They arrived at swampy area, the big lake was brownish in colour with lots of over grown green plants.
Olamma’s loud cry has turned into a whimper by now. She was looking like a lost child as she followed.
Onrah stopped by the dirty looking swamp.
Olamma’s fear began to grow again.
She wondered what he plans to do this time or probably to bid his remaining friend goodbye like he has said earlier.
She was scared of whatever action Onrah was about to perform.
She took few steps away and was careful of the swamp that was on the both sides of the road.
There was a grunting noise coming from there. Olamma wish she can shut her ears from the terrifying noise.
But even as she tries to do so the noise increased.
Olamma was afraid but it appears that there is noescaping route for her.
Even if she escape, how will she get pass all the terrifying things on the road and locate a road to the humans.
Is been over a week that they have been on a journey from one thick forest to another. Moving from bush path to river and then to a deserted mountains.
No sign of human, only them on the road and now her fear triples up as the journey is about to end.
She doesn’t even know what to expect next.
Maybe this his friend is a lion, a bush cat, a dragon with a tongue of fire to consume her, a forest lizard or worst animal that she was afraid to mention.
Onrah interrupted her thought with his scary voice as he speaks to his remaining friend.
“My dear great friend, your home calls out to you. Welcome home! You journeyed with me to the other world and acted as a true friend all through the time. I will come and thank you in a greater way. When the fat is melted I will send in your share. I know you have desired and taste for the fresh blood which is uncommon and you haven’t had for decades but worry not for your share won’t pass you by. I bid you farewell my dear friend… The swamp yawn for your return and may it’s soil protect you from the eyes of the passing prey which may become food for your stomach. Farewell my friend!
Olamma swallowed hard. She knows the next thing is the man’s transition to some animal. Her body shakes in fear.
Sweat broke out of her cold skin, she wish she can shut her eyes from whatever that was coming but she was more afraid of the dark.
And just then, Onrah did not clap this time, he just took a bow and his friend did the same.
His friend turned and looked towards her direction, he stick out his tongue first and it was like that of a snake.
Olamma held her mouth in fear as the first scream gave way.
She tried to create a distance and was mindful of the swamp.
But the man’s eyes was fixed on her as he suddenly began to change into some strange beast.
Olamma couldn’t make sense out of the strange ugly animal that Onrah’s friend was being transformed to.
At first, she thought it was a snakebut it’s head was growing bigger and bigger in size until it fully transformed into a mighty crocodile.
Instead of it to jump into the awaiting brown lake and go deep into the scary swamp with horrifying noise it started moving close to her.
Olamma thought she was blocking the way of its exit and quickly ran off from there but the ugly looking crocodile with a big head, Sharp teeth, long tail and scary body followed her.
Olamma cried out to Onrah who was still standing in the same spot.
“Onrah… please help me. Your friend wants to eat me. Onrah…. Onrah… I’m pleading, please save me… Onrah.
She screamed out in terror as the crocodile jumped on her, and tore open her skin.
It tasted her blood, nodded it’s head affirmatively.
Olamma try to crawl away while still screaming but the crocodile open it’s mouth wide and was about digging deeper into Olamma’s leg when Onrah came to her rescue.
Onrah called the crocodile’s name twice and it pause.
“Zikiza…Zikiza. why are you so much in a rush to start eating the food while it’s still on fire. I know you taste for a good meal, especially one as fresh as hers but learn to be patient my dear friend. I promise you that in due season I will send in your share. She belongs to me, allow me to take her home in whole not in pieces or bones. She will grow bigger so that everyone can have a good taste. Zikiza, go home now. Your home calls out to you. She is not yet a meal for all. She is Just a mouthful for you and I. Do as other friends did and go home. With the taste of her blood you already have something to look out for. Farewell my friend and I won’t forget your share in due season.
The crocodile became calm as it began to move back, licking it’s tongue like one who had a sweet taste in it’s mouth.
It gracefully turned away from Olamma before jumping into the swampy water and disappeared.
Olamma was bleeding from her legs, face and hand.
She was weak and tired.
She began to wish for death because it appears she was going to become food for the animals and for Onrah too.
She was weak to get up from the ground where she lay helplessly breathing hard.
“Get up my bride, look out. After the last sea then comes Ozulu your home abode. I paid a great price for your head, is time to prove to me that you are worth it by being a good and obedient wife to me. Get up, home calls out to us. Can you hear it… take this and clean off any sign of blood on you so that it doesn’t attract the soldier ants”.
Olamma quickly collected a brown leaf from him and clean up both her face, her hands and leg.
Onrah gave her another instruction and she nodded like an obedient child.
she got up and followed Onrah before the crocodile will jump out of the swamp and finish her up.
She was weak but whatever fate awaits her she will face it because no matter what she do there was no turning back now.
She signed her life away with her high demands of a suitor she never knew what was coming for her.
If she was giving another chance she will gladly be a humble wife to a common farmer or a hunter, a petty trader or any man with hard-working hands just as Adaugo has wanted but the gods gave her more than she asked. They blessed Adaugo with a good prince and children to call her mother.
Olamma wish for many things but it seems too late.
Onrah led her as they passed the seventh mountain and sea.
They arrived at a big cave which was caved under a wide tree with many branches.
Olamma began to hear different scary sound.
She was looking around but saw nothing.
