. In one of her stomps into the hut where they were held. Olachi notice something like a squirrel on her mother’s back. It looked very much evil and seemed to be sucking the life out of her. As soon as Urenma stormed out of the hut, Olachi told Obiakor what she observed. “Ola, if that be the evil which has taken over her mind and soul, then we should attack. We should at least try to save her”. “How do we do it, Obi?” “You will play dead and I will call for help. When she rushes in and backs me, I will pull out the evil from her back”. The plan seemed good to Olachi and so she asked that they do it immediately.

    THE CLASH OF LEGENDS

    On the day of the wrestling match Ukeh and its neighbours tropped out. They knew Obinze had a great wrestling bout with an unidentified opponent. Some had claimed that the opponent was Ojadili and many laughed it off. There was no way Ojadili who died long ago would come to life to fight the land death crouched in shadows: waiting for the signal to snatch lives from men. Ojadili and some men who camouflaged as humans made it to the wrestling ground and the crowd cheered him loudly, they still did not know who he was. Minutes later Obinze arrived with Ijele. Ijele camouflaged as a young man and bore Obinze’s machetes. At the sight of Obinze the land of Ukeh went into frenzied excitement. However there were a few chiefs who cursed him under their breaths. They were the chiefs who had been planting charms against him; those chiefs who were swayed by the river world to influence people against him. While Obinze made it to his corner, the crowd waited to see Urenma; she was the reason for the wrestling match as they were told. The river world wanted her back and they sent their champion wrestler to come fight Obinze and bring her back. They did not know yet that all was a lie. Then the Ikoro began to sound and the two wrestlers were invited to greet the crowd and tell them who they were. Ojadili was the first to speak, the privilege always given to guest wrestlers. “I am the legend you heard about in tales told by moonlight! I am the legend old women wove into many stories! I am the legend your grandfathers spoke of and beat their chests! I am the legend young women spoke of with joyful tears in their eyes! I am………” He paused. “………Ojadili!!!! And I will destory this fly!” he shouted and pointed at Obinze. Having made known who he was, he returned to his seat.

    The crowd did not cheer, though they were meant to. Many shrank from the wrestling ground including the very elders who wanted Obinze dead. There was silence; absolute silence. The crowd could not understand how Ojadili came back to life. Wasn’t he supposed to be dead? As they stared at him unbelievably, they saw evil in his eyes. Then it occurred to those chiefs and elders who were against Obinze that they had been played by the river world. They hurried to a corner of the wrestling ground and conferred with each other. There was no way they would let Obinze their son fight the dead. Nze Nnamiri stormed into the wrestling ground and raised his hand to speak, “We were told that Obinze would fight a great wrestler from a far land and not the dead. Ojadili died long ago! This fight has been nullified! When the river world presents a qualified wrestler, then Obinze would fight!” The crowd who thought that they had seen the end of Obinze celebrated wildly. Then Obinze who had a fuller knowledge of what was in play, stood up and entered the wrestling ground. Raising his hand, he calmed the crowd and said, “You may not know what awaits you today the people of Ukeh! If I fight not our land shall be overrun by those who hate us, and if I fight our land shall still be pillaged. I say to you run. Run while you may! Go home, find children and run! The roads out of Ukeh have been blocked. I will not let this fight pass me by; I Obinze shall stand and fight. I shall not disappoint those who went through pains to bring this thing back to life. If it is beast, human or spirit, Obinze shall fight it”.

    Chapter 41


    Many did not understand what Obinze said, but there were those who ran home. They could not understand how the river world could bring back a dead man to fight Obinze. Others remained on the wrestling ground to see how it would turn out. When Obinze saw that many remained, he cried out, “Send for your machetes, go find your spears. If you have no weapon, go borrow from your neighours; for war is upon us!” They still did not understand Obinze. But they were worried. Seeing his people could not understand him, he turned, made a stand and waited for the fight to begin. Because the elders and chiefs of Ukeh did not approve of the fight, they refused to wave for the match to begin. A spirit which camouflaged as one of the elders who accompanied Ojadili to Ukeh, ran into the wrestling ground and waved for the match to begin. Ojadill lunged foward at the speed of light and lifted Obinze with one arm and slammed him on the ground. Obinze’s excruciating cry sent many running away from the wrestling ground. Ojadili gave him no chance at all; he moved in on him yet again and slammed him on the ground. To the few who remained to watch the fight that was the end of Obinze. Blood gushed from his mouth and he went into spasm. As he lay on the ground writhing and obviously dying slowing. Ojadili gloated and gave a sign to the spirits who swarmed the land to run through it as soon as he finished Obinze off.

