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The White Wizard Episode 4

The White Wizard

Episode 4

The following morning Eléwì received Àjàká’s heartfelt blessings and left Ìwéré.

“The gods shall lead you safely to the land of your ancestors,” the wizard had said and advised him to be a good king.

This time, it took Eléwì fifteen days to reach Ayégún because the weather was not propitious – it rained heavily for three days while he was still on his way. Tired and sick, he had to dry his clothes, warm himself and take brewed herbs in one of the towns that lay between Ìwéré and Ayégún. Again, he had to keep the strange egg safe inside a warm woven sheeting.

Amòye was surprised to see Eléwì back in Ayégún. He had not expected to see him in many years to come.

“Oh, is the wizard dead?,” he asked Eléwì and his heart quailed.

“Àjàká is alive, my lord,” Eléwì answered simply. “He is hale and hearty. He received me well and treated me to a good meal…”

“Why are you back in Ayégún?,” Amòye’s

voice rang sharp and he stared at Eléwì with disappointment. “You ran away?”

“No, my lord.”

“Then, go back to Ìwéré and endure Àjàká’s ways,” Amòye said in a crisp.

“It is well, my lord,” Eléwì said, deeply moved by Amòye’s concern for him.

“Well?”

“Yes, my lord…. The wizard would not allow me to serve him. He ordered me to go back to Ìgbëtì and claim my stool in time.” Eléwì paused, watching Amòye’s jaws move with anxiety. “He sees things, my lord. I should honour his words.”

“I still feel that wisdom is not enough–”

“That is true, my lord,” Eléwì admitted, sighed and gave a light laughter. “The wizard gave me a gift; it will stun my people and air my name beyond the land of my ancestors.”

Amòye’s face brightened. He felt a rush of relief; for him this serious talk had lasted long enough.

“What are you waiting for?,” he asked, his hysteria mounting. “Hurry up… and exercise the power of the intellect. Go and teach your people new things about kings and warriors, about spirits and gnomes. Talk about gods and their creeds. I charge you to teach the true ways of life…. Go now!”

Eléwì darted wildly and disappeared from Amòye’s sight. He left Ayégún under a scorching sun and for fourteen days, travelled through familiar towns, thickets and plains before reaching Ìpetu. He rested for two days in the small town.

Before leaving Ìpetu, he ate well and stored enough food that could last him through his long journey. He knew that he would travel for six or seven days in the jungle without a chance of meeting a soul. Now ready to embark on his final journey towards home, he looked himself over. He was a well-made man, tall and muscular. He hoped that Etíyvrí and his children would be proud of his sharp features.

“I’ll see Alápó first,” he mused as he left a cluster of huts behind and disappeared into the jungle.

He travelled through nights for four days, stopping at a river bank or a glade to eat. By the fifth day, he was tired and needed a long rest. He dropped his bundle under a bamboo thicket and lowered his weak limbs. For a moment, he was excited as he listened to the chirping of birds and watched the monkeys scrambling away and chattering in the treetops. He was only two days away from home, he thought and began to snore.

He opened his eyes the following morning and watched in horror as a snake came rearing its head dangerously towards him. He rose quickly to his feet and, visibly terrified, fetched a trunk. But the reptile too was frightened and it whirled and slithered away.

“A snake! Bad omen!,” he said aloud and gathered his bundle. “My wife and children! My stool! I beg you gods to spare them till I return.”

That brief encounter with a snake seemed to arouse him and give him a renewed strength. The path now easy on his feet, he travelled into the seventh day without food or water. Towards dusk of the seventh day, he reached long stretches of grassy land where the trees grew wide apart. He let out a heavy sigh of relief and smiled broadly. Now he could see a cliff and the familiar huge mountains. He was in Ìgbëtì.

By night, he was well in the town, now passing by a small cluster of huts. He did not want to draw attention to himself and so, walked

quietly past a group of young men who were lost in a drinking spree. Using the inky night as his cover, he trudged along and paused suddenly a stone’s throw to Alápó’s house. As he paused to think, diverse feelings began to struggle inside his chest. He stared into space, unsure of the reception he would get from the chieftain. Seven years could change a man! He thought insignificantly as he slid into Alápó’s courtyard.

“Who are you?,” a voice asked from a corner of the yard and Eléwì’s heart raced with excitement. He knew he had just heard Alápó’s voice. But he turned around slowly in the direction of the voice. Then he watched as the chieftain, an oil lamp in his hand, set a questioning gaze at him. The old chieftain was not moving.

