Chapter 1: (v.3) First Phase.3 (Continuation)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 96

The next day, Emeravwe awoke with a crushing headache. She screamed and thrashed in bed, her body racked with shivers and clothes soaked through with cold sweat. Agaenaye Uche immediately notified Aye Omojewe, and the Aye had Emeravwe moved to the Palace Infirmary where she remained with high fever and delirium for more than a week. Her dreams were fitful and filled with visions of a man in brown robes, a woman holding a child and soldiers brandishing swords. These images made her cry out in her sleep, the intense headaches that followed causing her to lose consciousness on more than one occasion.

When she finally regained full consciousness, Emeravwe awoke to the dim candlelight that illuminated her room in the Palace Infirmary. A moth circled around, dancing with the flame of a candle mounted on the wall. Though a dull headache throbbed at her temple, she found herself enthralled by the moth’s dance. It shimmied around the flame, drawing near then retreating, then near again, as if it knew certain death awaited it at the flame’s center, yet could not resist its beatific glow. As Emeravwe watched this perilous waltz, a strange anxiety began to build in her. She was unable to understand why the scene frightened her, but as she watched, she unconsciously probed her thoughts, circling her mind as the moth circled the flame: high-strung, searching, hoping.

The moth’s wings touched the light and burst in flames, and Emeravwe’s thoughts were rebuffed by darkness. There was nothing there.

The flame was an empty promise which brought only death, and Emeravwe’s mind was a dark void revealing nothing no matter how she circled it. Her pulse quickened, her vision blurring as panic rose within her. Her breath caught in her throat, the headache at her temples intensifying—and she could not escape, could not comprehend the deep void of her mind. She gasped for air, clutching at the sheets which covered her as she thrashed her legs.

It was then that she felt hands enclose around hers, a gentle voice flowing into her in soft chants. She let the voice drown out the overwhelming blankness of her mind, concentrating on its warmth instead of the dark abyss around her. Her vision came into focus again and she found four women in deep blue garments by her bedside. One of them sat on the cot holding her hand, her head bent in prayer, while the other three stood over her with concerned expressions. Emeravwe groaned at the throbbing in her head.

“Omote Emeravwe, you are awake? Oh, Oghene be praised!” the woman sitting on the cot cried, squeezing Emeravwe’s hand. She whirled to face the three other women, gushing, “Aye Adewemimo, Aye Uchechi, Aye Tambara, look! The nurse said she would lose her life since her fever would not subside, but look, she is saved!”

“Compose yourself, Aye Omojewe!” Aye Adewemimo reprimanded, “How dare you show such disregard for the Rode Aye?”

Aye Omojewe rose, bending her knees before the three women. “May you forgive me, Rode Aye. I was so glad at the child’s recovery that I lost my composure.”

“Be at peace,” Aye Adewemimo replied. “We shall excuse you this time.”

Miguo, Honored Maidens,” Aye Omojewe greeted and rose.

Aye Adewemimo approached the cot. “Well done, child,” she said. “Oghene will surely reward you for evading death’s grasp. How do you feel? Do you remember where you are?”

Emeravwe blinked against tears, staring vacantly at the women. She did not recognize any of them. She began searching through her mind again and moaned at the sharp pain that rippled through her skull.

“There now, Emeravwe,” Aye Omojewe cooed, settling again beside her and taking her hand. “It is all right; you are in the palace.”

“E-Eme…ravwe?” She looked at Aye Omojewe through anxious gray eyes. She struggled to sit up, her eyes darting between the four women, taking in the dimly lit room. Panic began to rise in her again. “The palace?”

The women turned to one another, their looks of relief becoming disquieted. The gangly Aye Tambara stepped forward, leaning close. “Child, do you not recognize us? And your name, do you remember your name?”

Emeravwe stared at the women a moment, then slowly shook her head, her confusion evident in her desperate gaze. The women looked to each other with consternation.

“How…” Aye Uchechi began, blue eyes baffled, but could not finish for she saw the other Maidens wore the same expression.

Ogheneme!” Aye Omojewe invoked. “It seems she does not remember anything.” She turned to the Rode Aye. “We must inform her family of this development. Surely, they will be able to provide her proper care.”

The Rode Aye looked to one another, the candlelight of the infirmary room shrouding their faces in shadows. Aye Adewemimo answered Aye Omojewe, “The identity of this child’s family is unknown to us. We received her from a palace guard who found her alone in the Court of Permeance.”

“The entrance courtyard? She was lost?” Aye Omojewe rose to her feet, bewildered. “Why was her family or escort not located?” She turned a doubtful eye on Emeravwe. “How can we allow a child of unknown background into the palace at such a time?”

Aye Uchechi sent Aye Omojewe a warning look.

“Aye Omojewe, would you have us cast out a helpless child?” Aye Tambara demanded. “And she is obviously of noble birth—she would surely starve on the streets.”

“But it is because she is of noble birth that I protest! We cannot allow her to stay and risk—”

“Silence!” Aye Adewemimo commanded and Aye Omojewe shrank. “On whose authority do you dare question the Rode Aye’s decision? How can we trust the Omote to your care if you allow fear to deprive you so easily of human compassion? From this day forward, you are relieved of your positions as Representative of Instructors and Chief Organizer of the Omotes’ lessons. Be sure to use the time I have liberated for you to regain your senses!”

“Well?” Aye Uchechi prodded, “Will you not show your gratitude?”

Browbeaten, Aye Omojewe bent her knees, bowing her head and cupping her hands. “I thank you for your consideration, Honored Maidens. I shall strive to further my devotion for the Omotes’ education.”

“Very well. Go now, and call for the nurse,” Aye Adewemimo dismissed her.

Once Aye Omojewe vacated the room, the Rode Aye turned wary eyes on Emeravwe. She cowed on the cot, her knees drawn to her chin, frightened tears streaming from her eyes.

“Should we not inform the Grand Eunuch of her condition?” Aye Uchechi asked.

Aye Adewemimo frowned down at Emeravwe. “Yes, we must do so in secrecy. He made it clear we are to conceal his connection to this child.”

Aye Tambara shook her head. “I, too, have my doubts about her origins, Aye Adewemimo. I fear she may be connected to the tra—”

Aye Adewemimo cut her off with a sharp look. “Beware of your tongue. Even if she is connected, do you have the courage to report this? With what authority will you go against the Grand Eunuch, and with how many lives will you escape the consequences?” The other two Rode Aye lowered their gazes, seeing reason in Aye Adewemimo’s words. “We must be cautious in our actions. A single mistake may cost us our lives, but opposing the wrong authority will lead us to the same fate. We must play the hand we are dealt and reap whatever rewards we can.”

The women turned to Emeravwe who huddled fearfully on the cot.

“Fear not, Omote Emeravwe,” Aye Adewemimo said. “The palace is your home now.”

Submitted: July 03, 2019

© Copyright 2020 OE. All rights reserved.


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