CURSE OF THE FULL MOON – CHAPTER TWO
The Amanze Beast was the fastest and most agile creature upon the surface of the earth. It was also the most cruel and damned of them all. It had the powers of keen sight, as it could see as far as a mile in clear details. It also had the power of smell, and it could pick out scents and track them with impeccable precision. It also had the power of strength and could fell a great Oak tree with a single swoop of its claws.
The woman had no chance to escape the Amanze Beast, and within a minute of racing after its quarry the Amanze Beast was upon the woman.
The woman ran between trees, screaming a man’s name. She looked up, where the Beast was leaping between treetops, gaining on her. She spotted the Beast and screamed in terror, putting more force to her already feeble legs.
The Amanze Beast leapt from the trees to the ground, intercepting her in her path. The woman came to a stop and put forth her hands as though bidding it to stop.
The Amanze Beast sneered and howled at the moon, the lady’s insolence angering it.
“Emeka, stop, it’s me, Wura,” the woman cried in a tepid tone.
The Amanze Beast ignored her devilish words and took some steps in her direction. Its eyes had zeroed in on her right neck, where it would sink its fangs and rip out her throat and chew upon it.
The Beast crouched on the ground and made ready to leap, when it sensed another behind him. Before it could turn to gaze upon the second or spring upon the lady, it felt an arrow embed itself in its lower back.
The Beast howled in outrage, turned, and sprang into the air towards the lone archer standing on the large rock behind. The archer himself leapt into the air towards it. By the time they met in the air, the Beast was already paralyzed by the poisoned arrow and so the man caught him by his hairy neck and smacked it towards the ground. The pain of the impact threw the Amanze Beast into a swoon.
Before, however, it fell unconscious, it heard the woman say to the archer, whose face was hidden beneath a cloak, “You saved my life, Lekan. Thank you.”
Then the archer said, “I live only to serve your family, your highness.”
And the whole world descended into darkness.
Emeka woke with a terrible headache and a bad pain in his lower back. When he opened his eyes, he immediately recognized his room and that it was noon. He was back at his father’s palace. He tried rising to a sitting position, but the pain overwhelmed his body and he collapsed unconscious again.
The next time Emeka woke, it was dead in the night. There was a blazing lamp somewhere in his room. His five brothers and two sisters were standing around his bed, looking at him with compassion.
He was about to ask them why they had this look on their faces, but then he remembered the events of last night. Wura…
He shot to a sitting position. This time the pain had melted away and he was ably strong. “Wura!” Emeka yelled, confusion and panic bleeding into his heart profusely.
“Calm down, Emeka!” said Amara, one of his sisters. “You’ll unwittingly reveal your secret to father.”
Emeka felt tremendous pain in his heart, and his head swirled. Tears brimmed in his eyes, and he could picture Wura’s shredded body lying bloodied by the sea.
“What happened?” Emeka said, his voice cracked.
“Look, Emeka, Wura is safe,” said Onyebuchi, the first born and crowned prince.
Emeka instantly felt relief flood his heart. “She’s safe?” he asked.
His siblings nodded in unison.
“Apparently, she had a guard around with an arrow dipped in a paralytic. You were paralyzed before you could harm anyone.”
Emeka began to relax.
“But what did you think you were doing?” asked Chinonso, the second born and Captain of the King’s Guards. “You could have gotten yourself exposed. Or worse, you could have killed Wura and sparked a violent war between us and the Elekkians.”
Emeka shook his head. He was suddenly aware of how famished he was. His tongue was parched, as was his throat.
“I am sorry brothers and sisters,” Emeka said. “I didn’t realize it was a full moon tonight.”
Amara sighed and stroked his face. “One of the reasons we have been very powerful is because all the kingdoms fear the Amanze Beast. The moment people find out you are the Amanze Beast, your life will be in danger. You have to be careful, nna.”
Emeka nodded at his sweet little sister. She was the second to the last born. The last born, Chineye, remained in the corner, silent. She, Amara, and Emeka were the last three children of their father and hence had formed a very strong bond.
“Come, let us leave Emeka to rest,” said the Crowned Prince, and with that they all filed out of his room, except Chineye. She came closer to him, and he could see she had been crying.
“I’m fine, Chi-Chi,” Emeka said to her. Chineye was only sixteen year of age, and she could be an emotional wreck sometimes.
Chineye didn’t respond. She impulsively hugged him and ran out of his room. Emeka smiled, and soon enough he fell into a deep sleep.
The next morning, Emeka was feeling like himself again. By midday he was walking towards the throne room, where father had called a meeting. This meeting involved all royal children, military generals, and elder statesmen.
Emeka was late for the meeting, which had progressed a long way. When he walked in, his father was speaking.
“And now to the last point, it has come to my attention that the Sabontashis and the Elekkians are planning an alliance,” the king said. This spurred a murmur among the gathering.
The king continued, “This alliance is to be sealed by a union of marriage between royal offspring of the two kingdoms. Now I need not say how bad this alliance will be for us, since these two kingdoms are the only kingdoms, out of the seven kingdoms that can challenge our authority. If they should become allies, we will be crushed and we will become their slaves.”
And then they was an outcry amongst the generals. Some called for them to go to war before the alliance was sealed. The statesmen called for brokering a truce with the two nations before their alliance to prevent any attacks. Arguments ensued.
The king allowed this to go on for a while. Then through the crowd, his eyes found Emeka’s eyes in the back of the throne room. Emeka became rigid for a moment, then he frowned… his mind began to race. Union? Marriage?
The king looked away and said, “We need to find out the details of the marriage and we need to foil it in such a way that the two nations distrust each other and never consider alliance.”
The people gathered agreed with their king.
“Crown Prince Onyebuchi,” the king said.
Onyebuchi shot to his feet beside the king.
“You will lead this mission,” the king said.
Onyebuchi nodded vigorously, his regal robes fluttering.
“Sabotage the wedding. Bring victory to us and glory to my name.”
Onyebuchi said, “Yes, my king.” And he sneaked a glance at Emeka, which confirmed Emeka’s growing suspicion. Wuraola…
Emeka was already out the door before the king dismissed the host. He was running through the massive palace towards the stables, and he could hear Onyebuchi shouting for him to stop. But Emeka wasn’t listening. He had to see Wura. He had to be sure she wasn’t leaving him for another man. He had to be sure.
Emeka burst into the stables, and saw Muriel standing in the middle of the corridor, facing the open doorway. It was a white female horse, and one of the fastest in his father’s stable. A stable boy was leading it into a cage, when Emeka yelled for the boy to halt. Without thinking, Emeka mounted the horse.
“Hiya!” he yelled, and the horse raced out of the stables.
“Emeka, don’t!” Onyebuchi yelled behind.
Emeka craned his neck to look over his shoulder. Onyebuchi was receding at a fast pace, and in the background was the colossal palace of the Amanze Kingdom. “I have to be sure, brother!” And he turned a bend and galloped in the direction of the border.