Chapter 11: (v.2) Eleventh Phase.2 (Continuation)

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

Reads: 88

Though Mudiaga was a horrid flirt, Emeravwe saw that he took his work seriously, as did the other members on the team. Agaenaye Fatima was a slim Maiden with a cheerful disposition who Emeravwe quickly warmed up to, but Agaenaye Ugonma, a plumper girl, was haughtily curt. Oga Adedire was cordial and seemed close with Mudiaga, and Eunuch Odeshi was a lanky, awkward fellow with a bit of a stutter. Contrary to how they seemed the morning Emeravwe joined them, they all worked quite well together, though there was constant tension between Mudiaga and Eunuch Otase.

Emeravwe spoke excitedly of the bureau and her new teammates when she met Aslan in their garden. She spoke especially of Mudiaga and his nonconformist personality, how he was antagonized by Eunuch Otase, and his ceaseless flirting. As she went on, Aslan’s expression deepened to a frown, so she added, thinking her mention of Mudiaga’s flirtatious behavior had upset him, “I make it a point to ignore him, though he does not make it easy.”

“Do you ignore him because he is flirtatious?” Aslan questioned.

Emeravwe paused. She did not sense any jealousy in his tone but was unsure how to answer.

“Or because he is an Ehwoéki?” 

Her face warmed with shame. Aslan was always like that—she told him one thing and he picked up another. She sat sheepishly on the bench, feeling like a child about to receive a lecture.

“There is nothing wrong with him being an Ehwoéki.” She said quietly, “I simply want to be careful of the people I associate with from now on. I am already a valued child with no background to speak of, I cannot allow for anything else to negatively affect me as I get closer to the Orodje.”

Aslan studied her pensively. “What of Agaenaye Akpokene? She is an Orhorho, is she not? Will you part ways with her, as well?” Emeravwe looked to him with surprise. He shrugged. “You intend to cut away anything that may seem a blemish, correct? In the eyes of society, an Orhorho is no different from a Wuhwuh. Did you not think of this?”

Her brow knitted. Of course, she had not thought of that. Akpokene was her only friend, apart from him, and they had bonded so strongly precisely because they were both shunned by others. To cut her off for the very reason she had been rejected would be too cruel. Moreover, she was not so cold-hearted that she could hurt a friend in order to achieve her own goals.

She looked abashedly at her feet. “Akpokene is not a blemish!”

“And Oga Mudiaga is?”

She remained silent.

Aslan continued, his voice growing cold, “If that is what you think, then you are mistaking. Ovye is not just ruler to the Onorogu; the other castes are also his subjects. And the position of a consort, while it is one of luxury, is also one of responsibility—a responsibility to serve all the people of the kingdom. If your intention is to aggrieve others in order to stand above them, then you are no different from Eunuch Otase.”

Emeravwe felt a stab. It was true she tried to disregard Mudiaga because of his caste and demeanor, but it hurt that Aslan would speak so harshly to her. She turned a glare on him, her tone permeated with hurt. “Is that what you think of me, Aslan?”

His stare mellowed. “Of course not. I know better than anyone how sweet a girl you are.” Her heart trembled, and she looked away. “I do not want you to forget it. You have been scorned by other Maidens as a valued child, so you understand what it is like to be rejected solely for being who you are.”

Which is why I am striving to be at the Orodje’s side—so no one can ever dismiss me.

Aslan went on, “You asked once how the lower castes can better themselves. It is up to us, who understand their struggles, to lend a helping hand. Disregarding someone simply because he is of a lesser caste will only exacerbate the problem.”

Emeravwe nodded contritely. She faced him, a thought occurring to her. “But Aslan, how is it that you have such notions about the lower castes?”

He blinked.

She leaned forward. “As the Onóturode’s son, you are the most privileged of all Onorogu, and you have lived in the palace as a Eunuch your whole life. How can you understand the struggles of the lesser castes?”

He shifted disconcertedly, as if caught unawares. “You see, my Sov—my father always stressed to me that with great privilege comes even greater responsibility. And my late mentor revealed to me the strife of the lower castes. He instructed that it is the role of the advantaged to serve those who are less fortunate.” His gaze softened as he watched her, his voice a bit somber, “I am sure he would be glad that I pass his teachings on to you. He always fought to improve conditions for the lower castes and to change our society.”

“Oh.” Emeravwe lowered her eyes from his doleful gaze. It sounded as though he dearly missed this mentor, but she could not think how to comfort him, so she said, “Mudiaga also spoke of change.”

Aslan’s brow fell suddenly in a scowl. “Mudiaga?”

Her eyes flew to his in alarm, then she quickly looked away again, her ears burning. She was careful to properly address him as Oga Mudiaga before but was inattentive just now.

Aslan leaned forward, eyes sharp. “You said you kept him at a distance, but perhaps I misunderstood. I thought mine was the only name you called.”

Emeravwe’s stomach flopped at his embarrassing words, his closeness making her nervous. She remembered how he had looked at her the night she became an Agaenaye, how softly he had kissed her brow. No. She scooched over on the bench.

“Well, what sort of change does this dallier, Mudiaga, speak of?” he asked, putting emphasis on Mudiaga’s name.

“He-he did not say.”

“Hm.” He watched her thoughtfully. “It may be difficult, but I shall have to arrange to see him.” She turned to him, dumbfounded, and he inclined his head, smiling sweetly. “He has made his interest known to you, so I must show him where my interests lie. He would be foolish to think me his rival.”

Emeravwe had no words to answer, and sensed she was in danger of being arrested by his gaze again, his sweet smile already drawing her in. She stood and excused herself before they veered further into dangerous territory.

Submitted: July 25, 2019

© Copyright 2020 OE. All rights reserved.


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