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Omo called me and told me to get ready before 3pm. Omo told me that her source revealed to her Prince Ari was coming the next day to officially to ask me out. I was infuriated but there was nothing I could do. I informed Mason and he looked disappointed, I broke down and told Mason to run away with me
“Omo will find us and besides, I am no longer a coward and I don’t want you to be one.”
I was adamant but Mason ended up convincing me. I dressed up and went to the living room. Mason was nowhere to be found. I searched the whole house, when I was tired of searching I went to the kitchen to get a bottle of sprite. I settled down in the dinning to drink. I saw a small pink box and a note beside it which read
“Do not open until you get to your destination. I can’t be here when you leave. It is too painful to be separated from you again. Our paths will cross again. I want you to never give up on us.”
Omo came by and I left without seeing Mason. I handed over the mobile phone to her.
“Do you know the only good thing I did with my life?” She asked.
I shook my head; I wasn’t even interested in having a conversation with her.
“Having children.” she replied flatly “I discovered something while you were away.”
“I was away for some hours Omo. You cut short my visit to the person I care about the most.”
“I apologize. I was helping the enemy Jessa.”
“You were helping the people of Amei? Great! Anymore secret?” I asked, forcing a smile.
“I thought I killed anjes for their evil nature.”
“Yeah you did so what’s wrong? I know killing them was wrong. Everyone has the right to live.”
“That’s not what I mean Jessa; I killed sickle cell patients all in the name of justice.”
I wasn’t ready to start arguing so I just listened while Omo did the talking.
“Anjes are different from sickle cell patients. Anjes exist and the Amei people are a living proof, anjes are evil but sickle cell patients are innocent.”
“How did you come to this conclusion?” I asked, not hiding my irritation.
Omo went on to tell me of how she brought in some medical laboratory scientists to collect blood samples of Ane indigenes. Omo even went as far as abducting some Amei indigenes.
“So what did you find out? And how and when did you conduct the so called exercise?” I asked.
“There is a huge difference in their Red blood cells. Most Amei indigenes have robust red blood cells, spherical to be precise. Some have the sickle cell trait.”
“Interesting Omo but…..”
“Ane indigenes have sickle red blood cells and Most of them have the trait.”
“Are you sure of what you are saying? I still don’t believe you.”
Omo looked offended so I apologized and shut my mouth. Omo’s eyes were teary
“I have been killing sick people all my life. I claimed to hunt down anjes but I was killing innocent people.”
“This proves that Tena’s so called spell or curse did nothing.”
“What if it did? What if the curse made most Ane indigenes sickle cell anaemic?”
“Sickle cell is endemic in sub saharan Africa. Mason is suffering from Beta thalassemia and he is from Greece. Thalassemia is like a sister to sickle cell anaemia. You can’t blame everything on witchcraft.”
The guilt Omo was feeling blinded her sense of reasoning. I didn’t care.
“So dear great grandmother, will marrying the prince of Amei fix the haemoglobins of the Ane people?”
“No.” replied Omo “Tena’s ally is Amei, Ane’s older brother. She wants to destroy Ane’s descendant because of the misunderstanding she had with Ane. Tena won’t stop until she decimates Ane, she turned Amei against Ane.”
“Then I think restoring the unity between Ane and Amei will solve the problem. Tena won’t get what she wants. Taking revenge on the people of Amei is preposterous.”
“That’s why you have to marry Prince Ari so that the union will bring about a child of peace. This will signify the end of the rivarly between them and us.”
“Omo there is a problem here. You and Tena want the same thing, my marriage to Prince Ari.”
Omo hesitated before answering my question. She probably knew that I would go ballistic. Omo told me about Tena’s plans to win Mason’s heart and I just laughed it off. I called it a bluff
“Do not underestimate Tena, she is very lethal.”
My heart sank, the thought of losing Mason to that idiot called Tena was scary but I was banking on Mason’s love for me to do the magic.
“I’ll marry Prince Ari but I will not bear him a child. I will fake my death after 1 year of marriage and go back to Mason.”
