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TWO WORLDS (4)
“You can’t be serious!” The third man exclaimed to Prince Adewale.
“That’s the only way, Olumide!” The Prince stated.
“But what if things get worse? What if Osun finds out?! Do you know what she’ll do to us for killing one of her own?” The second man who had attempted to leave asked in trepidation. “This mermaid’s curses may be worse, but Osun’s own will be out of this world!”
“Osun won’t know a thing! If Osun was omniscient like Olodumare, she’d have known by now that I’ve just raped one of her daughters. We will get rid of this mermaid and nobody will ever get to find out, and we have to do this before Adigun arrives. After this, we can go back to the chief priest and tell him to fortify us and also make us immune to her curses…or better still, I could seek my mother’s help. I know that she also has powers.” Said Adewale and this seemed to assure his men and partially assuage their fears. “First, cover that mouth of hers so that she says nothing more.” Adewale instructed.
The first man quickly fetched a piece of cloth and attempted to aggressively force it into Enitan’s mouth, but she in her fury, bit off his ring finger and little finger. The man suddenly howled in pain as he stared at the stumps that were left off his fingers as blood spurted repeatedly from them. He began to move around like a crazy man, crying out in agony and shock as he sprinkled his blood everywhere while the Prince quickly moved away to avoid his royal and expensive agbada from being stained.
Adeola glared down at Enitan in shock and anger as she spat out the two bloody fingers down at his feet. Raising his arm, he mightily struck her on the face with the back of his hand and her head collided with the mud wall. “Kill her!” He ordered now.
The men quickly grabbed their clubs and began to bludgeon Enitan, hitting her all over. She tried to ward off the blows with her arms but they damaged her fragile skin and broke her bones and ribs. She cried out in agony and was able to knock one of the men away with her powerful tail but the other men would not stop clubbing her. By the time Adigun reached the farm, panting heavily from having run a long distance, he was shocked to find the hut blazing with fire and Prince Adewale and his men were long gone. He could hear Enitan screaming weakly within the burning hut. Wondering who had done this, he grabbed the water pot, ran to fetch some water from the pond then threw it against the burning hut, but the water had little or no effect on the hungry fire. The thatched roof only blazed the more and the beams collapsed within the hut with a cloud of thick smoke rising towards the night sky.
Adigun could still hear Enitan crying and screaming in pain within the blazing hut as she got burned alive. Desperate to save her, he took off his agbada and wrapped it over his head and upper body, then coughing repeatedly due to the choking smoke which was already filling his lungs, he forced his way into the hut to rescue his lover but he didn’t make it out, neither did Enitan and the fire only blazed fiercely all night.
The thick smoke attracted some of the villagers an hour or so later and they rushed over to see whose farm was on fire. When they got there with the Chief priest in tow. The men were able to fetch enough water all at once and douse the fire to a great level. The Chief priest, knowing that Enitan was within the hut, instructed the men to wait outside because he didn’t want them to discover the goddess. He walked into the black hut and saw Adigun and Enitan with their arms tightly wrapped around each other but they were burned beyond recognition to black crisp and her charred tail was sprawled out with some of the bones showing were the fire had roasted the flesh off her tail. All her hair was gone too.
When the Chief priest stepped out of the hut with a downcast and dreadful look on his face, he looked up to the sky and slowly shook his head in great sorrow.
“Baba, e soro, (Old man, speak,) who’s in the hut?” One of the men anxiously asked on behalf of the others.
The Chief priest lowered his gaze to look at the faces of the men. “It’s Adigun…o ti ku… (He’s dead).” He said and all the men gave sorrowful exclamations. “Amó n, ti wa ti ba wa! (But, we are done for!)” He added and shaking his head again, he informed the men. “Do not go into the hut, the river will take what belongs to her, herself. I’ll advise you all to go back home, lock your doors and wait for the storm that’s to come!” The Chief priest said, shook his head yet again and started his walk back home with his staff making a clattering sound each time it touched the earth as he walked.
Not understanding what the Chief priest meant, the men dispersed to their various houses while three of them went to Adigun’s house to deliver the unfortunate news to his wife who immediatetly threw herself on the ground and wailed out aloud with arms thrown up in the air and tearing her scarf from her head immediately she heard of her beloved husband’s demise. Her fellow women tried to calm her as they sympathized with her but she refused to be comforted. But that dreadful night, no one heard the hungry cries of the baby helplessly floating down the river.
