BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Rhythm of the Wild Drum & Other Stories by Agnes Kay-E #Fantasy #African
Seven unique tales, one possible outcome.
A dictator who'll stop at nothing in his search for immortality, and then there is a woman.
An independent woman struggles with being single as her younger sister's wedding approaches.
A broke girl's dream might just be real.
A couple and the chafing of control.
All is forgiven when one cheats. Why?
An ideal man, two women, and a catch.
A boomerang and its hostess.
Before recorded history, there was a land of twelve kingdoms called Evóvuotu. It was so-called because it consisted of two kinds of people: the Okoruchi, and the Ehuehu. They were ruled by the King of All Living Folks. While there was a King of all living folks, there was also a Chieftain of Divinity, Wealth & Duty.
The Chieftain of Divinity, Wealth & Duty was gifted with Anya’ogu and was the keeper of Ófòr-Oguneli. His supreme duty was to ensure there was no breach of duty by the Okoruchis and to guide the Paramount Ruler. He was also to counsel the king as well as ordain one when it was required. Paramount Rulers, although of equal ranking as the Lord Marshals, never joined the army but had similar training as everyone born in Evóvuotu.
However, the Chieftain of Divinity, Wealth & Duty was usually born on a day without the sun, rain, or a cloud in the sky. It was an unusual occurrence as the birthday had to be in between two rainy days before the harvest season began. If there was no Chieftain, then the King of all folks took on the responsibility of the Ófòr-Oguneli for safekeeping until one was available.
Back in El’ikenueze, Okpararebisi toyed with the illusion of Chinasa he’d created. The maid sat in front of him in the final pose he’d chosen for her. But the illusion magnified his discontent and impatience and most of all, his desire for revenge. He had decided to move on by getting one of the weefolks he’d inherited from his de’nnâ’s cousins to conceive. None did which only increased his anger and the guilt he felt for not waiting for his Chinasa. No living folk was innocent of his wrath. When the guilt wore off, he’d go back to deflowering the younglings of the palace kingdom. He took advantage of every weefolk he came across, not caring that they had a mate.
Now the twelve Kingdoms were really desperate for change since there were no blessings done before the planting season, the harvest had dwindled. There was a widespread drought, the streams and rivers had dried up in some Kingdoms, and the people have had to migrate. Some adversely affected went to other Kingdoms to work for food, some sold their younglings as slaves or gave their younglings off as wives for food. It was even rumoured that some lent their wives out to wanton merfolks.
An Elder from each household in Evóvuotu came to visit the King for counsel. It was the first time in recorded and unrecorded history that a meeting of that magnitude was taking place. It would have been a festival had it not been for the gloom that heralded the meeting. Restlessly, they waited for the appearance of their King.
One of those elders was Ónu from Rumuoriji, the south-west part of the palace Kingdom just beyond Njigi hills. He kissed his teeth several times as he waited. He was the only patient person in the group. Patient because he had something the twelve Kingdoms desired. He, however, hoped they were desperate enough to take in the news with open arms.
Soon after the King joined the meeting, they begun to discuss politics and tax. Ónu suggested; that the King in his infinite wisdom should hand the throne over to his cousin while they continued their search for the new Chieftain of Divinity, Wealth & Duty.
Okpararebisi raised a brow while he listened and pondered. He wanted to discharge them so he could rest his frail bones but needed to find out what the slippery folk called Ónu knew. After a while, he asked them to go home and ponder on Ónu’s suggestion because he had a more pertinent concern; the next chieftain. For some reason, he couldn’t find the Okoruchi that made the Ófòr-Oguneli glow just like he couldn’t find a cure for his old age. It was a matter of time, He nodded and smiled to himself, he’d been getting rid of threats and traitors for so long he’d lost count. He had his cousin wrapped around his finger. He would never relinquish the throne to someone so gullible even it was his offspring.
The following day they reconvened at the palace. Soon after they cleared their itinerary Ónu stood up, clearing his throat.
“I have news,” he said, kissing his teeth dramatically.
They responded with murmurs, some impatient, some sceptical but all eager.
“Because you are called Ónu does not necessarily mean you should use your mouth like a weefolk all the time,” Omena’ala muttered in his raspy voice.
A few people lowered their head to laugh as it would have been an insult because Ónu was much older than them.
Ónu eyed Omena’ala of the palace Kingdom. They had been head-locked since Ahu gave Omena’ala the piece of land near the river beside El’ikenueze after he’d pledged it to him. “There is a childling born on the said day.”
The news was followed by an excited buzz.
Ónu gestured for them to calm down before clearing his throat.
Okpararebisi raised his brows slightly, his interest piqued. He hadn’t seen or felt the lull of the call, but he knew it was only a matter of time before the gods would try something new. However, hope was a risky business.
