Chapter 14: (v.2) Fourteenth Phase.2 (Continuation)

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

Reads: 65

Emeravwe understood why Mudiaga would not want to be linked to such a clan, but her mind lingered on the subject as they walked on. She wondered what occurred during the Insurrection of Nobles. The event, being recent, was not recorded in the Four Classics, which only detailed Xxene’s early history, and until today she had never heard of it. Seeing as Aye Chioma and Eunuch Otase were so anxious about the topic, there must still be fresh wounds from the incident. Aye Chioma even said that Okémeh protested the Insurrection of Nobles in the marketplaces. She wondered if the past incident was somehow related to their current case.

At the first home they came to, a footman with a yellow apatite opened the gates, and when they entered the compound, he stopped Mudiaga in his tracks.

“Please wait out here, Oga.”

Mudiaga nodded to Emeravwe and Agaenaye Fatima. “I’ll look around and see if I can find any servants to interview.”

Emeravwe looked from the footman to Mudiaga, confused. “We should greet and speak with the lord of the home first.”

“Yes, you and Fatima go ahead.” She looked bewildered at his insistence, and Mudiaga said, “You know they won’t let me in.”

She studied him, taking in his guard uniform and the sword at his belt. “Because you are an officer?”

They all eyed her quizzically.

“Ah! That’s right!” Mudiaga chuckled. “I forgot you’ve been sheltered in the palace.” He spread his arms, indicating not only the compound, but all of Xxene, it seemed. “This is how things are outside the Sun’s Court. An Ehwoéki, or anyone lower, can’t set foot in the District of Onorogu unless they’re employed in the district or have official business, like me. Even so, I can’t enter an Onorogu’s home without their expressed permission. And it’s only because I’m in uniform that I’m allowed through the front gate instead of the back.”

Emeravwe stared, dumbfounded. She looked skeptically from Mudiaga to Agaenaye Fatima and the footman, but their expressions corroborated his statement. She found herself at a loss. “Th-then let us go and ask permission!”

Mudiaga and the footman exchanged ridiculing glances, and he simply shook his head.

The footman stepped forward, bowing as he swept out a hand, indicating the path leading to the front door of the home. “This way, please, Agaenaye.”

As she and Agaenaye Fatima followed the footman, Emeravwe turned to Mudiaga. He gave her an unaffected smile and wink, then strode toward a side courtyard. She watched his tall figure and saw he held his head high and shoulders squared, and her heart swelled with both empathy and pride.

At all the homes they visited that day, Mudiaga received the same disdainful treatment. By the time they finished their interviews and walked through Joyovwi Market toward the palace, Emeravwe felt disheartened. The hierarchy in the palace was strict, with the ranks of Maidens, Eunuchs, and officials clearly defined, but she did not think it was so harsh as this. When she worked in the Bureau of Halls and Chambers she had been shunned and rejected by the other Maidens, but though they pushed her aside she always found her way back into their midst, so they had no choice but to eventually put up with her as an equal. Outside the palace, however, it seemed the social gaps were too great for anyone to make a leap between the classes.

As they walked through the market, Emeravwe stole glances at Mudiaga. Even after being repeatedly treated like a stray dog, he looked unfazed.

He caught her concerned looks and sighed. “If I reacted like you every time I’m treated like camel shit, I couldn’t live in this world.”


“I’ve told you already. Xxene is a kingdom built on the backs of the lower castes but run by the nobles for the nobles. I’ve lived in Jauba my whole life and it’s always been this way,” he said, referring to the capital city. “Just look how it’s laid. The Inner City is grand, with stately chapels, public parks and gardens and paved roads, but it’s only made up of the District of Onorogu and the Merchants’ District, where most of the Onéki live. Only two of the six social groups occupy half the city, while Ehwoéki, Ehworegha, Ivyogbere, and Wuhwuh are all limited to the Outer City and its fragmented cobbled roads and dilapidating buildings. Now ask yourself, who pays the most taxes and who works as street-runners to keep the Onorogu and Merchant’s Districts in pristine condition? It’s like this in all the eight provinces.”

As they entered the main market square, Emeravwe looked around the expansive esplanade. It was designed in a circular fashion, a neat lawn containing palm trees, flower beds, and a great fountain at its center. The rest of the square was paved with smooth concentric tiles. All around were stores, shops, and people. When she came to the market two years ago, she had been so thrilled to see so many people with different gems gathered in one place that she wanted to reveal her own ruby and join in what seemed like camaraderie. As she looked around the square now, she realized that had been a delusion. Those shopping around the square were Onorogu and Onéki; in tow were their lower caste servants, leading their horses and camels, carrying their sedans and bags, picking up waste and cleaning up after the animals around the square.

“I did not know,” Emeravwe said.

Mudiaga shrugged. “There’s a lot that’s not known inside the palace walls.”

