Chapter 13: Thirteenth Phase.1

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

Reads: 71

Prince Etegah sat cross-legged on an embroidered cushion on the woven rug in the center of the gazebo, the custom-made Agidigbo atop his lap. The body of the rectangular box instrument was engraved with horses, the wood and flexible metal bars—nailed so they hung over the hole in the center—polished to a high sheen. He plucked the bars, drumming the wood of the hollow box at the same time to produce a smooth, bouncy rhythm. An instructing official of the Bureau of Music and Royal Performers sat on a cushion adjacent him, playing the Agogo bells in tune.

They were on the grounds of the Palace of Filial Promise, Prince Etegah’s residence, in a gazebo situated in the middle of a pond of water lilies. The heat of the early morning sun was not yet unpleasant, and the pond’s surface mirrored the sky, glistening clear blue and nestling the pure white petals of lilies in place of clouds. The music wove through the balmy air like a refreshing breeze, and Princess Ada stepped to the beat of the instruments as she strolled about the periphery of the gazebo, listening as Prince Etegah composed a new song with the aid of the official.

She smiled, thinking that the image of Prince Etegah sitting in the middle of a gazebo and gently plucking an Agidigbo did not fit the court’s perception of him. To be sure, he was a prickly character who suffered neither fools nor foolery, but what many did not know was that he was, indeed, quite gentle. As much as he enjoyed hunting and racing, he adored composing lyrics and music, and played several instruments with mastery. But because he had no art in expressing his affections, and in fact guarded himself from doing so, he earned the reputation of a brute.

Prince Etegah paused to record the notes he just played, and Princess Ada said, “I am truly worried, Etegah. Yesterday afternoon, I sought an audience with Sovereign Brother at the Hall of Solar Reflections, but he was not there. Which was odd, for he always reviews reports and answers correspondences at that time.” Princess Ada perched on the gazebo’s built-in bench, running a hand through the curtain of aquamarine and white jade beads that surrounded them, the beads clinking cheerfully. “I did not fret, however, for even Oghene rested on the seventh day, and Heaven knows Sovereign Brother deserves a break more than anyone. I proceeded to the Palace of the Abiding Sun, but when I arrived at Sovereign Brother’s palace, I was greeted by Eunuch Edewor and he informed me Sovereign Brother did not wish to be disturbed. Tch!” she wrinkled her nose, brushing her long sable locks from her face as a breeze whistled by. “Sovereign Mother may give us the cold shoulder, but Sovereign Brother has never once denied us audience! I knew immediately he had disappeared again with Eunuch Iroro, for he, too, was not about.”

Prince Etegah looked up sharply from his composition, shooting Princess Ada a glare.

“What?” she questioned pertly.

He quickly shifted his gaze to the official beside him.


He set aside his quill pen and note, addressing the official, “You are dismissed, Oga Fejiro. We shall continue in ten minutes.”

“Yes, my lord.” The official set the bells down and bowed out of the gazebo.

When he had reached the end of the boardwalk leading to the banks of the pond, Prince Etegah turned to Princess Ada with a scowl. “Heed your words, Ada! What do you mean they disappeared?”

Princess Ada rolled her eyes, coming to settle beside him on the cushion the official vacated. “Do not feign ignorance with me, Etegah. You know it will not work.”

His scowl was unrelenting, his dark eyebrows lowered guardedly.

Princess Ada shifted in her seat, deciding to change tactics; Prince Etegah would only close up further if she attacked him outright. She softened her tone. “I am sure you know more of this matter than I do—Sovereign Brother and Eunuch Iroro’s frequent…absences from the Inner Palace. There has been more than one occasion on which I visited his palace only to be waylaid by Eunuch Edewor, the insolent blatterer. But anyone could see from his nervous rantings that he was trying to hide something. That is, Sovereign Brother’s absence.”

Prince Etegah looked pointedly at her. “The entire kingdom is Ovye’s domain, needless to speak of the Inner and Outer Palaces. There is no place he cannot tread.”

Princess Ada puffed impatiently but remained calm. “Yes, but where in the Inner or Outer Palace might he have occasion to tread in the dead of night, and with no attendants save Eunuch Iroro?”

Prince Etegah’s jaw clenched, his gaze falling from hers.

Seeing his guard waver, Princess Ada leaned close, accusing, “You know something.”

He scowled briefly at the Agidigbo in his lap, then eyed his sister with renewed fortifications. “I know nothing. Now kindly take your leave so I may continue my composition in peace!”

He reached for his pen and note, but Princess Ada snatched the set from the rug and out of his grasp. She countered his glare with mellowed tone and rounded eyes which twinkled with the golden hue of imperial topaz. “Etegah, I know you make it your business to know all you can about Sovereign Brother’s activities, that you might aid him when he requires. It truly worries me that he vacates his palace so frequently in the evenings, and without guards or proper attendance.” She imbued her voice with concern, knowing this, if anything, would strike a chord with the unyielding prince, “He has only just begun to take command of the court; we cannot allow for anything to become an obstacle in his path!” Prince Etegah’s brow twitched and sunk lower. Hooked! she thought as she finished, “If there is something you know of that may be troubling our Sovereign Brother, please inform me, that I might lend my assistance, as well.”

Prince Etegah contemplated his instrument with heavy concentration. When he turned to the princess, his brown eyes were intent. “You might dissuade him.”

Princess Ada leaned forward with open ears even before Prince Etegah set aside his Agidigbo and nodded her closer, her gleaming amber eyes revealing her eagerness. And as she listened, they grew wide, her mouth falling in scandalized wonder.

Submitted: July 28, 2019

© Copyright 2020 OE. All rights reserved.


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