We got to Ane very late. We could not go to Gran’s house so we stayed in a cottage till the next day. I could not sleep; I remembered the small pink box. When I opened it, I saw a charm anklet and a small note. Four charms were attached to the anklet; heart, ermine, lioness and dove. I read the note aloud.
“The heart charm represents our hearts merged into one. The lioness represents you. You are filled with strength. The ermine represents purity, our love is purity filled and I am positive that it will overcome any obstacle. The dove represents peace because this trying time will cease and peace will abound in your life and mine”
I wore the anklet on my left ankle and vowed never to take it off. The next day Prince Ari came as Omo had said. I tried to be on my best behaviour but Prince Ari did something that exacerbated me. He sent me a dress which I rejected outrightly; I felt he assumed that I didn’t have good clothes. I wore one of the clothes Gran made me.
Mena dragged me to the kitchen; the aroma in the kitchen nauseated me. I was too sad to eat; food was like poison to me. I barfed after I managed to eat, I could not get anything to stay in my stomach. Prince Ari came later in the day and asked me to marry him.
“From where I come from, dating comes first before marriage. I can’t accept your proposal.” I said.
“My father is keen on meeting you. There is this news that has been flying around, it’s about you.”
“What news Prince Ari?”
“That you are the great grand daughter of Omo. How true is that?”
I wasn’t pleased about my cover been blown. I nodded and he seemed nervous.
“You see my Prince, we should not get married. Omo was ruthless towards your people. Her blood flows through me.”
“Nonsense! I sort of admire her. A brave woman is priceless.”
“Your father won’t be pleased when he finds out that you have taken interest in the great granddaughter of a tyrant.”
All my pleas fell on deaf ears; the fact that I was related to Omo dazzled him. He begged me to follow him to Amei. I wanted to refuse but when I remembered Omo’s words, I changed my mind. Omo came around, to Prince Ari, she was Oris’ friend. She gave me a look that made me shiver.
I knew what that look signified. It was the screw-up-and-you’re-toast look. I swallowed hard and bade all of them goodbye (Mena, Oris and Omo). When we got to the lake separating Ane from Amei, I felt like going back. Prince Ari’s guard blocked my way.
“Having second thoughts my dear?” Asked Prince Ari
“Yes.” I replied
“I won’t force you then. You can leave.”
I was stunned, I was about to speak when I saw Omo. She looked petrified and her eyes pleaded with me to go with Prince Ari.
“You did not allow me to finish my sentence. I meant to say that I am having second thoughts about my outfit, I am sorry for ditching the dress you sent me.” I lied.
“Not to worry, that can be fixed.”
Omo smiled and waved, she left immediately. When I saw the vessel that was waiting to take us to Amei I froze. It was so beautiful
“W-Where did you get this?”
“It was made in Amei; we make the best vessels, boats and canoes. This one’s exclusive to the royal house of Amei.”
“Tell me about Amei.” I said
“Why don’t we go in first?”
When we got to a cabin which I presumed to be my room, I told him that I had not accepted to be his bride
“I came along because I couldn’t refuse the king of Amei.”
“I will change your mind Jess.”
I was irritated that he called me Jess because only Mason and my immediate family called me that. Prince Ari was far from family.
“Don’t call me that, it is Jessa not Jess.”
“I like Jess better and that’s what I’ll call you. No more arguments on this matter.” he snapped
I wanted to smack him. He spoke like I was a slave.
“If I am going to be your bride which I doubt, you’ll have to treat me better, I am no slave. My name’s Jessa and you have no right to change my name. I don’t care whether you are the prince of the world.”
“Omo in flesh and blood” he smiled “follow me. I need to show you something.”
We got to a cabin that looked more magnificent and he told me that was his. We went in and I discovered that it had about 4 rooms. He went into one of the rooms and beckoned to me to follow. When I entered I saw a giant bed and he told me to sit.
“That chair’s fine.” I replied gesturing at the wooden chair nearby.