Oga Mudiaga, you make it seem as if we Onorogu do nothing but abuse the lower castes,” Agaenaye Fatima spoke up, piqued. “I admit most Onorogu do not look kindly on the lower castes, but if it were not for us many would have no way of making a living. Not to mention that it is Onorogu who bring order and stability to the kingdom—you do not see any Ehwoéki or Ivyogbere in the palace making laws.”

 “That’s only a circumstance of the times,” Mudiaga rebutted, “it doesn’t mean the lower castes are inherently stupid and incapable of managing themselves as many Onorogu seem to think. We could go ‘round on this topic all night but let’s not. What’s important now is that we have the information on the victims.”

Emeravwe shook her head. “Agaenaye Fatima and I found no connections between the victims other than the fact that they all went missing within this market.”

Mudiaga smirked. “There really is a silver lining in all situations.” He pulled a small scroll from his pocket to show them. “There’re things servants see that their masters may not know or be too ashamed to mention. Take the missing husband of the Jakpor clan of the Iwaka tribe. What did his family say he did?”

Emeravwe took out her own notes. “He is the Chief of Police in the Petty Crimes Department of the Capital Police.”

Mudiaga clicked his tongue. “That’s all? They didn’t mention that he also runs a brothel in the Outer City? Or that he coerced women of the lower castes into prostituting themselves by threatening them with large fines or imprisonment for minor infractions?” Emeravwe and Agaenaye Fatima’s mouths dropped. He nodded. “And the Ochuko of the Bureau of Etiquettes, according to his servants, had a barbaric fascination with brawls and often made them fight for his entertainment. If they refused, they were beaten and dismissed. The other three victims also had such infamy among their servants.”

Emeravwe was horrified. “And none of them were reported?”

Mudiaga cocked his head, looking at her as if she were a brick wall. “You haven’t been listening. What’s the point of someone from a lower caste reporting an Onorogu?”

Xxene is run by the nobles for the nobles.

Mudiaga turned to Agaenaye Fatima. “No matter what you say Fatima,” he waved his scroll, “this is the reality of the lower castes.”

Agaenaye Fatima averted her eyes guiltily. Emeravwe lowered her head. So this is what he wants to change.

As they walked past the center of the square, the commotion of people flocking around caught their attention. A group was assembling, a few of the individuals carrying crates on which they stood so they could be seen over the gathering crowd. The men elevated above the rest shouted for everyone to gather around, proclaiming a message that must be heard. Emeravwe, Mudiaga, and Agaenaye Fatima paused to watch the scene, as did others around the square. Emeravwe noticed that those elevated at the center of the crowd, and most of those gathered, were a mix of Ehwoéki and others of the lower castes.

Mudiaga studied the crowd. “It’s a demonstration. But they don’t usually happen in the main square.” He looked apprehensively around. “This can’t end well.”

“Why?” Emeravwe asked.

Mudiaga’s answer was cut off as a man elevated at the center of the gathered crowd raised his voice, “How much longer will we go on ignoring the past yet looking forward to a bright future? How bright can our futures be when our past is shrouded in darkness? When your brethren crucify you for the sake of wealth and glory, the pain may dull with time, but the wounds remain! The sins of the past don’t disappear with time! Left unrectified they multiply and congregate like a flock of hungry vultures! We ignore them in our present state of ignorant bliss, but they’re swooping above us, casting shadows over our bright future! The great injustice that took place in this blessed kingdom ten years ago must not go unrectified! Eight great clans…”

A sudden thundering of footfalls rang through the square and a squad of officers in green uniforms swarmed in armed with clubs. Without pause or hesitation they rushed the gathered crowd, swinging their weapons and clobbering anyone they got their hands on. Yet the group did not scatter but attacked the officers with their bare hands and whatever else was in their possession. 

“I knew the Capital Police wouldn’t overlook a protest in the main square!” Mudiaga turned to Emeravwe and Agaenaye Fatima. “Let’s get out of here!”

But Emeravwe was frozen in shock as she watched the chaotic scene. The officers ruthlessly battered the protestors, and though they fought back, many fell with screams and gaping, bloody wounds. Horses, camels, carriages, and sedans rushed about the square as people hurried to get away, yet still more of the lower castes swarmed into the square to defend the protestors, throwing stones and other objects at the Capital Police. A wave of nausea overcame Emeravwe as people stormed around, and she staggered back, the officers’ green uniforms flashing before her eyes.

Hey!” Mudiaga shouted, pointing to a group of stone throwers. “That’s Kemo! What’s he—”

A scream erupted from Emeravwe as a shattering headache rippled through her skull. She held her head in pain and the world swirled around her, her vision blurring then fading black.

Submitted: August 02, 2019

© Copyright 2020 OE. All rights reserved.


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