As the sun moved towards the west, Ade left his home, promising his wife that he would return as soon as possible, which could be in 3 or 4 days, too much time for an overloving wife. Adebisi always hated it when her husband went out on Iṣẹs; she needed him here at home by her side when the child is delivered.
”I know you
e worried, ” Ade said, ”but if the sacred stone is not found the entire village will be in danger and that includes our unborn child ”
”Go, Olowoori mi (owner of my head) ” Adebisi replied ”and return quickly ”
Ade turned around and walked away ”to be a man is not easy ” just walking away from his wife is so painful that he almost cried. A real man was not expected to cry, but he loved her so much. On reaching Babalakans hut he found a small boy playing with the stones on the floor, now this boy had fully developed muscles all over his body and he stood far taller and prouder than any child his age.
”Ẹkurọ lẹ sir ” the boy greeted
”Lakan ” Ade responded ”how are you this evening ”
”I am fine sir ” the boy replied
”Where is your father? ” He inquired
”Inside, ” Lakan said, pointing towards the front door
As Ade walked into the house he wondered, how a boy of 2 can look like a boy of 6 seasons and crown it all he had a chest that could intimidate a strong wrestler. Who knows what he would be capable of by the age of 10? Getting married? Ade chuckled at the thought
”Ade ” Babalakan boomed ”I was just finishing my evening meal, come in and join me ”
”No thank you, we
e late ” Ade replied ”the Balogun would be waiting for us, lets go ”
Babalakan quickly put away the remainder of his meal, washed his hands and picked up the bag his wife had stocked earlier with provisions for the journey. Then he said goodbye to his family, charging his son to protect his mother before joining his friend to leave for the mission. They had barely gone far from Babalakans house when another called them from behind, the person that had stopped them was Osi-Alara
”Ade, Babalakan where are you going? ” He asked
”To the Baloguns hut ” Ade replied ”thats where the search begins ”
”And also to find out if the oracle has said anything else that would help us in finding the stones ” Babalakan concluded
”Well, I also know about the bet, ” Osi-Alara said in a firm tone ”and I believe that if we team up we have a greater chance of winning, so Im coming with you ”
Ade and Babalakan almost laughed at Osi-Alaras suggestion ”and what makes you think we would win the bet ” Ade inquired
”The hunters stand a far better chance than the Ẹṣọs ” he replied
e welcome, ” Babalakan said ”the more the merrier ”
Ade smiled, Osi-Alara was known to everyone in the village as the younger brother of the hot-headed Ori-Alara, both share similar facial features, but where Oris face was partially twisted because of his negative tendencies his brothers facial features was homelier and cool. While Ori-Alara gains joy from offending others Osi seems to be the complete opposite
The three friends reached the Baloguns large hut several minutes later. The Baloguns hut was located in the centre of the village with a large clearing in front of the hut prepared against the Esos meeting, a moment just like this one. They numbered up to 200 fighting men among them the best hunters and Ẹṣọ of the village.
”Great men of this village I greet you ” the Balogun saluted ”it seems like this search has become a mission an Iṣẹ and many of you might encounter a lot of danger on the way, may the gods protect you and bring you back safely ” The men turned around to leave when the Balogun stopped them with a sharp rebuke ”Any man who does not drop his 50 strings in bids, will not qualify for the mission, pay up, now! ”
There was a lot of groaning among the men, no one had the intention of parting with his hard-earned money but they all wanted to partake in the rewards of the bet. Reluctantly every man dropped the required amount in the basket provided at the feet of the Balogun and then dashed off into the trees in search of the missing stone. Ade prevented his two comrades from following in their example, holding them firmly by the scruff of the neck.
