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People say the world is a small place; I’d rather say the world is a round
place; after all what goes around comes around. Frank Anozie
PART ONE: THE COVENANT (1717)
It was past midnight and the silence of the night was easily disrupted by the squeaky sounds coming from nocturnal animals. Duruji village was as still as the dead and darkness ruled the air. Huge trees stood like giant monsters, contributing to the intensity of the darkness that made Duruji village look like a huge forest from a distance.
Looking up at the dark trees that weren’t visible to his sight, Chika Obi wasn’t even aware of how scary the night looked. After three hours of trying to get some sleep, he finally decided to come outside and do some thinking.
Three days ago, the messenger of the chief priest of the shrine of Alaogbaga, the great god of destruction and vengeance, paid him a sudden visit. The information he brought was that Chika must come to the shrine on the next market day.
Funny how time flies, he had actually taken time for granted, how could fifteen years be gone so quickly just like that?
Chika was very much aware of why he had been asked to come to the shrine. The great god of destruction who had been so faithful to him for the past fifteen years wanted his life and his blood.
The thought of an escape option had been the reason for his staying awake up till this hour of the night. This had been the situation for the past three nights, knowing fully well that it was almost impossible for anyone to escape from the wrath of the great god; no one could escape the great god! The thought of death was really unpleasant to him, especially at this point of his life that he has everything a man could ask for in life. How could he leave all that he had acquired and summit to death just like that? The thought of death was even scarier knowing that it was just by the corner under the ruthless hand of the unforgiving god.
“No” he thought aloud, “there must be a way out. I will make him a much more attractive offer. Oh! I hope what I have in mind will work.” He knew that his chance of survival was very slim, but there was no better option than to do what he had to do, it might be his only way out.
His thoughts were disrupted by the sound of the bamboo door of his large and beautifully designed mud house. Chika’s house was the best among all the houses in Duruji village. Even the king’s palace was of a lesser standard compared with it, the sight of his elegant house always filled Durujians with envy. It had a very large compound and the building was so large that there were enough rooms to accommodate his family members and their numerous belongings.
“Nnanyi (our father),” his wife called from the door “What is the problem? How could you be outside all alone at this time of the night?” She inquired. She walked up to him as she spoke and was standing at his back by now. Nkechi was a woman of average height. At thirty-six and with four children, she still looked almost as young as she was when Chika married her sixteen years ago.
“Nnanyi” she continued, “you didn’t even eat your dinner before going to bed and I have noticed that you haven’t been yourself lately. Is there any problem that I should know of?”
Chika slowly looked up at his wife and asked her to sit down. She sat down very close to him looking inquiringly at her husband, worry lines wrinkling her forehead.
“I was just wondering why the chief priest sent the messenger to me three days ago,” he lied; of course he knew the reason behind the messenger’s sensational appearance. “I am trying to figure out what was so important that I had to be summoned to the shrine, knowing that I am a constant visitor at the shrine. You know how unpredictable Alaogbaga can be? What does he want from me this time around?”
“I don’t think that that is enough reason for you to worry yourself like this. You can’t think yourself to death; all you have to do is to wait until the market day and whatever he says will then determine your next move. Staying up so late like this and refusing your food will not help matters”
“I know, I know. It’s just that I feel uneasy about the whole thing.” He complained.
She gently touched him on his shoulder and said. “Why don’t you just come to bed, we just have three days to the market day, I don’t think there is much need for you to worry.”
He looked into her face and faked a smile. His wife’s touches had always calmed his mind but it did little to ease the storm currently raging in his mind this night. If only she knew what was at stake she would worry herself to death, he thought. “Alright,” he said, “I will be with you in a short while.”
Nkechi quietly stood up and entered the house. He watched her as she closed the door, and then thought to himself, ‘I can’t just die like that, I must find a way out.’
Before Chika’s father’s untimely demise, he ensured that young Chika understood the ways of the great god. This had always been the family’s tradition. He also taught Chika everything he must do to please the god of destruction. According to his father, this god was the solution to all of life’s problem. The god had always been the provider and guardian to their ancestors and had never failed them as long as its worshipers gave to it what it demanded.
A worshipper must always be faithful to this god. He must always offer blood of animals as sacrifice to the god every fortnight. Human blood was also sometimes offered as sacrifice but this was usually done on request by the god on rare and important occasions. Important information and messages were always conveyed to the worshippers through the chosen and possessed chief priest. He only could speak with the god and he only understood perfectly the ways of the god. The life of the chief priest was dedicated to serving the god and being in the shrine. There, he was always in communion with Alaogbaga.
All worshippers must be made aware of the potentials of Alaogbaga. They must understand its rules and regulations, and all its dos and don’ts. No female worshipper dare come close to the shrine of the great god; all female worshippers must convey their messages and wants through their male partners who must be worshippers themselves. No one dare disobey the commands of Alaogbaga for there were brutal consequences for the disobedience of this deity.
The symbol of Alaogbaga was destruction; it destroyed any opposer of its worshippers; the god would destroy them together with their households and belongings. This it always did with all pleasure. When two worshippers were in disagreement, their sacrifice would determine who would face the wrath of the god. The great god also punished those who disobey it. Whenever the god struck; it always left behind its trademark of destruction.
Everybody was afraid of incurring the wrath of Alaogbaga, the devastating effect of its wrath always left long-lasting scars on the lives of the people, and the last one was still fresh in their memory.
It happened when Chika was still very young but the story was still being told till this day. A fateful worshipper, Onu, was having a land dispute with one of his relatives who was so scared of having anything to do with the great god. Malaki, Onu’s rival, was very sure that the so-called land belonged to his father and did not understand why his fellow man would want to claim it. It was obvious that the land belonged to Onu, but he wanted it and would do anything to ensure that the land became his.
The village king tried his best to solve the problem and Onu, seeing that he might lose the case, sought for the help of Alaogbaga, his god.
The god did not hesitate to completely destroy Malaki; his house was leveled to the ground after the sound of thunder, all his cattle was killed by an unknown force. The animals weren’t just found dead, but were discovered ripped into bits. Every part of their bodies was forcefully pulled out of its joint, leaving a sight that was too disgusting to behold. Malaki himself was not spared, his body was also ripped apart, every joint in his body was separated, all inner structures were exposed and his blood was spread all over his compound. Every villager knew that the god had struck.
Everyone who supported Malaki went to Onu begging for forgiveness. Although his family members were spared, they were left homeless, fatherless and confused; they couldn’t seek justice, for nobody dare question the actions of the great god.
There were other gods in the land of Duruji, but each god served different purposes. There was the god of wealth, whose duty was to increase the harvest of its worshippers. There was also the god of war; this god was responsible for victory during wars. Then there was the god of health and the god of rain. But it took great courage to be a worshipper of Alaogbaga, the great god of destruction and vengeance.
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