    Turning, Ojadili ran toward Obinze who lay limp on the ground. As he drew nearer, Ijele began to laugh until his laugh grew very loud. Ojadili stooped and lifted Obinze for all to see. He knew his next attack would be the end of the once legendary wrestler. While he suspended Obinze’s flaccid body in the air, Ijele laughed on. Then Ojadili staggered a bit. Obinze was gaining weight; yet again he staggered. The weight was becoming too much for him to bear and so he dropped him on the ground and moved back to study him. At this point, Ijele stood up and began to praise Obinze. Turning to the young men who were brave enough to stay back and watch the fight, he asked, “Is there no song in this land you sing with Obinze’s name in it?” The young men looked forlorn and showed no courage to sing or have faith in Obinze. As long as they were concerned Obinze was dead. Ijele gyrated around and asked the young men to sing for Obinze. Ijele’s belief was infectious. Lamely the young men picked up the song, “Obinze Ebube dike! Ebube dike! Obinze Ebube dike! Ebube dike! Obinze Ebebu dike!” As they sang, the drummers joined them, and then the gong was heard. Hands claps were heard. Finally Ukeh begin to sing to their hero and their voice went up. Like a wild beast Ojadili ran to lift Obinze again, alas, he could not. He moved back and stared unbelievably at the spirits whom he came with. He was forced to turn around and look at Oninze’s direction when the crowd began to shout insanely. Obinze was sitting on the bare floor cleaning blood from his mouth with the back of his hands. The celebratory shout from the wrestling ground was so loud that those who had ran home in fear began to run back to the wrestling ground; and as they came back, they bore weapons of warfare.

    Painfully Obinze stuttered to his feet, Ojadili ran to him to sweep him off his feet, but Obinze did not bother to attack him, he simply stooped a bit and Ojadili bounced at him. Many people, at that stunt from Obinze, Ukeh went nuts with excitement. Their hero was back; and he was making a dead legend look like his ilk. Ojadili attacked him again and this time Obinze repelled him with his famous punches.

    Clearly Ojadili did not know what to do with him anymore, so he resorted to his old wrestling skills and came for Obinze. Smartly Obinze parried his dangerous attacks; he was slowly getting into the groove. To all who watched the fight it was obvious that Ojadili was not only a man who came from the dead, he also had something evil in him. His face was beginning to contort, that was Atari unwinding fully to kill Obinze. Obinze was no fool, he knew quiet well that he was not in the same class with Ojadili, but somone who watched all Ojadili’s fight and who was Ojadili’s teacher had taught him well- Ijele. With Atari’s full power surging through Ojadili, he came for Obinze. Obinze moved in on him and successfully held his two hands. As Ojadili tried to break free, Obinze shouted, “Brother! This is my time, my generation and my land! Now be gone to where you came from!”

    Chapter 42


    As Ojadili tried to break free, Obinze shouted, “Brother! This is my time, my generation and my land! Now be gone to where you came from!” He crashed his head into Ojadili’s chest and just then the unthinkable happened. Ojadili went down violently to the ground. Their feat was unbelievable; in Igbo floklore, Ojadili’s back never touched the ground in all his fights. He won all, whether against spirits or men standing on his feet.

    Shocked, stunned and embarrassed, Ojadili jumped to his feet. From where they stood and watched, Nshaa and the nineteen gods knew they were going to have their hands full. The wrestling match which they had expected to last a brief moment had taken longer than they planned. Unknown to Nshaa and his army, Obinze was only holding off Ojadili, hoping that a miracle would happen and his family would make it out of Ala Upah. When they do, he won’t be wrestling, he would be butchering spirits who had entered his land. In anger to what Obinze did to him, Ojadili began to attack Obinze viciously, using the full power and energy of Atari. For a long spell of time Obinze stuck to the lessons he had learnt and frustrated Ojadili. But then he made a mistake, he left his arm flailling in Ojadili’s face. Ojadili pounced like a cat, twisted and pulled Obinze’s arm from his shoulder. Obinze’s cry froze the hearts of those who watched. The arm was pulled of completely, the only thing which held it was a lump of flesh. Obinze knew it was over and the people of Ukeh knew it was over. Their son had fought bravely, there was nothing to be ashamed about the way he fought. He was the only man in all of history to bring Ojadili down in a fight. As Obinze lay on the ground and expected his life to be taken from him, Nshaa and his army began to close in on Ukeh. Ojadili ran around the wrestling ground and celebrated wildly. From one of the spirits who accompanied him to Ukeh, he took a machete and ran to where Obinze lay and raised it to behead him. A hand held the machete from behind.

