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Princess Amarachi - Chapter Four


Princess Amarachi - Chapter Four

Theme: And Her Journey to Destiny-Discovery

By Erasmus Ugochukwu Okafor

Copyright ©:
No unauthorized reproduction, reprinting, 
plagiarising, commercialization, or rewording of 
this fictional work is allowed.

The school holiday was almost over and it was time for Amarachi to go back to school. She’d missed Dave a lot but seemed the problem she had at the palace took most of her time; making her obsessed with family matters than thinking of her relationship with Dave, but that never took her mind away from him because they were in constant phone conversation; hence, leaving no communication starvation.
It was even surprising to Amy that when she asked Dave Handsome about the night call that came during the night she had a nightmare, he didn’t even remember dialling her number. It was a puzzle to Amara because she expected that Dave would acknowledge being the caller but more strange things kept making the entire incidence scary.
That early morning of Eke Market day (one of the four Market days in Igbo land) as Amarachi got up from the bed, she decided to go into the village disguised as a commoner just to know if she could have a clue of what people say about the disappearance of the king. Many people never knew her yet because she was new and doesn’t always go out to avoid making her face seen in the public. Chisimdi was more popular because she’s extroverted and sociable than Amy.
There is cultural attire the Ubulu girls always wear on Eke market days; a wrapper tied into a mini gown with the same wrapper used to cover their boobs. They were beads on their waists and adorn their hairs with the same ornaments; making them look outstandingly beautiful.
Amid the development and modernization, Ubulu people still held tenaciously to that cultural attire and never allowed anything like urbanization to fade it away. Even though more of the modern clothes were worn by the Villagers, every Eke market day is earmarked for native attire and it’s the day that most men who want to know the prettiest girl to marry come around scouting for their would-be spouses.
Amarachi got prepared but didn’t have to look so pretty with the native makeup done with Uli Anya and Uli Onu (native eyeliner and lipstick) but made them light, and then started going out while the menservants and maidservants were busy with their chores.
The royals have their royal beads and special Eke native attire but Amy chose to use the one meant for the commoners just to remain incognito as she ventures into the village for information hunting.
Simdi didn’t concur with Amarachi’s idea so she didn’t have to follow her, even though she wished to.
Amarachi ensured that her native sandals made of animal skin were well fitted to her legs, with the long strap tied to her knee level. She was simply gorgeously dressed amid that simplicity.
Olaedo who always wants to be around Amara as her assistant saw Amy as she was coming out and was appalled. She couldn’t hide her glee but shouted: “Behold the most beautiful princess,”
Ola held her lips as she tried to shush herself from shouting; even though she already did.
Amarachi had been secretly afraid of Olaedo because she couldn’t understand what made the girl survive the mind-reading that others didn’t. She needn’t come close to the strange girl until she’s assured of knowing Ola’s secrets that no other person knows.
To prevent Ola from coming closing or seeking a way to follow her into the village, she brandished her hands in the air signalling that she shouldn’t come as if the maidservant had a plague on her.
“Whenever I’m on this attire, do not call me a princess,” Amy warned sternly and continued shambling out of the compound in her practised and rehearsed steps so that she wouldn’t be seen as a majestic girl out there in the village but that aura of dignity in her usual steps was still glued to her nature.
Olaedo didn’t get it because she saw none of Amy’s maids around her and it was strange.
Even the guards weren’t with her, so she became concerned and felt that the situation was anomalous.
“But, ma’am,” Ola called her attention and tried closing in to catch up, “I don’t think you should go out because of how the entire village has turned to be since the disappearance of the Eze. I think you should tread with caution and allow me to escort you because I know places and can easily detect when danger is ahead,”
Ola’s last statement ‘easily detect when danger is ahead’ gave Amarachi food for thought because it sounded like words of the diviners or soothsayer making her think if Olaedo was just an ordinary maid as she claimed or had an ulterior mission in the palace.
Even though Amy wanted to use Olaedo’s company, she felt uneasy to do that based on what she just mouthed.
“I need to be alone,” Amarachi insisted and left.
Amy’s shambling steps were funny to Ola but Amarachi didn’t care but kept walking away.
Olaedo stifled her laughter as she watched Amy’s steps as she walked away into the streets.
She kept looking at Amarachi until the beautiful princess disappeared into the village at her watch.
Amarachi went to the nearby bush where she hid the clay pot she planned using to go to the Eke Ubulu stream to fetch water, not that water was scarce in the palace but just for her to have the fullness of village life passing through her as well as an investigative quest to know if she could get any information regarding her dad’s disappearance. Proverbially said; the tree planted near the river understands the language of the fishes. It was time to make use of the villagers other than the palace guards and maids to source for a piece of vital information.
Leading to the Eke Ubulu stream was a pathway; narrow enough that two people can’t pass abreast without one person stepping aside or entering the bush carefully to allow the other. Even if eight people or more are walking to the river at the same time, they must all line up; one behind the other. According to history as read by Amy from the library, the Eke Ubulu pathway isn’t treaded with two people moving side by side because it is believed that the pathway was natural and not manmade; therefore, it shouldn’t be defiled with lots of footsteps on the shrubs nearby. There are sweet-scented Isioma flowers that grow by the pathways leading to the stream and it’s only that pathway that the flowers are seen in the entire village. It is believed that the good spirit of Eke Ubulu which protects the people use the sweet-scented leaves to beautify its pathway. Aside from beautification, the flowers are meant to be medicinal which are used to treat all kinds of ailment but only when used by descendants of Ajalindu for it to be efficacious.