“It’s me, chief,” Eléwì said and lay down his bundle. “It’s me…”

The old chieftain sighed and took a few steps forward. He stopped abruptly, now standing face-to-face with the stranger and a gleam of recognition came over his face.

“Eléwì, it’s you!,” he exclaimed.

“It’s me, Eléwì, son of Qlöwô, the deceased,” Eléwì said, his voice breaking in bitter weeping.

Alápó placed down the oil lamp and threw himself forward to embrace the young man. But the young man lowered himself, prostrating.

“Welcome, my prince,” Alápó said as Eléwì was back on his feet. “My heart bled in your absence. For days I wept and could not forgive myself for asking you to leave…. As the years swept past, I feared that you might have met with some danger–”

“You did well, chief. You’ve counselled wisely,” Eléwì said and rubbed off his tears. “My wife and children?”

“They are well, prince. The gods would not leave your homestead,” Alápó said. “Etíyvrí and the children came here two days ago. All is well, my prince.”

“The stool?”

“I promised, my prince. It is your birthright and the gods have kept it empty for your return.”

Eléwì’s eyes searched and he fetched two stools. The two men sat facing each other.

“Seven years in strange lands have taught me great lessons. I am fit to rule my people,” Eléwì said to the chieftain who appeared to be admiring his sharp features.

“My eyes can see how strong you have become,” Alápó said and paused for a while. “But the chieftains and the warriors still have to judge you, my prince. This may take some time.”

“Why?”

“You need some rest and–”

“No,” Eléwì cut in. “I’ll be willing to face them in two days. I’ll take my rest after my coronation.”

“I can see that you are a changed man.”

“Inform the council that I will be in the palace to rout any challenge from them. I’ve come with great wisdom and power.”

“Two days, you said?”

“Yes, in two days,” Eléwì said and rose to his feet.

“Where are you going?”

“Home, chief,” Eléwì said and smiled. “I can’t wait to see my wife and children.”

“But it’s late…. You are hungry…. I’ll ask my wife to–”

“Don’t take the trouble. I want to taste Etíyvrí’s soup after seven years,” Eléwì said, lifted his bundle with amazing ease and the chieftain could not hide his joy.

“Just like your father…. I hope that your brain will be as sharp as your mien,” Alápó said, rising to his feet.

“You’ll learn this in two days!”

Alápó led Eléwì out and stopped by a tree a few paces from his courtyard. They exchanged more pleasantries and the chieftain watched as Eléwì disappeared into the darkness.

A little distance to his house, Eléwì stopped by a thicket and shot his gaze. It had grown very dark but an oil lamp burned steadily inside his big courtyard. He continued walking and covered the short distance. He slid into the courtyard and paused instinctively at the centre, his eyes now darting with wild excitement. He looked round the yard to know if anything had changed. Nothing had changed, except that Etíyvrí had added three new pots to the ones he left behind in the yard. That meant more work for his maiden servant. She would have to fill more pots with water.

Leaving his bundle on the spot, he walked

quietly towards the doorstep. Then, his eyes caught a figure lying on a raffia mat around a corner. The figure was snoring heavily.

“Oh, Ôwàrà,” Eléwì said from where he was standing. Ôwàrà was a royal servant, his childhood friend.

The royal servant heard the voice. He shrugged on the mat and sprang to his feet. Facing Eléwì, he rubbed a palm on his face in utter disbelief.

“My prince!,” he shouted and his voice pierced the silent night. “The gods be praised! My prince is back and alive!”

The two men heard some movement inside the house and turned their gazes with expectation. Etíyvrí, followed by her first son, came running into the courtyard. She stopped suddenly, her movement altered by the two men at the doorstep.

“See what the gods have brought to your doorstep,” Ôwàrà said to her.

For a moment, she was wordless. She continued to stare at Eléwì as though he had fallen from the sky. In her amazement, she forced her mouth open to say something, but the words would not come out. She threw her arms aimlessly and broke into joyous tears.

“No tears, my queen. Your king is back,” Eléwì said to her. Tears of deepest emotion came into his eyes as he watched his son threw his slender limbs and screw up his face. “Forgive me, son. I’ll not desert you again,” he said.

Etíyvrí was still motionless. Seeing this, Eléwì stretched out his arms and she shrugged and sprang forward, pushing her son aside.

“Oh, my…” she could not finish.

“No more tears,” Eléwì said and pulled her to an embrace.

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Posted by Ms Dos On November 15, 2017

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