”Ade lets go ” Babalakan exploded ”they already have a head start ”
”Always using your muscles and not your brain ” Ade mocked ”if we are to win this bet, we must start this investigation from the source ”
”The shrine, ” Osi-Alara said, catching on to Ades thought ”Ade is right the shrine is the first place to start ”
”Well, lets go! ” Babalakan said, with impatience echoing within his voice ”the ant never built its nest by sitting down ”
On reaching the shrine they found the Ifa priest performing the evening rituals, to reference the gods. He had a bloody knife and two dead cocks which told the three warriors that he was at present in the middle of the evening sacrifice.
”He must not know that we
e here, ” Ade said cautiously
”Ill go in, ” Osi-Alara said ”after all, Im the one with the covenant of the earth and soil, if the thief came in from another village the soil will know for all living things must pay homage to the soil with their food falls ”
”Go! ” Ade approved ”and be careful ”
Osi-Alara picked his way silently towards the shrine without being seen, it was one of the principal abilities of an Ẹṣọ ”Silent movement ” (stealth – the ability to move in plain sight without being noticed) the moment he reached the shrine he was immediately assaulted with the odour burnt flesh, human of animal he could not tell no one knows what happens in the shrine dedicated to the gods. He found several carved wooden idols and a wooden representation of lord Sangos axe, there were a host of other things that could make a mans blood run cold and the bloodstains on each object he found very unsettling. Osi-Alara had been taught by his father never to lay his mortal fingers on any of the images of the gods, especially if hes not a banner for the gods, such a warning could result in great consequences if disobeyed, so he picked his way carefully towards the vacant space where the mystical stone once stood and chanted.
Ile. Dust, sand and stone
Who walks upon you without your knowledge?
Can a man die when you are not hungry?
Is it not you that drink the blood?
Of both the innocent and the guilty?
You are, as they say, the giver of life
And the one that swallows the dead
All secrets cannot be kept from the earth
Reveal to me
By the virtue of our covenant
Who stood here without the knowledge of the priest?
Ọlẹla (open my eyes)
In an instant, the soil liquefied becoming darker and much more active and then a pair of footprints appeared. Osi-Alara smiled finally they had a clue as to where to begin their search, then he turned to leave the shrine, in his excitement, Osi-Alara forgot to watch his steps and accidentally knocked down a small clay pot filled with palm wine, the crashing pot made such a racket that it disturbed the Ifa priests chanting
”Who dares defile the shrine of Ifa ” the priest shouted angrily
Osi-Alara felt his blood congeal at the sound of the Ifa priests angry voice, he had no time to use the translocation chant and the shrine had no windows to facilitate his quick escape, the only way in or out is through the front door the same door that the Ifa priest was about to use to come in.
”So this is how it ends, ” Osi-Alara thought regretfully the only thing left to do is to go down on his knees and beg like a dog
”Well, ” Ade asked, ”what did you find out? ”
”Hen! ” Osi-Alara exclaimed ”I was, I mean, I ”
”Did you think you were alone in there? ” Babalakan mocked ”the moment you left Ade started the translocation chant just in case you messed up ”
”Ho! ” Osi-Alara exclaimed in a relieved tone ”thank you ”
”So what did you find out? ” Ade pressed ”or don tell me you went in there for nothing ”
”It was a female who stole the stone, a very powerful female ” Osi-Alara replied
”And what else? ” Babalakan pressed
”Black soil ” Osi-Alara continued, showing them a fist full of the soil he had collected from the shrine
”This is from the evil forest close to Akija village ” Ade observed
”Yes! ” Osi-Alara confirmed, ”This soil contains a small amount of Agbara which proves that the exact location is the enchanted forest and not the evil forest ”
”The point where the roots of 3 Iroko trees touch, the meeting ground of witches ” Ade concluded, after a closer observation of the soil
”Well then, ” Babalakan prompted, ”lets go, the stone might still be there ”
To this suggestion, they all agreed and jumped into the trees to embark on a journey to the enchanted forest close to Akija village. A journey that would take them at least 3 days if they use the chant of the Leopard shadowing the trees, throughout that period the only thing dwelling in Ades troubled mind was his beloved wife and his unborn child.
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