Prince Adewale, after committing the atrocity finally reached the palace with his men who were all bloody from Enitan’s blood. After they had repeatedly clubbed the mermaid, even bashing in a side of her skull and yet she had refused to die, Adewale had instructed the men to burn down the hut with their torches. He believed that if the mermaid refused to succumb to her wounds, she would succumb to the fire, but not after he had ordered one of his men to cut off the end of her tail so she couldn’t move freely or escape from the hut. He knew that by now, Adigun would have seen what they had done, but he didn’t care because the fisherman would not be able to pin the crime on him.
On their way to the palace, he had reassured the men that his mother would help them out if the Chief priest declined because she was a very powerful witch. Now that they were in the palace, he made his way to his mother’s hut and asked his men to wait outside. The man whose fingers had been bitten off was still in terrible pain and one of the men had to tie his bleeding hand with a piece of cloth after plucking a leaf from the bush and giving him to chew, which would ease the bleeding and act as a partial pain-relief until his wounds could be properly attended to by a herberlist.
Adewale bent down and placed his hands on his knees as he stared at his mother’s door. “Maami o!” He called aloud.
“Eh o!” He heard his mother answer from within. “Wo le wa. (Enter).”
The Prince removed his cap, moved the thick woven curtain aside and entered into his mother’s hut. Her room was quite big and was lit by several oil lamps. He found her sitting on a woven mat in the middle of her room, with her ankles crossed in front of her and she had a small black pot in her palms and a thin smoke was rising from inside it from the incense that burned within. Adewale watched her for a few minutes as she moved her lips so quickly yet quietly, saying an incantation with her eyes closed. Soon, she began to move her upper body in circles like one under hypnosis. He also didn’t fail to notice that she had decorated her body with chalk markings.
She lifted the pot above her head three times then inhaled the smoke once. When she finally opened her eyes, she placed the pot down in front of her, reached for a pot slightly bigger than the tiny one she had dropped then she opened the pot and pulled out a live snake much to the shock and terror of her son. The snake hissed, flicking its tongue in and out, trying to crawl off in a suspended way from the Queen’s hands but the queen wrapped a firm hand around the serpent’s mouth and another close to its tail then she brought the twisting animal to her mouth then bit down hard on the belly till she drew blood.
The snake wriggled and writhed in her grasp in pain but she didn’t let it go until she had torn a chunk of flesh from its stomach which she chewed with a blood- covered mouth. The snake was half-dead now and she squeezed its blood into a small gourd before she returned the lifeless animal back to the pot. Her son swallowed hard and made a face of disgust. He even placed his hand against his belly as nausea began to crawl up but the Queen remained indifferent. She lifted her eyes to look at him after she was done chewing the raw flesh of the snake and swallowing it then she smiled warmly at her son with blood dripping from her chin.
“Oko mi, joko. (My husband, sit down.)” The Queen instructed.
Prince Adewale reluctantly sat down from across his mother but did nothing to hide the disgust he felt.
“You look very worried, what is it?” The Queen asked softly after reading his countenance.
“Maami, I just did something terrible.” Prince Adewale nervously confessed.
“What did you do? If you have raped another virgin, worry not, we will simply send some presents to her family to mollify them.” She said.
“Maami, it’s not that… This one is much worse than that… You might even lose your son soon!”
“May the gods forbid!” The Queen spat. “None of my children will die before me, especially not you, my favorite! Adewale, tell me, what time you done this time? You are totally consumed with trepidation! Your fear is almost palpable that I can touch it.”
He hesitated then swallowed hard. Leaning towards his mother and lowering his voice, he said, “Maami, I just raped and murdered Osun’s daughter.”
“Osun’s daughter?” The Queen narrowed her eyes now. “How’s that possible? Her kind do not mix with our kind!” She was a bit skeptical.
“Maami, well you know that Adigun got lucky and she has been the secret to his overnight success ever since then…”
“So, you raped and murdered her?! Why would you do such a thing?! Do you know what you have done to yourself? Do you have any idea what you have just brought upon this family?”
“Yeye, I only stole from her and raped her…but I didn’t do more than that…” He said with a scared look.
“What did you steal from her? Let me see it.” The Queen eagerly stretched open hand towards her son.
Adewale pulled the necklace out of his pocket and placed it on his mother’s hand. Immediatetly, the necklace touched the Queen’s hand, she closed her eyes and shuddered as she spiritually assessed it. “Power…” She whispered. “So much power in this…” Then she opened her eyes and stared at her son again. “I hope you did not touch a hair on her head?”
“I did slap her after she bit off the fingers of one of my men, but my men did all the beating and set the hut on fire on my orders.”
“Did she curse you all?” The Queen asked in a knowing tone.
“Yes mother.” Prince Adewale said in a trembling voice. “That’s exactly the problem. She heaped a lot of curses on all of us to last several generations. How do we ward off such imminent evil?”
