Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Chapter 3: Her Protector (Men of Valor 3.5)


Hello, readers! Welcome back. This a short chapter. I hope you enjoy it. Share your thoughts as always.
***
African Mud Huts
Heartless. Brutal. Unforgiving.
They’d called him worse.

Jide was accustomed to the fear in people’s eyes when they looked at him. Yet they venerated him in battle. They trusted their lives with him, knowing he would give his life to protect their people. Their land. Their kingdom.

Watching Oma tremble with trepidation when she’d assumed he’d flay her skin with the whip or force her to his bed had only churned his stomach with disgust. The sensation left him with no joy or satisfaction.
Whatever his sins, he was not that evil. He would take the life of an enemy without hesitation in combat. But he was no defiler of innocents!


He walked toward the garrison, a square-shaped courtyard surrounded by mud cabins that housed the palace guards and soldiers. The prisoner holding pen stood behind the longest building. It was similar to a cattle pen with no roof and high fences to hold the prisoners.

The heavy drops of cold rain pelted his bare shoulders and back as he walked to the sleeping quarters. He shrugged it off.

The irony of the situation did not evade him.

His prisoner was currently enjoying the comfort and warmth of his bed chamber. While he stood out in the storm prepared to share lodgings with other guards.

Then again, he’d never had a prisoner such as Oma. Gorgeous, she was brimming with audacity and passion. She pushed his self-control to its limit.

Petite, her head barely reaching his shoulders, she was a maiden of no consequence in the palace. Still, the tilt of her chin and the sweep of her spine defied his commands. Something the palace guards would never dare to do.

“Nnadi, go stand guard in front of my quarters,” he said to a guard who ran toward the barracks for shelter.
The man halted in front of Jide and looked at him curiously.

“Do you not understand my instruction?” Jide asked, the hardness in his voice unmistakable. His command might appear strange but he wouldn’t allow a subordinate to question his motives.

“No, sir,” the guard replied, snapping to attention before hurrying in the direction of Jide’s accommodation.
Jide continued his leisurely walk to the barracks.

Normally, any sense of pity eluded him. Oma was a spy. He’d caught her in the act and she’d shown no remorse.

He should have delivered summary justice and used her to set an example to deter would-be spies.

Tension was high. Conflict was on the horizon. Two of the Kingdoms bordering Umunri were on the verge of war with each other. Umunri was caught in the middle trying to broker a diplomatic solution instead of a military one. And the peace deal arranged between Umulari and Umunri when Prince Emeka married Princess Nonye was now in tatters. Nonye had returned to Umulari and the prince was now wedded to Ezinne, her sister.

So this wasn’t the time for leniency to spies.

Yet something about Oma had stopped him. In his arms she’d been a bundle of soft tempting curves. In her eyes he’d glimpsed the soul of a brave lioness. A fighter.
The smoldering fire in the depths of her cocoa-colored eyes told him there was more to her—more to her story.

Once, another maiden had looked upon him with the same intense passion. Her touch had soothed his soul.
That was long time ago. Another life time.

Now, against his better judgment, he wanted to find out more about Oma.

Since the first time she arrived to work at the palace, he’d been fighting to resist her allure. Chosen to ignore the almost debilitating attraction. Whenever she was close, he could sense her presence. Scent her essence even when he couldn’t see her.

The spiking of the hairs on his back. The tightening in his gut. The gnawing need to be buried in her warm flesh. To claim her and end his lifelong torment. His punishment for not protecting another.

A heavy forlorn sigh lifted his shoulders. He lifted his face and closed his eyes. The cold rain stung him, 
cleansing his body and mind. Making the path clear for him to see the truth.

Awareness and need for Oma would keep plaguing him. He could no longer deny it.

It was how he’d sensed her presence in the shadows by the barracks earlier and known she was up to some mischief to be skulking in the dark. He’d been aware of no immediate danger from her. But as the head guard he’d needed to determine her purpose.

It seemed the gods had delivered her into his path. One didn’t reject a gift from the deities.

In the barracks, the air smelled of damp earth and men.
Strangely he remembered Oma’s scent—a mix of black soap and oranges. A smile lifted his lip as the corner. He muted it as he walked past the other guards who looked at him as if wondering why he was in there.

The longing that had flared when he’d kissed her was like none he’d ever experienced. It was more than a desire to slake his physical ache in her warm slick suppleness. The hunger she stirred in his soul craved much more.

He should know better than to go there again. His foray into an amorous liaison had ended disastrously. He couldn’t put himself through that torture again.
No. He would focus his attention on finding out what Oma was hiding.
Perhaps this was his chance to redeem his soul and save a life. Instead of taking it.

When he found a space in the barracks, he sat on the sleeping mat, legs crossed beneath him as he started chanting for the souls of those who had joined their ancestors.

Copyright Kiru Taye 2012