“You are scared of me.”
Prince Ari looked pleased that I was scared.
“I am not scared of you!”
“Prove it Jess, come and sit right by my side.”
I went and sat beside him, I was so stiff. He just kept smirking and it was exasperating. He brought out a wooden box and handed it to me “I hope it’s comfortable.” He said. I opened it and discovered that it was a dress. I was not interested in wearing it but I had already lied that I hated what I was wearing so I had to keep up with my lie.
“Go to the inner room.”
Reluctantly, I went there and changed. I could not believe my eyes. It was a gown that had exposed my midriff and I didn’t really like it. I stormed out to inform him about my disdain for the gown but the look he gave me quenched what I intended to say.
“I can’t wear this.”
“You’ll wear it Jess because it’s beautiful and you look so nice in it.”
I was tired of arguing, I noticed him staring and I felt like disappearing.
“Please stop doing that.”
“I am doing no wrong. I am only admiring the maker’s work.”
I repeated what I just said and he bluntly refused to stop staring. I decided to change the subject, I asked him to tell me about Amei and he told me that in order for him to tell me about Amei he would have to stare.
“Fine Prince Ari, show me to my room.”
When I was alone, I relaxed and dozed off immediately. I avoided Prince Ari for the rest of the day. When it was time for lunch I declined. I knew that I could not hide forever.
It hit me that I did not bring anything along, I was mad at myself. I took a tour around the cabin, it had 2 extra rooms. In of the rooms, there were clothes neatly folded in a large wooden box. On a table was a large glass jar filled with green liquid. When I opened it, it smelt minty. I saw other stuff but the rumble in my stomach didn’t let me check them out. I left the cabin in search of the kitchen; I could take the hunger no more.
I saw Prince Ari’s personal guard and he didn’t say a word. I kept walking and I didn’t realise when I bumped into Prince Ari. He asked if I was tired of hiding and I denied it vehemently. I didn’t want to tell him I was hungry, I was shy.
“You need to eat, you skipped lunch and I wasn’t happy about that. I love my women well fed.”
He held my wrist and led me to a place that I presumed to be the dinning. I couldn’t eat in his presence and I think he understood. When he left under the excuse of having work to do I rejoiced. After he left, I finished my food and asked for more. I did not see him again till the next day.
Prince Ari came to fetch me and I apologized for my unruly behaviour and he dismissed my apology and said I should never apologize for being me. He also apologized and said we should start afresh. He noticed the anklet for the first time and I told him the truth. He assured me that he was going to win my love and I didn’t want to sound annoying so I shut my mouth. He was bare chested and I could not stop staring at the tattoo on the right portion of his chest.
“The sigil of the Amei people, you’ll get one once you become my wife.”
“No thank you. I am not a fan of tattoos.”
Prince Ari was awfully nice; I told him that he deserved a better lady. He told me I was the best lady for him. I didn’t want to ask if he had fallen in love with me but I suspected it. We had fried yam, roasted fish and some greens for breakfast. I ate slowly. I stayed locked up in my cabin. At sunset, a maid brought in a large basket of food.
She dropped it and left immediately and I didn’t get to see her face or thank her. I opened the basket and found a bowl that was covered. The bowl was filled with pepper soup filled with fresh fish and prawns. My appetite was huge and I took the wooden spoon in the basket and took a spoonful. Prince Ari ran in shouting, he was so angry and sad when he discovered that I had taken a few spoons. He slapped the bowl from my hands. I was so exasperated, I just stared at him. He left and came back with a maid.
“Make all these disappear” he screamed, gesturing to the spilled soup and bowl.
I waited patiently for the maid to finish clearing the mess, when she left I asked Prince Ari to explain the drama that had just taken place. He simply held my right wrist and led me out of the room. There were other guards and maids waiting in the dining room. I thought Prince Ari had heard another gossip about me. He addressed the maids and guards.
“Someone tried to poison my wife.” He began, with a tone that scared the crap out of me.
Written by Kezi Angela Patrick