The previous day we had passed by some traders selling sunflower oil and other foods. We bought the oil and some rice from them. That evening, as Khuze and Ayamba sparred, I cooked stewed crocodile meat and rice. They had four rounds, each of them won two. Panting they trudged and sat down near the fires. A ghastly smell attacked my nostrils. I saw black spots as I fell to the ground. When I awoke it was midnight, the food I was cooking had been taken off the fire. Khuze was gone.
"Phoka, there are the only ones that use those fumes to incapacitate their enemies." Ayamba said.
"Or Khataza's daughter abandoned us." Mazaza said.
"She would not leave this." Ayamba unclasped his hand, in it was Khuze's necklace. How did they get this off of her? Luckily the fools had not taken the weapons in the cart. We made our way to their village which was at the side of a hill. We snuck past the sleeping huts. We were heading towards what we thought was the herbalist's hut.
"She is there." Mazaza said pointing at a pole in the middle of the village. Why was she out in the open? We hid ourselves behind a hut, watching to find the best time to attack. One of the soldiers who was watching over her left his post. I signalled to Mazaza and Ayamba to attack once he was out of sight. Mazaza threw his spear into the other soldier who was watching over Khuze. I released two arrows into the torso of the other soldiers. Ayamba placed his fighting stick on the ground and untied Khuze's restraints. She hugged him. Ayamba gave her satchel. We rushed outside the village. Outside the village's fence were seven guards holding long spears. I turned around to ran back into the village. Behind me were even more guards coming.
"Who would stand with Khataza's daughter?" A man who obviously their leader said. "Let her stay to face her father's crimes and we won't harm you."
"She is under the Council's protection." Ayamba explained to them that she was leading us to the plant cure.
"Our relations are already dead. We care not for the cure now." The leader retorted.
I stabbed the soldier next to me with one of my arrows, using my left arm to block a hurl from a long spear from the soldier in front of me. Mazaza stabbed the soldier closest to him with his long spear. He whirled himself around to face the three soldiers waiting to pounce on him. Khuze was throwing blades to the multitude of soldiers attacking us. Ayamba spun his stick around using it to hit the soldier closest to him. The man passed out. Ayamba turned to face his oncoming opponent. Most of them lay on the ground unconscious or dead. We would make it out of here alive. An object lodged itself underneath my ribs. I groaned and turned around. I hurled my spear into my attacker's head. Then fell to the ground. Chauta let me make it for Siopi.
"He is awake," Mazaza announced. I scanned the room, it was a small hut filled with paintings of different phoka spirits and Chauta on its wall.
An old woman with long locs flowing down her back, glanced down at me. "Don't move."
"How are you?" Ayamba asked, he was seated in front of me on a stool.
"I've been better." I replied. There was slight ache in my side. I must have been given an anaesthetic herb. The spear in my side was gone and in its place were stitches.
"They kidnapped you because you are Khataza's daughter?" I asked glancing up at Khuze who was seated on the stool next to Ayamba. Behind both of them were herbs hanging from the hut's walls.
"Yes. They had relations in Songani. They were going to kill me slowly so I could suffer like their loved ones." Khuze retorted.
"How did they know that you were his daughter?" I asked.
"I don't know but Nyauzembe here," She said looking at the old lady mixing herbs in a bowl. "Says that a lot of people in Utawaleza know I am still here and they want me dead."
"Oh," I tried to lift my body. Pain attacked my side.
The old lady slapped my arm. "Don't move. If you move again, I will sedate you. Now drink this." She knelt beside me, pouring the liquid into my mouth. It tasted vile. "It will replace the blood you lost. As I told Khuze, there will be more people coming for her. There is a way to end all this. Send a fake body to the Vukutu encampment holding the bounty that the aggrieved placed on your head."
"There is a bounty on her?" I asked.
Nyauzembe nodded her head. "Ten cows, all female with a cart full of iron, it's a collection of rewards from several aggrieved people."
"Where will you get the fake body?" Ayamba asked.
"The village nearby buried a girl Khuze's age yester'night. I will mask it to look just Khuze. Khuze and I will go tonight to get it."
"I will take the body to the Vukutu encampment holding the bounty." Mazaza said.
"You stay here, while me and Ayamba continue our journey. Abuya says you need rest and care." Khuze said.
"The agony in my side agrees." I chuckled.
We had a meal of squirrel meat and plantains. After it, Khuze and Nyazembe left for the graveyards.
"How long have I been out for?" I asked.
"A day," Mazaza retorted.
"How do they know each other?" I asked.
"She is the herbalist that made the charm that was around her neck. She is making another." Mazaza retorted.
Even in the dark, I could tell that she lived on a lonely part of the forest. "Why does she live here alone?"
"The villagers think her a witch because she was born with one eye." Mazaza said.
"If she was able bodied they would revere her as a healer but somehow that physical difference denotes wickedness." Ayamba said.
Mazaza lay down to sleep. I attempted to sleep too but I could not. Ayamba was still seated on the stool.
"You should be asleep." He said.
His eyes were fixed on the entrance of the hut. "They should have been back by now."
Mazaza's snoring grew louder.
"You like her."
He was silent.
"Aya, I heard you talking the night before she was kidnapped. You've told her things about you that I only learnt after years of knowing you. And you've known her a little over a month. I see the way you look at her, when you think no one can see. Your eyes are filled with attraction and infatuat..."
His shoulders tensed. "I am betrothed. You know that. Harbouring such feelings would be infidelity to my future wife. You know this." He faced me. His eyes reflected agony. "What do you hope to achieve by this talk?"
He turned and faced the entrance of the cave. I had often envied elder protégés. They got the best training in martial arts. But looking at Ayamba's pained expression. I realised it came with shackles. Him and Khuze had made a connection. Just like me and Siopi did. But unlike me, he could not pursue her. His wife would be a woman chosen by his Elder. Not himself. His feelings and preferences mattered not. I closed my eyes to sleep. An image of my wife played in my mind. Often this filled with me with bliss. Tonight it pained me.
Ayamba insisted on Mazaza taking the cart. Mazaza refused, but Ayamba pointed out that body would be too heavy to carry.
"We will manage," Ayamba said with finality.
Mazaza wished me a quick recovery and bid all of us farewell. Seeing my abode during the day I realised it was a cave and not hut as I had assumed. This poor woman. Nyauzembe gave Khuze another necklace, which had a stronger charm than the previous one. This one was made from cut up pieces of a porcupine's spikes. It looked just like the other one except the difference in colour of the spikes and the horns. Ayamba instructed me to return to Mchengautuwa when I healed.
"I am so glad to have met you Nyasha. Take care." Khuze said with a smile. I watched as her and Ayamba exited the cave.
What did you think of this POV?
What do you think of Nyasha as a character?
What do you think Ayamba should do about his feelings?
what are your views on arranged marriages?