I know she thinks I am sleeping, she has gotten used to me muttering in dreams so I do this not to arouse her suspicion. It won’t be long before she slips out of our bed and disappears into the night.
My heart aches with this thought. Have I not sacrificed enough? What else will this woman require of me?
I am King, born of royal blood, defeated by none but my woman yearns for another. She does not know I know. She thinks that I am unaware of the signs but only a fool will not see that this woman is in love.
Aicheni, you are truly unexpected, unpredictable and just like my mother forewarned, my death would be by your hands.
I hear her slip out of our bed and into the night, now I am allowed to sit up and stare in despair. What do I do? How do I find the root of this? I allow her a few moments before I leave the hut. How does she evade my guards? How does she move so silently? As if her delicate feet don’t touch the ground. How is she so smooth and silky to touch? That beautiful smile, those eyes that dig deep into your soul, will these be given to another?
I move quickly and quietly, I do not want to wake up the palace; doing so will attract the awareness that my wife is not in our marital hut. Who is he? Emoche how do you know she is going to another? She might be at the shrine? Why not the shrine at the palace? The other night she disappeared I checked the shrine and she wasn’t there. Why is she not worshipping at the palace shrine re? Maybe she needs privacy. I doubt it.
“Apeh” I whisper but loud enough so he can hear me, he is the only one I trust and the only one I can give this task to.
“Apeh” I call again, today he sleeps? I shake my head and enter his hut. Sprawled in between two maidens is my most trusted companion. I look at him in swift amusement; I must be quick as Aicheni’s trail may be cold by now.
I pat my man on the leg and as his eyes fly open I signal him to be quiet and point my head towards the outside of the hut. He follows, suavely removing himself from his maidens.
“Oche” he says and bows his head to the ground, “you have disturbed my enjoyment, what is the problem?”
“Oya, I need your help, please do not drown me with questions for now,” I say, “Aicheni has left the palace, follow her and find out where she is heading” I see the questions rise to his face but I dismiss him.
“Go now and please take no one with you, this should just be between the two of us” I say and turn away so he doesn’t see the shame already clouding my face. “Also, make sure she doesn’t see you.”
Aicheni, dark as the night and yet more beautiful than day. I remember the first day my eyes beheld her, her eyes held sadness that even when she smiled, you knew it was just her lips and not her soul. I was intrigued by her mystery but also pitied her suffering and I knew I had to make her mine. I had to take care of her, wipe the pain that held her bound, make her feel happy.
It was not an easy task. For one so broken, you have to take your time to mold her back again.
I had just been crowned King, and it was customary for the new King to have all the maidens in the kingdom visit the palace, it was called idumgun, an opportunity used to gift the King a new wife. She came into my presence with eyes up but staring at nothing in particular. Her beauty caught me at first but when I looked into those eyes there was something magnetic about her.
“Oche, may your reign be endless” she bowed, her voice was hoarse but I loved the sound of it.
“Arise” I said and pointed to the chair beside me, indicating that I wanted her to sit. I saw fear, worry and shock rise to her face but she did not say a word and sat where I demanded. There were gasps made around me but I knew no one would have the authority to question my decision. When the idumgun was over, I left her in the throne room knowing that she would be led to my inner room. A few moments later she entered.
“Sit” I said but she didn’t move from where she stood. “Did you hear me speak?” I asked, “I said Sit”
“Why did you do that?” she asked still standing in the same spot, “Why did you pick me?” I was lying in my favorite place which is draped with the skin of lions and antelopes I kill on my hunting journeys, I stood up, walked to where she stood and pulled her down with me on the skins.
“Other maidens would die to have this moment with me, yet you question me, your King about my decision.” I looked at her closely, eyeing my choice, she smelled like hibiscus and I liked it, I could feel my manhood stirring but I had to control myself. “Tell me your name“
“Aicheni” She whispered.
What an unusual name? I thought, no wonder the mystery, this woman, there was just something about her. I looked at her, still taking her in. Dark skinned with ears that curved in beautiful ringlets, lips, full and pout. Her neck, long and elegant extending to a back that was arched gracefully but rigid because she was sat next to me. I looked at the fingers, they were long and neatly trimmed; her legs curved by her side, showed the flexibility that she carried. This girl was beauty in its rawest form.
”Aicheni, what do you want to eat?” she shook her head “or drink?”
“I don’t want anything” she replied shifting slightly away from me, I smiled at her discomfort, this was what I enjoyed doing, claiming my price and opening it bits at a time.
“Are you afraid of me?” I asked amused and moved closer to her. This time she sat still. I let out a sigh.
“I chose you because you are different,” I said “I don’t know what it is but there is something about you that pulls me” I took her long fingers in my hand, they were warm, oh I wished I could kiss them.
“Tell me about yourself, why is your name Aicheni?”
“Apeh” He bows to the ground when he sees me, “Arise, you have been hiding from me, tell me, man, what you found out” His eyes dart around and I signal him to follow me. We walk for a while in silence until we are alone.
“Why have you been hiding?” I ask again dreading what the answer may be. I cannot bear to think that my wife is unfaithful.
“Oche, what my eyes see, my tongue cannot spit” he whispers “It is better for foolishness to be the wisdom in this matter” and tries to move away from me.
“Speak sense man and stop spitting parables my way” I roar angrily “what is this? I gave you a task, tell me what you found out” I turn roughly to him and grab him by the shoulder. “Did you see my wife with a man?”
“I saw her” he replies shaking, not allowing his eyes to rest on me, I can see the disgust in his face and I know that my worst fear is confirmed. I wait for the words to come “I saw her with ichimagi”
“ichimagi” I repeated, stunned and confused “I don’t understand Apeh” I let go of him. He stands there staring into nothing.
“Apeh, tell me who you saw my wife with” The dread in my voice is thick, ichimagi?
“She was with a man that is a woman” he replied spitting to the ground.