The cocks squawked all across Ajégúnlẹ̀ town and the sun clambered his zenith lazily. The grasses were moistured with the hazes that kept the sky overnight. Àyànwálé had been in the Palace at the first crow of the roosters. He went to Olorì Àwẹ̀ní’s chamber and found her awoken as if she knew that he was coming to her.
“You trust your friend, right?” she asked as Àyànwálé was plunging on the bamboo stool in front of her couch.
“Your highness” he prostrated. “…there’s no way a thief would rob an elder without a glimpse. There is a snake arm on this matter, my lord.”
“Hmm !! You are wise, my child. I thought as much. But, we shall see. Do you have a plan for your friend? She asked.
” You should trust me on this. We shall make this matter a midnight corpse, my lord. Because…”
“Because his safety is not sure in the exile?” she completed his intention.
“Exactly, your highness.” He bowed.
“Hmm !! Go and see to the matter and tell me anything you want as an assistant.”
He rose and found his way out. Olorì Àwẹ̀ní called him back and acquainted him that they should go to her paternal grandfather’s town which was about three towns away from Ajégúnlẹ̀. She gave him an emblem to be delivered to anyone in the king’s palace who was her favourite cousin. She was the that took care of him during his infancy.
Àyànwálé found his way out and swerved every possible eye that might be ogling him until he reached Oyèrẹ̀mí’s quarter. He met him weeping and lamenting.
[“What can not happen under the sky?”]
Asípa’s words were echoing in his eardrums from a very faraway world that was not his own. He developed a new headache. He clenched his head, flinched and sobbed bitterly till his face was filled with tears. He thought back to the time the king used to carry him on his neck, playing around his mother’s chamber when he was just a five-year-old kid. The hunting game. The tale nights while sitting on his lap trifling with the beads that drooped to his broad hairy chest. The wrestling in the palace and the pretending of his father to make him win. He screamed tawdry once again.
“It’s okay, Oyèrẹ̀mí!” Àyànwálé’s voice slung him back to life. “Everything would be fine. We need to make sure you are safe if to lay down our lives for you.” He said.
“Do I have any supporters?” he asked in distrust.
“Yes, you do. Your mother, your kid sister, your fiancé, Chief Ọtun, Aṣípa who just repent his sins, and myself. We shall make sure that you are safe for the safety of Ajégúnlẹ̀ town.”
Oyèrẹ̀mí seemed to be relieved of the pains knowing that there were people who still trusted him. He scoured his eyes and embraced Àyànwálé. He thanked him for his support. Then, he gave a deep sigh and informed him that he had ordered the burial of Àbẹ̀ní’s corpse on the banana plantation. Àyànwálé was not surprised because he knew that Àjọkẹ́ would have informed him about it since they were living together.
“You saved my life forever. Thank you, my best friend.” He hugged him.
Àyànwálé took his seat on his bed and told him about the plan and what his mother said. Oyèrẹ̀mí was very delighted yet felt dreadful when he thought about his mother’s mental health. Acting as a strong man, he asked Àyànwálé if they could embark on the journey that night.
“We should not leave the fire on the roof and keep snoring. You should have been in the town before tomorrow dusk.” He said.
Oil lamps were glowing in Olorì Àṣàkẹ́’s chamber. The frogs were busy croaking one after the other and an owl was hooting telling the heaven her secrets in the bush behind her room. She put all the expensive beads and clothes in some baskets beside her bamboo bed.
“Àlàrí” she called out to her favourite maid, a tall skinny fair gal.
Àlàrí was commandeered in a battle between her town, Asúnkúná and Ajégúnlẹ̀ town. She was a princess of the king. She was given to Olorì by Balógun Dúrójayé who sought her assistance to be in the post.
Meanwhile, Àkànjí of the Ìjàdúadé household was the next in line to be the Balógun of Ajégúnlẹ̀ town, but he was assassinated by Olorì Àṣàkẹ́ for Dúrójayé because he was an ally to Olorì Àwẹ̀ní.
“Oò! My Lord.” she ran with all her power to Olorì’s room. Àlàrí dared not to wait for a second after the call. She would die. Many a slave had been murdered by her in front of other slaves. She would strangle, shoot or beheaded them if they defied her decrees.
” Carry these baskets with other slaves and take them to our people’s home” she instructed. Àlàrí knew them. They were her hired assassins. She had taken Àlàrí to their hideout. They were the ones who killed Àkànjí and his only son in cold blood. Àlàrí knew everything because she trusted her. She promised her that she would be freed when his son became the king.
“Okay, my lord.” she packed them and did as she said. On her way back to the palace, she saw two figures coming from the bush that linked out of the palace. Despite the bright lights seeping from the full moon of the night, she could not recognize them from the distance. She winced behind an ìrókò tree and waited quietly to reach her side. Now they were three, other person joined them. He was like a person she had seen. They reached the ìrókò tree, the person was the one she had been crushing on. Her heart fluttered. It was beating repeatedly beyond the pace. She was having a strange feeling. Feelings of pain, satisfaction and anxiety. She couldn’t hold it any longer. She was dying in silence. She dashed out behind them, muttered all the universe’s courage,
“Àrẹ̀mọ Oyèrẹ̀mí!!” she called out.