Hunting for an enemy who is your Chief Adviser calls for a hunter with a difference
|There was a clever beast menacing the land of Ibogie. It slew and disappeared mysteriously for months. It tore up people in their farms, in their backyards and even in their bedrooms.
The duke of Ibogie sent a message to his old friend Aziza to come to his aid. It was a long journey and the avian messenger said it was urgent.
Aziza traveled in the form of a lightning bolt. The problem with traveling as a bolt of lightening was with the landing. Precision was out of the question. It took experience, if you survived your first landing, to land near enough to your destination. It took surviving at least twelve attempts to fine tune hurtling in a flash across the sky. You need to avoid landing in the market place, in a burning bush or an abyss. Landing on your head, on your face or breaking a rib on a tree branch are fairly common hazards.
Aziza therefore found a way of turning into a stone at the falling phase of his journey. Turned into a stone, he bounced off a tree branch and dropped into the bottom of a river.
Still feeling like the stone from a sling, Aziza observed a big toe beside him. He looked up. A beautiful maiden was standing in the shallow part of the stream, taking a bath and singing merrily. Her name was Ikuvbogie.
Much as he did not wish to startle her, he could not hold his breath much longer. He morphed into a man as stealthily as possible but the radical difference in mass between a pebble and a tall sinewy man created turbulence in the water that sent the damsel scampering out of the stream.
Aziza laughed as she stooped to pick up her cloth. Ikuvbogie stopped when she heard the laughter and looked back. She felt embarrassed and angry at the prank. But as Aziza approached, she fell in love at once.
"Pardon me, Sweet damsel. There's no where else on earth more pleasant for a hunter to find himself than at your feet."
"Are you a hunter?"
"Yes, Sunshine. My name is Aziza. The Duke of Ibogie sent for me to hunt down a rogue beast in your land."
"I have heard about you. Who hasn't? You are famous and strong and celebrated. The scion of Ukpeku, the pestle warrior. Is it true that you have hundreds of wives?"
"Would you believe if I told you I have none?"
"I would take it as one of those lies men tell when they like a woman."
"It's true I'm smitten by your beauty but Aziza never lies."
"You want me to believe that a pleasing ripe fruit like you has remained on the tree till sunset? Are you a fire that doesn't burn?"
"I had one wife. She bore me sixteen children."
"That's quite a forest fire in your trousers, my hero. What happened to her?"
"Then I married a strong soul..."
"I hear it's better to marry a witch."
"Azewanre was a good woman though. Ilekebon was the one whose head was too big for her body. She provoked Azewanre in public and got eaten up. That's how come I'm ripe and alone. The last raining season was cruel. We take what we have for granted until we lose it. Please take me to the Duke's palace."
For four weeks, Aziza was in Ibogie looking for the deranged beast, but there was no sign of it. He spoke to families that were afflicted by the scourge. There were no useful hints. The most puzzling was the account by a man who witnessed his wife getting torn to bits.
"It seemed as if the farm itself was the predator." he lamented.
Then the Chief Priest who claimed that the deity of the land needed a special sacrifice and he could not tell the duke what was required.
During the four weeks of Aziza's search for tracks, scents and clues, the mysterious beast never showed up. That was puzzling indeed.
To the duke's disappointment Aziza announced his departure and left the land. After one full day's journey on foot, Aziza broke into a run and turned into a Whirlwind, gathering dust, dried leaves and other stuffs that made a whirlwind conspicuous. He made a big show of rushing home, but once he turned the corner, he turned into a firefly and started heading back to Ibogie.
Within a few breathes, the mystery was unraveled. The Chief Priest materialized and laughed heartily.
"Now that meddler is gone, the stage is set for the final push. Tomorrow night, I shall unleash my crossbreed. My loyal chameleon-crocodile shall spread carnage throughout the land.
I shall rally a people in shock to rise against their Duke and chase him into exile. Then I, the oracle of Ibogie shall be the saviour, the oracle, the chief priest and the duke. I shall be the God of terror and chaos shall be my ally."
Aziza perched on the priest and turned into an ant, hiding within his raffia regalia.
The chief priest carried him to the shrine where the beast was hidden in the open.
"Show yourself, my slave. Tomorrow, I will be the Duke. Your four weeks of hunger shall end tonight. Go forth tonight and get drunk on blood. I want carnage. More than ever. Shocking slaughter.
In the morning, I shall do the rest. Show yourself, Slave. Pledge your allegiance to the man who gave you the power to hide perfectly in plain sight."
Aziza crept up the wall of the shrine to the roof. From there he watched the drama. It appeared from up there that the dark soil of the floor was getting erased and a giant crocodile was emerging. Its body had been perfectly blended with the floor.
The chief priest stepped forward and placed his left foot on the massive head. After gloating for I while, he left the shrine laughing.
From the roof, Aziza worked out where the heart could be as the chameleon capability of the beast was activated.
The hunter turned into a giant spear and impaled the monster the the floor. It cried and lashed and struggled in vain. The beast flooded the shrine with blood and its tail ruined the artifacts and furniture of the shrine. Finally it offered one last tremour and expired.
The Duke was sad and surrounded by his council of elders and priests when Aziza came in with the enormous heart of the beast. They never saw a bloodier man but the significance dawned on them and they hugged him.
The chief priest was slipping out, but Aziza caught him by the ankle and dragged him to face justice.
The highest punishment the Duke could dispense was exile. Only the Oba had the power to sentence an offender to death. Unfortunately, the disgraced priest escaped from the youth who were detailed to take him to the city of the King.
As for Aziza, all that he wanted for reward was the besotted beautiful damsel, Ikuvbogie. The celebration was lavish and unforgettable. It was more than a marriage ceremony. It was a festival of triumph for the Aziza and his bride, the Duke and his people."