“Why are we hearing of this now?” Ômadike of Rumuochara asked, eyeing Ónu suspiciously.
“Where is this childling?” Someone in the back asked.
“Are you reeling us into one of your duplicitous schemes again?” asked Njuru of Eliotu, a former palace guard in the time of King Anyanwuze.
“Are you sure?” Mekaweli of the palace Kingdom inquired curiously.
Ónu rubbed his eyes to hide his grimace. This was why he hated these meetings. People always interrupted.
Okpararebisi was interested in this new development. As King, he was privy to information from all kinds of people, but this childling was unheard of and therefore an emergency problem. “Let him speak,” he said softly turning his gaze to Ónu and urged him to continue.
“The childling is in the outskirts of this very village near the boundaries of Onyenwe.” Ónu paused emphatically.
“How can? How come?” Nchi of Ochezo in Elichei Kingdom gasped.
Ome’e of Eli-Avali, the oldest of all the elders, took some snuff to his nose and sneezed before nodding. “I suspect it’s Isekó.”
“Eh?” Omena’ala gasped, his eye twitching. “Isekó!”
“Isekó? Of all places?” A young elder from Akpunwó of Eli-Avali asked.
Ónu ignored the young merfolk sitting next to him and continued, “Born to Eriri.”
“How many Eriris do you know?” Igala of Omeoha in Eliruzógu snapped at his friend.
“The murderer?” The youngest of the elders leapt up like something hot had been placed on his seat. “A leopard does not change its spots.”
Everyone glared at him; he had used the wrong parable it seemed.
“Can a lion birth a snake?” Njinji of Elindichie asked, a little puzzled as he tapped on his walking stick.
“No o!” The elders chorused and began to whisper between themselves.
“But a childling is innocent of its de’nnâ’s sins,” Oche-Eze, the Chief Priest quietly added, rubbing his tired painted eye.
Ónu couldn't help but notice that the King was now in a pensive mood as the murmuring increased.
Okpararebisi raised a solitary finger, and everyone quieted then he gestured and the murmuring, though hushed, continued.
Amadi of Óròdomanya in Rumuije leaned further into his cane; his back was already hunched with age. He harrumphed several times to get the attention of the other elders then snapped. “What is the point of cutting off ringworm from a leprosy infested body? We need a Chieftain.”
Fear gripped most of the elders, and while some averted their gazes, others looked questioningly at the King.
“No offence, Your Majesty, but you aren’t getting any younger,” Amadi of Óròdomanya finished with an exhausted sigh.
Okpararebisi nodded slowly. He’d learned long ago not to argue with Amadi. He was the most free-spoken person and the most respected he knew.
Onwuchekwa of Anyadike in Elidikenónu groaned, “Yes, of course, and if this childling was born on the said day that is all that matters.”
“I think there is more,” Omena’ala added when he saw Ónu still standing.
“You have all forgotten so easily how he beheaded his weemate because she helped his nwónna…” Igala spat in a strangled voice as he tried to be heard.
“Into his bed,” Another elder muttered, and the others broke into laughter.
“I would have done the same thing,” Ónu said matter-of-factly. Some of those laughing covered their mouths to hide the sound. “But that is not the issue.”
“Then what is the issue? Because you do not farm does not mean -” Oongu of Eliotu stopped to soothe his shin.
Omerò had struck Oongu’s shin with his cane and glared at him sternly and warned with a raised brow. “Sit down. He who has no head has no need for the cap.”
Oongu glared back but did as he was told.
Igala smiled with kind eyes. “Wait until you are old enough, dear youngling. You're still new to these things.”
Okpararebisi’s patience was wearing thin. He needed to quench their thirst for his replacement as soon as possible. The meeting was getting rather long, and it was getting in the way of his thoughts.
Omena’ala grimaced and shook his head exasperatedly. “He just wants to waste our time as usual.”
Incensed, Omerò asked. “What is the issue?”
Ónu paused dramatically and then casually said, “It is a girl childling.”
The assembly fell silent. Even the morning birds and the noisy turkeys that prided their nuisance in the palace seemed to have discovered silence. It was the first time they had been in that kind of dilemma. The elders, the chiefs, Paramount Rulers, and Lord Marshals, even the subjugates to the Paramount Rulers were all male. The only known female with the same quality of authority ever known was The White Priestess and the Queen. No merfolk sought the Queen’s audience. The White Priestess was allowed the privilege of male audience’s supplication if her husband became the go-between.
What would become of them should a weefolk become the Chieftain? Or worse still, if the Lord of All decided to make her the head of all living folks, a Queen?
This is going to be easier than I’d thought. Okpararebisi smiled inwardly.
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