    No one could say how he got on the wrestling ground. They only saw him standing behind Ojadili. With his right hand he held Ojadili’s machete and with his left hand he dug into Ojadili’s stomach and pulled out his intestines.

    Obiakor, the sun of Obinze, had made it out of Ala Upah just in time to save his father. Wrestling the machete from Ojadili, he threw it away. Ukeh echoed at the sight of a teenage boy tearing Ojadili to shreds with bare hands. He attacked Ojadili like a wounded lion, tearing his arms, ears, jaws and limbs off. Nshaa and the army he led stood still, and completely puzzled at what they saw. Picking up the machete he threw away he starring at it disdainfully before using it to lump off Ojadili’s head. A boy saw the look in Obiakor’s face when he looked at the machete. He understood the meaning in his eyes and so he bolted from the wrestling ground to Obinze’s house.

    Chapter 43


    When Nshaa thought he had seen it all, a shout was heard, it was an unmistakable shout. Nshaa knew the voice and the people of Ukeh knew it also. Urenma was back! Like a lightening she descended on the wrestling ground. She had regained her mind. Her children succeeded in their plan to remove the abomination of the damned spirits which attached itself to her back and took over her mind. Beside her was her daughter Olachi. When she saw Obinze lying helplessy on the ground, her heart threatened to explode with rage. She ran and knelt beside him. Obinze was misty-eyed when he saw his wife. He knew she would never leave him. There was no time for kisses and hugs, war was upon them. Nshaa and his army of monsters had made themselves visible. The people of Ukeh were on the run. Obinze pleaded with Urenma, “Ure m, can you give me back my arm, that I may rise and fight by yourside?” “I shall give you much more!” Urenma shouted. Urenma pushed Obinze’s arm back to its socket, loosening her hair she threw the whole flock of it on Obinze and many of her hair went into him. The both of them stood to their feet and Ijele, who all along had presented himself as a young man, transformed back to his true nature and threw Obinze’s matchete’s at him. He grabbed them and ran to meet Nshaa and his army. Behind him, Urenma, Olachi, Obiakor and Ijele followed. Obiakor and Olachi ran to the battle bare handed, their favourite weapons were at home. As they ran to meet the innumerable comapny which came out of the river world to lay their land waste, a boy was seen running to the battle. Ijele tracked back to stop the boy. “This place is not for your kind! Go back!” Ijele barked. The boy raised the raffia sack in his hand and said, “I brought these for Obiakor and Olachi”. Ijele took the sack from him and sent him back. When they got their weapons and began to fight, Nshaa realized that he had made inadequate plans; he had focused on the wrong people. No one told him that Urenma and Obinze gave birth to death.

    The gods above had hidden it from him; the two children were born for days like that day.

    Like sheaves, damned and pure spirits fell at the swiping of their blades. Urenma left the damned and pure spirits to her husband and children and with Ijele went after Nshaa and the nineteen gods. She bore no fear for them; she too was a goddess and the goddess of war. The clash between Nshaa and the nineteen gods shook the ground and trees. Houses sunk into the ground and trees split apart. Ijele was an expert fighter, though he ranked low amongst the gods, but the art of war was his specialty. He withstood the gods bravely and while he fought, he laughed like he was drunk. Urenma poured her venom on the gods who shielded Nshaa and as quickly as they gave her the slightest chance, she tore them to pieces. They were all doing fine, but the number against them was too great. Some spirits were running into the village and destroying men, woman, children and animals.

    She knew she must summon Ntani, the princesses and the army she had gathered. The only person who could do that given the circumstances they were in was Obinze, so she sent Ijele to fetch her husband and withstood the nineteen gods and Nshaa alone. In a flash Ijele returned with Obinze. Ijele took her place against the gods while she gave instructions to Obinze; but she didn’t have to send for Ntani. Ntani was already on the battle ground. The gods above had sent for her. Her shout of war brightened Urenma’s face. Her arrival with the army evened out their number against Nshaa and his army. However the gods above were not done playing their cards against the rebellious Nshaa. As the battle ground took on a new look with the arrival of Ntani and her fighting horde, a horn was heard, it meant the gods above had sent their army to fight. At this point Nshaa knew he had to use all he had known as a god and much more to survive the battle.