Unfortunately, the entire descendants of Ajalindu had disappeared from the village because in the olden days according to history, one of the descendants of Ajalindu committed a crime by using the leaf to heal Obiadada, a warrior from Amesi village. This warrior had been terrorising lots of villages with his men, pulling down clans and taking over their lands until the great Achikolo of Ubulu defeated him and rendered him useless. It was believed that Obiadada was already dead, so the people rejoiced. But in the end, after some months, the Amesi warrior resurfaced and challenged Achikolo on a duel. He seemed to have possessed strange powers that made him stronger than he used to be. He ended up killing Achikolo the great warrior that had been celebrated. This led to slavery, making Ubulu people to be enslaved for many years. During those years of slavery, Obiadada became the traditional ruler, using the strange powers and being a dictator. One calm evening, strong lightening from Abiama-AmumaIgwe (God of thunder) descended on him and made him lifeless. During investigations, it was then discovered by Ubulu people that Obiadada who was defeated by Achikolo was healed by a descendant of Ajalindu. This got the Ubulu people furious, making them not just excommunicate but banished all of the entire descendants from the land.
Since the banishment, the sweet-scented flowers became ordinary flowers because no one could ever use them again to heal the people of their ailments and infirmities.
Notwithstanding that the Isioma flowers are no more useful medicinally, the people fear to tread on it because it is believed that it could get the spirit of Eke Ubulu angry that the villagers who should treat the supernatural flowers with respect tread on it and get it angry. This was the reason why people strictly follow the pathway and avoid the sweet-scented flowers.
Amarachi continued her movement on the pathway just like every other person. If there is an incoming person that needs one to step aside for the other, the one who steps aside must, first of all, hiss twice, snap the fingers twice, and then step aside without talking to each other. But amid the signs made, the legs of the passersby must be stepped on the green part of the bush while the red sweet-scented Isioma flower is avoided.
Even though Amarachi found the history funny, she was wowed that when she came across the pathway, she saw the red Isioma flowers and perceived the scents as if the bush was a perfumery. She was happy and at the same time filled with goosebumps as she imagined the beauty of nature in the flowers as well as the healing powers, and the entire history surrounding it.
Getting to the stream after the long walk and observatory looks around the bush, she saw lots of people swimming, playing, fetching water and praying. She couldn’t believe that people still worship in the traditional ways but all those made her escapade more interesting.
None of the people at Eke Ubulu stream knew about Amarachi being a princess but they all knew that she was a strange pretty face. They even thought that she was from a neighbouring village. There were suspicions written all over the faces of the villagers as they observed Amarachi closely. They knew that there was something strange about her, with an aura of dignity girding her and enshrouding her personality. Her skin was different and her behaviour was too modern as she counted her steps while walking.
Most men were wowed seeing such a pretty girl because they came to the stream to seek for their better half. The beauty of the new girl in town triggered lots of questions, suspicion, and inquisitiveness among the people, especially guys.
Amarachi was filled with aquaphobia; therefore, she couldn’t even get near the water. She just sat by the stream and watched the people swim and wallow in merriment.
As a way to play catch up with the people already having fun, Amarachi got busy with the clay sand, rubbing them on her palm and feeling the sweet scents that covered the entre environment.
As she was still there, one of the guys in the stream approached her and smiled at her but Amarachi couldn’t smile back because she just didn’t know how to pretend. The last gender she needed there was guys because of their disturbance whenever they see a pretty girl around, but at the moment, she just had to play along just to get the information she needs.
The handsome guy sat beside Amy but didn’t know how to start talking because, even though he met a pretty girl, her face was so friendly.
Amarachi was so uncomfortable at the moment having a guy other than Dave beside her. Since the days of the Onyedika, the man she thought was her uncle, anything about men always made her feel afraid except in the hands of Dave Handsome who, beyond every reasonable doubt proved to her that he was the real man worth waiting for.
“Hi pretty lady,” The cute dude on his native attire greeted after some rehearsal on how to go about talking to Amarachi but Amy’s mind was seriously fixed on the flowing stream.
The fair guy who felt he could get the attention of every lady in the village was surprised that Amarachi didn’t even notice that he came around, so he said again: “Am I talking to somebody. I am Onyedika Nwigwe and I came in...”
Amarachi suddenly jittered on hearing the same name she always hates; making the young man jittery too thinking that something was wrong that led to the impulsion.
“Sorry,” Amy apologised and got up to leave but the guy’s stood with her and blocked her way.
“It seems that something is bothering you and I wish to know what it is,” Onyedika said and smiled, “try me, I can help out,” he promised with a resolution to help the pretty girl he just met. “Okay, let’s start like this,” he continued as he observed Amarachi who was slowly wiggling her toe as she kept looking searching around the premises instead of concentrating on the person that was with her. “I am from Umuduru village in Ubulu. Are you from this village?”
