In this scene, Nagudia, the bronze caster and warrior (hero) has an early visitor to his workshop. I want you meet, Uvbi's (heroine) step brother. He has a message for Nagudia.
Cowries from a Prince is set in the ancient City of Igodomigodo in the 1700s.
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‘May today bring good tidings from our forefathers,’ declared Osarevbie, one of Uvbi’s stepbrothers.
Nagudia set aside the crossbow in his grasp. ‘That’s a good wish from your mouth this morning, Osarevbie. I hope all is well. You have missed your bronze casting lessons for two market days.’
Uvbi's stepbrother's eyes squinted at him, his jaw tight as a conga drum.
‘Good morning, Nagudia. I have come here with a heavy heart,’ the young man said, his words sounded forced from his mouth.
Nagudia swung his head round and caught his apprentice, Aisosa stretching his long neck in their direction.
‘Can we speak privately?’ Osarevbie asked, frowning at the intrusion.
Nagudia took in a deep breath. Judging the young man had a lot to say, Nagudia cleared his throat. Turning to his apprentice, he said.
‘Aisosa, I want to go for a short walk. Tell anyone who stops by I’ll be back in a little while.’
‘Yes, master,’ his giraffe-necked apprentice answered.
Nagudia frowned at Aisosa and he bent his head, taking a deep interest in his well-worn woven slippers to avoid his master’s disapproving stare.
How many times have I told Aisosa not to call me master?
Nagudia walked down Igun street with a stiff-lipped Osarevbie by his side. He greeted the palm wine tapper delivering kegs of palm wine at the door step of the Palm Wine Bar.
After a while, the silence worried Nagudia.
‘What troubles you? Osarevbie, speak. I’m all ears. Bare your mind.’ Nagudia urged as they strolled past Dr. Eze’s Herbal Medicine clinic.
‘It is my father. He...he plans to...to punish Uvbi in the most cruel manner in this kingdom within the next market day.'
Nagudia halted under the large pear tree by Uselu junction. His head weighed a ton as though a huge coconut cut open his brain.
The scorching heat and hot breeze blew away his dread. For a long time, he rocked on his heels as blood rushed here and there in his chest.
Nagudia's worst fear had been confirmed. Outside her Edokpayi's compound, Uvbi had mentioned her father's threat - I will hold you responsible if my father carries out his threat, and she had laid the blame at his boot-clad feet.
When he had rescued Uvbi in the bush path four sunsets ago and marched her to her father's compound, he hadn't meant to cause her grief. Since then, her piercing dark eyes have tormented him day and night and her angry words followed him everywhere.
And her heaving chest left him breathing too fast now and again. Not to mention her generous hips and legs that could turn a man's good heart into a sinful cave.
When he turned round, the grief-stricken look on Osarevbie’s face almost broke his stony heart.
Copyright Stella Eromonsere-Ajanaku 2014
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