    The spirits above poured into the battle and targeted Nshaa’s strength in the battle, which was the damned spirits. One after another they fell, the army above routed them from the hinterlands of Ukeh back to the battle ground. The army of the river world was immensely decreased by the superior fighting skills of Ntani and the princesses. As the number of Nshaa’s army decreased, Obiakor and Olachil turned their attention to the very people who brought the war to Ukeh- Nshaa and the nineteen gods, some of whom Urenma had subdued. When Urenma saw her children running to engage the gods, she cried and tried to send them back.

    Chapter 44 (Final)

    When Urenma saw her children running to engage the gods, she cried and tried to send them back. “They are not your equal! Stay with the lower spirits!” she shouted. However what she did not know was that the gods above had planned to humiliate Nshaa by the hands of her children. Ignoring their mother they engaged the gods. With bathed breath, Urenma watched to see if her children would emerge from the blast which followed the clash of the gods and her children. When the dust and light receded, her two children were on their feet moving, hacking and stabbing the gods menacingly. Nshaa was an evil genius, he quickly figured out what the gods above were up to something. The children were not normal, they must have recieved a gift from the gods above; and so he smartly stayed out of their way and preferred to engage Urenma, someone he knew and had lived with. But even that was a mistake. As soon as Nshaa and Urenma faced each other alone, she brought him down seven times. Suddenly Nshaa, the ruthless and Mighty god, could not find his Ilk on the battle ground; everyone seemed to be ahead of him.

    The gods above had played a mighty trick on him. His second revolt would end in a manner worse than the first. When Olachi and Obiakor had disposed the last of the nineteen gods they came for Nshaa, the gods who locked their mother in a cage; they still remembered. Nshaa was having problem containing Urenma, now how would he handle her along with her two young devils? As though that was not enough, Ntani joined Urenma and her children against Nshaa. There was no running away from the battle, he must stand and fight. Then Obinze having seen off the last of the army of the river world joined his family and Ntani against Nshaa. They hacked him with their blades stabbed him and parried his attacks and lightning until Nshaa went down on his knees. Above him stood Obiakor and Olachi, cutting into him like they were slaughtering a cow at new yam festival. Obinze, Urenma and Ntani retreated and allowed the teenagers to have fun with the proud and wicked god.

    Nshaa was certain that the council of gods above did something to him and the nineteen gods, the battle was not meant to end the way it did. From the high lands to the low lands of Ukeh, human and spirits bodies lay on the ground; there had never been anytime there was such a body count of spirits in Battle. On the ground lay incountable number of pure spirits from the river world, the damned spirits and the army from above. The most horrifying sights were humans torn apart by the damned spirits; some of them were feasted on by those spirits. Children were beheaded and mothers cut in two. While men and boys had their testicles and heats pulled off from their bodies. Most parts of Ukeh were drenched with blood; farms, trees and rivers were destoryed.

    When Nshaa fell down and could not rise to fight, Urenma bound him with her hair and the army from above left with him to be judged by the council of gods. All the spirits who fell in battle were sent to the river world where they were to be judged and bound or have their strengths given back to them depending on which side they fought in the battle.

    After the battle was over and humans begin to move about freely in Ukeh once again, the gods above sent their messengers to announce that the children of the gods could be born to men again in Ukeh, just like in the days of old. Urenma and Obinze determined to know who their children really were, left with the messengers of the gods for answers about their children. Obinze and Urenma were not seen in Ukeh for a long time. In their absence their children grew mighty in the land. Many young and wealthy men came seeking Olachi’s hand in marriage, in the absence of her father, she gave them a task- anyone who could beat her in a fight would have her hand in marriage. She had all the time to be silly, her parents were not around. None could win her hand for marriage in a fight, until a handsome boy came from Umuekwele, a land afar from Ukeh; the boy did not win her hand in a fight, he stole her heart with his flute and songs.

    Obinze and Urenma came back to Ukeh; having find out who their children was. Obiakor and Olachi were happy to see their parent’s after a long period of time. And they all lived as a mighty happy family.

    Obiakor Obinze and Ntani fall in love, and they got married.

    The End

    Post a Comment

    0 Comments