THE IGBO SORCERESS – Episode 6
One of the beasts grabbed Uju by the neck to break it. His intention was to finish her off. As soon as he did so, blood which had mixed with the opete leaf in her mouth, touched him. The power in the bloody fluid was much. It lifted the beast and flung him into a tree. Some of the branches which snapped as the beast was violently crashed into the tree, impaled his chest, stomach and shoulders, suspending the beast atop the tree. The sight was horrifying. For once in her attack against the people of Lokpanta, the sorceress saw the famed power of opete at a level she had only heard in fables. In awe of what they had seen, the other beast and the sorceress who had suspended herself in the air, kept away from Uju and the little boy. While they watched, those same misty bubbles which circled mama Daniel, circled Uju and the little boy. “Opete is shielding them from us. We can’t do much now, beast,” the sorceress said, giving away the fear in her heart. “But we have to finish them off, mistress,” said the beast. “Try if you can, but I am not coming down from here,” the sorceress said, levitating herself higher up in the air. She knew more about what the leaves in the mouths of Uju and the little boy could do. The beast didn’t know half what she knew, however, even he could not attempt to touch Uju or the boy. His fellow who was hanging from a tree and bleeding to death was a lesson for him.
Far from the where the sorceress and the beast were, Daniel ran, meandering through the bush and avoiding traps. It had dawned on him that the sorceress indeed deceived him when he chased after one of the beasts. It was a ploy to cut him off from the farmlands and take out Uju and the little boy. It pained his heart to see how easily he was deceived. He was closer to the farmlands now; as he ran his heart pounded heavily and he swore under his breath to end the misery brought upon them by the sorceress. He was forced to go down on the ground when he caught sight of the sorceress floating high up in the air, her eyes were darting about in search of him. His way to the farmland having been cut off, he crouched backward until he was far enough not to be seen by the sorceress. Then he sprang to his feet and began to cut a swathe through the bush to make a path for himself to get to the farmlands. He was determined to lay his hands on as much opete leaves as he could. Having been fooled once, he was minded to avoid it a second time. “When I get plenty of fresh opete leaves in my mouth, then I will see just how strong this sorceress is,” he said to himself. Suddenly he went on his knees and darted his head about. He was sure he had heard heavy hoofs pound the ground. A few shrubs and tall grass moved and it emerged into his full view. It was the mad cow. From its nostrils came blasts of hot air and its eyes blazed with rage. Daniel felt his heart sink into his stomach. As the cow took a few steps backward, in an obvious attempt to charge at him, Daniel knew it would be foolish to engage the cow in a fight. He must not allow himself to be drawn away from the opete leaves strewn across the farmlands, and he knew that. Tightening his grip on his machete, he sprang to his feet and bolted away toward the farmlands. The cow bleated angrily and went after him. Daniel leapt over small trees and slid under big ones as he ran for dear life with all his strength. The possessed cow would have none of that, it gave him a hot, frightening chase, tearing down with its hors whatever stood in its path. Daniel fell to the ground a few times but picked himself up. Tree stumps and branches tore his feet and shoulders but he paid no heed to the searing pains he felt. Realizing that Daniel was getting closer to the farmlands, the cow bleated loudly, almost sounding like a horn and alerted the sorceress and the lone beast with her. Daniel knew his strength was spent, yet he held on, pushing himself harder. His intention was to lay his hands on a fresh sheaf of opete leaves and stuff his mouth with it. He was convinced opete would do the rest through his spoken words. Having seen what his words did to the beast he chased back into the village, he figured out it was how to fight with opete leaves. Summoning her evil wind, the sorceress and the beast joined the chase after Daniel. On their knees they remained, praying and demanding that a woman who can be seen only by Ifeoma be healed and raised to her feet. Kenneth and Ngozika had their eyes wide open looking at Ifeoma, making sure they prayed every word she spoke about the unseen woman they were praying for. On her part, Ifeoma was long gone from the room. Her spirit was in mama Daniel’s house as she prayed for her. “You have to get up now! Get up mama! Death is here! It is at the door, don’t let it open the door and come in! Please, get up mama!” Ifeoma cried. Mama Daniel could hear Ifeoma’s voice clearly. At home she lay hopelessly on the floor, her bleeding had stopped but she could feel cold numbness spreading up from her feet. She knew that it was death, but the sad thing was that she wasn’t ready to die yet. She opened her mouth and spoke words of prayers, but she heard no word from her own mouth, yet she was certain she spoke words. Am I dead already? Even the dead hear their own words, she thought to herself. Then the door creaked a little open, letting in a magnificent ray of light. She raised her head, Ifeoma’s words reverberating in her head. The door swung open a bit wider and a man stepped in to the room. With all her strength, she tried to get up but could not. The coldness of death was spreading very fast over her body. The light at the door faded and she saw that the man who had entered her house was her husband. A man she had not seen in over fifteen years since he left her and her son and ran away with strange women. Explosive anger flared up in her and strength surged through her body. Like a cheetah, she sprang from where she lay and grabbed her husband by the neck and began to choke him to death. Like a mist, her husband vaporized from her grasp into the thin air. Ngozika and Kenneth were scared when Ifeoma jumped to her feet and began to shout, “She has woken up! She has woken up! Mommy, she has woken up! Thank you God! Thank you God!” “Who is she, Ifeoma?!” Kenneth asked. “She… em…the one we were praying for!” “I know, but who is she?!” Kenneth persisted. Ifeoma had no time to answer him, she was beside herself with excitement. Running around the house like a child who had got a new doll, she continued to thank God. , Mama Daniel was shocked by what she had seen. “How could he have escaped from my hands…?” she wondered. “Osondu where are you?! Osoo! Come out let me kill you!! Please come out and die!” she begged her husband. She was forced to stop and think when her eyes rested on her blood on the floor. It was then that it dawned on her that what she had seen was only a vision given to her to make her wake from the throes of death. “Jesus! Daniel! Daniel my son! Daniel!!!” she cried. Picking the pestle which she had dropped when the sorceress attacked her, she unbolted her door and stepped outside menacingly. Raising her neck like a cockerel she bellowed, “Sorceress! Sorceress!!!” She was livid with rage. She was beside herself with anger. “Now I will show you God-forsaken sorceress that it is an abomination for an old woman to be at home while the nanny goat gives birth with the tether around its neck!” Her neighbours heard her and wondered what her courage was. Doors and windows cracked open and heads popped out. To her neighbors, she had gone insane. The manner in which she ran off from the front of her house was to them a proof that Agatha Ekwedike had gone mad. “Maybe she has lost her son,” most of her neighbours said to themselves. While she ran to the farmlands in search of Daniel, she prayed, “Dear God, I beg of you to please permit me, just this once, to show this sorceress that she does not understand what sorcery is. I promise to teach her a lesson which will continue even in her death.” Agatha Ekwedike was reaching deep into the dark knowledge of her past. The sorceress had better be ready.