The kingdom of Ijoba shook with fear as magic and chants of war songs were heard far away from their enemy camp. Even though it would take almost a week before they reach the village, which housed the palace, the other villages along the way will suffer the consequences. That had been the predicament of the kingdom for decades. The people were predominantly farmers and traders; they were no match for their enemies whose kingdom was known throughout for their might and power, and most fearfully, dark magic.
Their land had the blessings of the war goddess Ija, who gave them magic to fight and conquer other kingdoms. The kingdom of Ijoba was a sharp contrast to their enemy kingdom; they were good and kind-hearted people and they had the blessings of almost all the gods who helped them to be rich and prosperous. This made their enemy kingdom harbour hatred for them. They passed a vow down many generations to ensure the people of Ijoba knew no peace. So the kingdom waited and waited and waited for their saviour, until all hope was lost.
“What prophecy? Prophecy my foot!”
One of the elders of Ijoba shouted in rage. They were tired of hearing about the prophecy that was not coming to pass. Another elder pacified him and made him sit down. It seemed even the three elders were losing faith too.
"Agba, shouting at the priest will not solve anything at all. We cannot blame him for these problems. What we need to do is calm the people and help the villagers to a safe place, then we prepare to fight."
The third elder nodded in agreement.
Ariran – the priest – sighed and shook his head. He could understand what everybody was going through but he still believed in the gods of the land that a chosen one will be sent to them. He cleared his throat and spoke.
“Elders, please this is not the time to lose hope. The gods will fulfill their vow to us.” He stood up as he prepared to go, “I will pray to the gods for help.”
He bowed and left. The three elders watched him in awe as he departed from their midst. They sighed in unison. Back in his hut, Ariran eased himself of the bag he was carrying and paced the length of his hut but that did nothing to ease his agitation, so he stepped outside his hut and continued pacing. He wished the gods will speak to him so he could in turn communicate to the people.
“Gods of Ijoba, please head my plea and help us. Help put an end to this meaningless war.”
“Help is on its way Ariran... do not worry too much.” A soft voice spoke, “The prophecy will be fulfilled and your people will be liberated.”
He turned around, only to see a bright light shaping itself until it took the form of a very beautiful woman. She was dressed in a traditional Yoruba clothe. She looked breathless and every inch a princess.
“Your highness, you are most welcome.” Ariran went on his knees.
“On your feet loyal one.” She smiled.
Ariran stood up but averted his gaze. “Your highness, do you mean we will finally be free?”
She smiled again, “Yes! My father told me to personally deliver this message so that you might believe. Do you still believe?”
He quickly nodded. He knew if the king of the gods personally sent his daughter Ewa, then it is true.
“It’s a done deal,” She assured him.
He went on his knees and bowed, “Goddess, we are most grateful.”
She nodded and vanished into thin air. After she left, he jumped for joy. Finally his people will be liberated.
Enitayan emerged from the bush looking dirty and tired. He was tired of running. He wished death would just come and claim him so that his suffering would end. He remembered what took away everything from him: it was magic. He didn't know what happened but during the annual wrestling festival in the kingdom he came from, his hands suddenly began to glow and before he could control himself, he had already knocked his opponents straight to his grave.
He was accused of sorcery by the king who hated magic with passion. He was sentenced to death but no matter what they did to him, he didn't die. As a last resort, they beat him mercilessly and exiled him from the kingdom. The guards had to ensure that he had crossed the border before they returned to their kingdom. Ever since then, he had been walking with no direction, relying only on his feet to take him anywhere. Soon, it was nightfall. He was forced to stop and take shelter. It wasn’t long before he dozed off.
“Enitayan, wake up!”
A voice spoke from far away. He opened his eyes to see who is it was. He jumped off the ground when he noticed it was beautiful woman.
“Who are you?” He sized her and judged her ethereal. “What do you want?”
She smiled softly like she could read his mind, “I am the goddess Ewa.”
He was dumbfounded for a minute and deemed it impossible but everything screamed very truthful. Her angelic voice and beauty, the soft glow around her body and the magic that seemed to fill the air. He swallowed hard.
“Goddess, what can I do for you?”
“You have to continue on your journey now. The kingdom of Ijoba is expecting you.” She said, “You need to help them fight danger. You are their hero.”
He looked on as if he had seen a ghost.
“What? I am no expert warrior. Moreover, how do I just lead people to fight?” He asked. “Look at me... I am bruised all over.”
She looked at him and nodded.
“I know, son of the gods. But as you have seen weeks ago, you have special powers bestowed on you. You are blessed. This people need you. Do not let them perish.”
He sighed. His mother had always said there was something different about him and that he was destined for greater things. This was probably it. He exhaled.
“What am I to do?”
The goddess offered a broad smile; it was most certain her eyes were twinkling. “Rescue and liberate the kingdom of Ijoba. Your powers will guide you when it is time.”
She waved her hand and a small light appeared. “This will guide you to Ijoba.”
She waved again and this time Enitayan's bruises disappeared. It seemed she also gave him strength for he felt more agile.
“Go well, son of the gods.”
She turned and vanished. After he overcame his shock, he took his bag and began to run after the light. An invisible force pushed him to be urgent. He ran on the adrenaline simultaneously produced by his powers and fear.
People screamed and tried to hide as the massacre went on. Magic, pain, grief and despair filled the air. It was just three days and the enemy kingdom had attacked Ijoba earlier than expected. But it wasn’t their usual war of capturing captives. This time around, they massacred everyone on their path. They had no use for prisoners of war; annihilation was their only goal. Survivors from other parts of the kingdom ran to the only village left standing – the village that housed the palace. Every was scared and they all believed the end had come.
The few remaining soldiers spread out and made themselves as shield to the entrance of the village, they were all afraid but they had made up their mind to fight and protect their people to death. They braced themselves as the chants of the enemies indicated they were near. As soon as they saw the first set of soldiers, they gripped their swords and prepared to fight but the clash they expected never came; for suddenly, a man in tattered clothes appeared and stood between the Ijoba soldiers and the enemy army.
To be continued...
Let's discuss this story in the comments below
@Kofi... We will publish the second part this afternoon
Wow! I can't wait to read the continuation. When are you posting?