“Welcome home my bride, the occupant of this side has seen and sensed your presence. They are celebrating your arrival. Why are you not happy, you have looked forward to arriving in azulu kingdom and now that we are here you looked troubled. Don’t be sad my bride because this will be your home for a very long time. Look around at its beautiful environment. our home is inside this cave, that is where the jubilation is coming from. Welcome home to the great Ozulu kingdom my bride…”
A sudden breeze began to blow, Onrah touched the tree twice, slap the earth hard, he plugged out few leaves from the tree, put them into his mouth and began to chew them continuesly.
Onrah was speaking strange language as he stretched out his hands and began to turn with the wind.
The different strange noise increased likea market place.
He kept turning like the breeze until his whole body began to transform.
Some part was antelope, one of his hand was still human his body below was that of a long reptile, like a big snake.
Feathers fell off his back as wing sprouts forth from it. Two big wing like that of a vulture was on his back.
His head changed to an ugly looking vulture.
The hand that was human before began to develop long claws like a cat.
He was like a giant animal with no particular name.
He could be both a snake and a vulture but his major body was more of a vulture.
Onrah fell to the ground with his large claws.
The cave began to open wide, he ordered Olamma to enter and she obeyed in fear.
As they entered, the cage closed up immediately.
She started seeing different types of animal that she has not seen before. They filled up the cave as they began to jump up and down in jubilation.
Olamma started praying for death because all the animals were scary to look at.
She prayed for death even though she was afraid to die.
Deep down what she desired was just another chance to be among humans. Another chance to right every wrong. A chance to be free maiden living among her people.
She will be hard-working, she will fetch water from the stream, wood from the farm, she will clean and wash. Go to the market and prepare meal for the house.
She will appreciate each day of her life more than she had ever did and will never take anything for granted.
Even if she has to become a servant in her village all she cared about was to be alive and among the living and not animals and ghost looking imps.
She wished for many things but death was the best option right here in Ozulu kingdom, the land of the unknown.
Oby, was on her way back from the market and decided to stop at Olamma father’s compound.
She walked down to their house as different thought crossed her mind.
“Olamma was a threat to most maiden. She was outshining all the maiden, I’m happy that she is finally gone. It was almost taking forever for her to make a choice on a particular man. The gods favoured her most and even gave her the desire of her heart for a husband. I managed to put up with her arrogant and pride, deep down I hate the ground she walked on and sometimes I wish I’m opportuned like her. I even volunteer to go with her to Ozulu kingdom and she bluntly refused. I could have been there enjoying myself and who knows, I may also get to find a suitor in Ozulu. But Olamma with her wicked heart refused me going because she was over protective of prince Onrah her husband. The gods will also bless me someday with a good looking man, he may even come from Ozulu kingdom. Olamma is not the only maiden that deserves the best. She was very lazy and disrespectful. I saw the way she confronted her sister during the seven days celebration all because her sister was staring at prince Onrah. Rubbish! I thank the gods that she is gone for good. we, the remaining maiden can breath in fresh air. I hope someday my own suitor will be as handsome as prince Onrah, it will be a thing of joy if he even come from Ozulu kingdom….
She entered the quiet compound and wondered where everyone has gone to.
“Kpoi kpoi kpoi…onye nno na ulooo (knock knock. Who is in the house?)
Oby called out again.
Olamma’s mother came out of the room, she looked like she had been sleeping.
She stretched and yawn lazily.
Oby was irritated as she watched the woman.
“She was even sleeping in this mid afternoon when many women are either in market, farm or doing one chores or the other. This one is here sleeping, that is why Olamma is very lazy. When all they do is to eat and sleep. Well, except Adaugo who was different. Nonsense!
Oby thought within herself as she wore a pretentious smile.
“Mama Olamma ndewo! (Olamma’s mother I greet you) is over a month now ever since Mma left with her husband and his people. So, on my way back from the market I decided to stop and ask if Mma has sent in word of her arrival. Maybe sent a messenger to let you people know that she arrived safely with her husband to Ozulu kingdom. Have you gotten any word from her yet?
Olamma’s mother yawn again, opening her mouth wide.
Oby watched her in disgust.
“Oby welcome. I finished eating a full bow of okwa na ede (local beans and cocoyam) and sleep carried me. Amaka, the girl that used to assist me with house chores has gone to the stream to fetch water. she got back from the market and prepared the okwa na ede for me. You could have seen her around if she was back. Olamma’s father is on a journey as usual. Mma, my most beautiful daughter has not sent in any word yet. Well, as much as I want to hear from her but I’m not too eager. She is going to be the queen of Ozulu kingdom and has to take her time in doing things. Olamma my daughter is so lucky to have gotten a fine young man like prince Onrah. Anyway, she was the most beautiful maiden among you all. None of the maidens can compete with her. I knew she will not end up like her sister Adaugo who settled with a prince from a small kingdom. Olamma made me and her father proud. Right now she is already ruling Ozulu with her husband beside her. Just that thought alone gives me great Joy….
She kept talking, singing Olamma’s praise to already boiling Oby.
Oby interrupted her and told her that she will be going.
She turned and left.
On her way out she saw Amaka, carrying a pot of water.
Amaka greeted her.
“Ehee, ilo la Amaka” (welcome Amaka)
Oby replied and walked out into the road to the way that will lead her home.
She gave a heavy sigh as she was out of hearing.
Oby was regretting why she even decided to stop by like a good friend. Next time she won’t do such since all Olamma’s mother talks about everytime is how beautiful and lucky Olamma was than every other maiden.
“A day will come and i will also marry a wealthy, good-looking man. If the gods are kind enough the man may come from Ozulu too. Olamma can not be the most favored”…
Oby said to herself as she continued her walk to her house.