The Queen gave a sinister smile now. “As long as this necklace is in our possession, we are partially saved, but there’s nothing I can do for your men.”
“Nothing? Why not, mother?” He asked, perplexed.
“Because they have to be the scapegoats. They have to be the sacrificial lambs. Do not let them know that they are going to die terrible deaths, assure them that everything is fine.”
“But mother, they are my friends, in fact, they are more like brothers to me.” The Prince bemoaned. “How can you possibly leave them to their fate?”
“You can always make new friends, Adewale. With this necklace, this family is untouchable. No calamity whatsoever shall befall us, but you’ll have to do some sacrifices if you are to stay alive and go undetected by Osun when she seeks vengeance.”
“What mother?” He anxiously asked.
Now, Olori Bukunmi is a witch unknown to the entire village and her husband the king whom she had tied up so that he wouldn’t think of taking a second wife. In fact, she was related to Osun but had been sent on exile from the river for her treachery and grievous calamity against her own kind. She had been banished never to return and her powers had been seized. Desperate to rule on earth, she had resorted to serving a wicked goddess, precisely the snake goddess whom she had stumbled upon while she had been hopelessly wandering in the evil forest. The goddess had blessed her with some spiritual gifts which she exchanged in return for it- human babies. The Queen renewed her powers by eating the placentas of these babies which some of the village midwives stole from birthing mothers. If the Queen wanted to expend her powers on an important task, that was when she resorted to drinking the blood of snakes.
“First, you have to lay with me so that I can fully fortify you!” The Queen said.
“What!” Exclaimed the prince in shock as he scrambled to his feet. “Lay with you?! I can’t sleep with my own mother! Never!” He vehemently refuted.
“Sit down!” The Queen ordered sternly with a displeased look on her face and the prince reluctantly complied, still grumbling under his breath. “You have no choice, you stupid boy! Except you are willing to die a very cruel death!”
“But mother, you are asking for the impossible! I cannot lay with you! It’s an abomination! The king will have me castrated and stoned to death if he finds out!”
“And do you intend to tell him that you slept with your own mother? You had better stop being childish and open your ears because I’m not done yet!”
“What else is there?” The Prince asked.
“You have to find a virgin and cut out her heart.”
“At this time of the night? Where am I supposed to find one when they are all within the protective walls of their father’s compound?”
“You seem to forget the many maids we have in the palace, fetch one, take her into the bush and get what you need…but!” She lifted a finger. “Do not lay with her, for she must remain pure!”.
The prince heaved a sigh. “Is that all?”
“From this necklace…” The Queen began, fiddling with it. “I can sense that it belongs to a mother…was this mermaid pregnant?”
“No, but the Chief priest mentioned that she has given birth for Adigun.”
The Queen gasped now, eyes wide.
“What is it mother?” The Prince asked in alarm.
“Didn’t you see the child?” The Queen asked.
“No, I did not, why?”
“That child should not be allowed to live, for even though we escape Osun, we can’t escape her in the future! she needs to die!”
“But I did not see any child, Maami. I only saw Adigun carry something to the river.”
“That must be the child! We mustn’t let Osun get to her before we do!”
“Mother, you don’t expect me to go to the river by this time of the night looking for a baby! There’s no way I’m going anywhere near a water body after what I have done, it’s suicide.” The Prince said in fear.
“Adewale, I did not raise you to be a coward, but all the same, I shall go myself but after the sacrifice is done! Now, hurry! Go fetch me the heart!”
The prince rose now and put on his cap again.
“Make sure that your friends do the killing! You must not soil your hands in the virgin’s blood!” The Queen warned.
“Yes mother.” He sullenly said.
“Hurry now, I’ll be preparing the protection charm…the heart and your semen will be the last ingredient to the concoction.”
The prince, turned, ducked out of the hut and exited his mother’s hut, then he approached his nervous men who were already white with apprehension and kept warily glancing around as if expecting doom to fall on them anytime.
“How did it go?” The second man anxiously asked, stepping forward from under the shadows of the almond tree.
“Maami says that we need the heart of a virgin.” The prince stated and since the men were eager to do anything to save their lives, they listened to the prince’s explanation. As they followed him through the palace, the Prince saw the Chief priest who had just delivered the bad news to the King and was on his way out. None of them said a word to each other but only stared at each other as the prince and his men walked by.
The Chief priest’s gaze was accusing and silently said: “I know you did it. I know that you and your men killed that poor mermaid.”
The prince gaze silently spoke back: “Not a word from you old man or you are dead!”
To be continued…
© Angela Okoduwa