Amarachi suddenly got herself back to reality, then smiled to herself, turned to the guy and said: “I have been in school; therefore, I know little or nothing about this village. I am new here because I didn’t grow here,”
“I thought as much,” Onyedika said and chuckled, “so what’s your name and what’s your village?”
That question was like an uphill task for Amarachi because she couldn’t reply to it especially the fact that if she lies about her village or her clan, or even her parentage, she won’t find it easy to maintain the lies, stand by it, or even have the clue of reply to the subsequent questions that her lies would invite.
“I am Amy,” she said and smiled sheepishly to cover her uneasiness.
“But I have a question to ask you,” she added so that the young man wouldn’t go ahead sticking to the introductory part of the discussion.
“I guess is Amy is for Amaka,” Onyedika preempted and looked closer into her face but Amarachi swerved her looks to avoid being noticed of her uneasiness and lies because she was about to lie again.
“Yes, Amaka,” she said and heaved a deep sigh of relief because Onyedika just ended up making the lie easy for her with his curiosity. “How did the king disappear?” she asked straightforwardly without mincing words, making the guy to be startled.
“The bushes have ears,” Onyedika whispered and held her by the hand and started taking her to a corner while his eyes were busy scouting to be sure that no other person heard that question.
“My pot, please,” Amy said as she tried to go for her pot but Onyedika didn’t allow her but dragged her to one of the trees where there was no other person except observers who looked from afar.
“It is believed that such words aren’t spoken in the public because the king is considered as the Iroko tree that shelters most of the birds,” Onyedika said whisperingly, “It is forbidden to be spoken about, especially the fact that many men who are among the Okwatulueze group have their wards, folks, and accomplices nosy to know if they could get the information of the king’s whereabouts from anyone who is privy to the clue. Eighty percent of the people here belong to the secret camp but you wouldn’t know, so be careful of who you ask to avoid chewing more than you could digest”
Amarachi at this point became afraid because she just imagined having so many enemies than she could imagine. She wasn’t even sure if the person talking to her was an ally or among those who she should dread.
“So what’s the way forward?” Amy asked as she panted looking furtively at the faces of the villagers afar at the stream. As she looked inquisitively and fearfully at them, she imagined having many foes than she could handle.
“I heard that the king’s children and mom who were lost for many years are back and they’re bent on bringing their dad back even though it’s becoming more difficult than they think,” The young man added, raising more dust of curiosity and caused grains of sweat to appear on Amy’s temple.
Amarachi wanted to interrupt with a question but changed her mind and remained calm to ensure she gets the information she came to Eke Ubulu stream for.
“The information about the palace and what’s going on there filters into the ears of the secret group” Onyedika continued, “through a mole planted in the palace, the Okwatulueze gets every information they need but the royal family has no clue that the one feeding the information to the bad group is living with them,”
Amarachi couldn’t understand why the guy was being too open to spill the beans while he hardly knew her or her mission in the village.
She just shuddered at the information. The dots began to connect because the only person so close to them in the palace was Olaedo and it was likely that she could be the mole who was used as the informant.
“But why are you telling me all these?” Amarachi asked looking perplexed. “You never or barely knew me, and my face is strange to you, but you’ve already divulged the covert information without thinking of the implications. What if I was sent by the Okwatulueze to seek information about what is going on in the village concerning how to locate the king and murder him?”
Onyedika smiled and said: “I am not naive and I am not a gossip guy,”
“Then why did you tell me all these in a wink?” Amarachi asked; feeling that she should be careful about whom she communicates to.
“Because I know that you’re Amarachi the princess but lied to me that your name is Amaka,” he said and genuflected before her in reverence to the throne through her.
Amarachi became startled and restive immediately, so she pulled him up forcibly and took him further into the bush so that no other person would see him displaying such homage meant for the royalty that could make it easy for people to know that she is a princess and a daughter to the missing king.
“I think this is being bigger than I am,” Amarachi thought aloud, “I think Chisimdi is right about involving an external force to help with this. Dave is, without doubt, the candidate and I can use his help,” she resolved, making the young man confused because he just heard a name that never sounded like the name of a man from Ubulu.
“And who’s Dave?” Onyedika asked looking curious.
“He’s someone who could help us,” Amarachi answered, “then dragged the young man forcefully and whispered, “That’s if you’re for us, but if against us, start running because the bush may soon start burning and no one is spared,”
“That sounds like a threat,” Onyedika said with beads of sweat already announced on his face.
“I love Dave but hate the Capone in him,” Amy said to herself with extreme seriousness and solemnity, “but now, I have to love them both. Let’s get out of here!” she ordered and dragged him along as she left in bold steps.
Onyedika followed Amarachi immediately as they left the stream, even though he didn’t even understand any of her last statements but had to follow his princess and be obedient without asking questions since he’s inadvertently promised her of his loyalty.

To be continued...

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