Tamed by the Gods || 𝑏𝑦 πΆβ„Žπ‘’π‘˜π‘€π‘’π‘’π‘π‘’π‘˜π‘Ž 𝐴𝑛𝑖𝑛𝑧𝑒

FS Review

IN THE AFA KINGDOM, there were two kinds of nights: regular nights and Eke-market nights. Because it was believed that the success of the land was largely dependent on the hands of the gods, the King and the new Chief priest had dedicated every night that fell on Eke-market days to the gods. It was considered a sacrilege for the people to be outside their homes on these sacred nights, the nights that were meant for the gods. 

But some had defied the king’s mandate. When caught, excuses deemed unacceptable were put to the test. The King and Chief Priest devised the test but the judgement, they claimed,  was in the hands of the gods.

Mazi Okonkwo, one of the accused, had claimed he went out that night because he had heard a whine in the nearby forest and thought his trap had caught a grasscutter or larger animal. 

As was the norm, they brought a makeshift lamp of calabash before him and told him to beg for mercy. After this plea, if the candle kept burning, then that would mean the gods had pardoned him. But if the lamp went out, his guilt would be apparent to all. So far none of the accused had been spared, for the candle would always extinguish itself at the precise moment. Hence, the lamp was seen as the eye of the gods. 

Those found guilty faced a miserable death: eyes gouged out, limbs amputated, stomachs cut open to spill their entrails. The mutilated bodies would be found outside their huts the next morning as a warning to others. 

Were the gods unjust? Wicked? Indifferent? 

After his uncle, Okonkwo’s death, Emerie hungered to find the answer. These were not the gods he had grown up to know—not the gods his dead parents had shown him, not the ones whom he had served in all sincerity. 

The next Eke-market day, he defied the law, leaving his hut after sundown and making his way into the brush. When the mangled bodies of the king’s victims flashed in his mind, he gasped, goosebumps flooding his skin. He circled his hand over his head three times and snapped his finger in the manner of one who rejects bad things and said, "It's not my portion."

As though from the wind, a soft voice called his name. At first he thought he had imagined it, but then it called him again, soft and steady. He looked towards the shrine. That voice was coming from that place. The leaves crunched under his feet as he prowled behind the tall trees at the back of the shrine. 

Having escaped the watchful eyes of the guards, he slipped inside. 

A warm feeling washed over him as he got close to an effigy of a man upon the muddy wall, carved out of wood and standing in front of a lion's head. The effigy had the features of his father, who had once been the Chief Priest. He had died when Emerie was a small child, barely old enough to know him. Fixing a steady gaze on the effigy, he wanted to smooth away the frown lines on its face, but as he raised his hand to touch it the voice stopped him. 

"It's time, my son. Your time.” The voice echoed in the shrine. It sounded like a rumble in the sky, and it startled Emerie. 

He swivelled towards the entrance, hoping to not find the guards trooping in. "You may want to bring your voice down, please," he said in a whisper. "Or do you want me dead?" 

"Ever since the new Chief priest, the one after your father, and the king connived to silence me, no one but you, has ever heard my voice." 

"So, what do you want from me?" Emerie asked, his voice calm, like he wasn't angry at the gods anymore. Though they had done nothing when his parents were murdered in cold blood by the evil Priest

"I can feel your pain, my son. Look behind you. Break the calabash you see in the mortar. Also, kill the white fowl beside the mortar and sprinkle the blood on my altar. It is only then that my full powers will be renewed and you will become the one chosen by the gods." 

He felt warmth wash over him after he had sprinkled the blood but a chill followed it moments later. Unasked questions glimmered in Emerie's countenance, but he feared he might cross a line by voicing them. 

"Go my son, I will be with you. You will save our people from their evil manipulations." 


The market square bustled with people: men and women, old and young. Another man had been caught roaming about in the night on Eke-market day. 

Emerie stood behind the crowd that had gathered, ready for what was to come.

The people in the crowd were clad in clothes that were too large for their skinny bodies. The ribs of a child clasping hands with its mother got Emerie to snort. The boy wasn't sick, but like the mother and everyone else in the crowd, he was just malnourished. 

Just like a plague, hunger had suddenly visited the people of Afa Kingdom again. The recent overnight attacks on their crops had added hunger and hardship to their fear.

But the land seemed cursed by the wickedness of those who defied the King.

"The gods are angry because of people like this one," the Chief Priest said, pointing at the man who knelt at the centre of the crowd. "They are like weeds that must be ripped out at the root lest their blight spread."

Beads of sweat adorned the man's face, his teeth chattering from fear and tears running down his cheeks. And all the while, the king kept a smirk on his face. 

After the man had pleaded for mercy the candle in the calabash was brought forth. The people held their breath, expecting the candle to go out as the man’s sobbing pleas for mercy trailed off. But it didn’t. Rather, the flame was brighter than ever, sending a murmur of a surprise rippling through the crowd.

Emerie smiled at the look of surprise on the King's face as well as that of the Chief Priest. He had woven a counter charm that stifled the draft the chief priest had conjured to extinguish the light. 

"Today, Salvation has come to us!" Emerie's voice echoed as he jostled his way up to the centre of the crowd next to the accused man."

These two men are evil." He pointed with assured authority at the Chief Priest first and then at the King,  who rose to his feet, with a stony look and a clenched fist. The Chief priest ordered four large men with rippling muscles, his cohorts, to seize Emerie. They were only a few inches away from him when something plucked at their eyes, blinding them. The Chief Priest and the King pressed at their eyes, too but instead of blindness, they crashed to their feet, confessing their evils before the crowded market.

Now, the people knew that the calabash of fire was fake all along, that those nights, the ones they were told were for the gods, was an opportunity for the King and the Priest to send their minions to attack the food crops of the people, harvesting them with reckless abandon. They knew that those people they regarded as defilers of the gods were actually innocent and that the King and the Chief Priest were killing them on the pretence that the gods had done so. 

Hearing this confession, the people collided in an uproar, hands sweeping across the ground for pebbles and dirts, curses and stones plummeting the leaders on all sides.


CHUKWUEBUKA HARRISON ANINZE is a Medical Laboratory Scientist who likes to think himself a writing freak. He writes from Enugu, Nigeria. He has written a whole lot of well meaning short stories and flash fictions. He is the first winner of the Writer's Academy fiction contest. Romance and Thriller are the two genres he readily finds home with. He counts it an honor helping young writers carve a niche for themselves.

Post a Comment

Post a Comment (0)
Fiery Scribe Review