THE chief priest jolted up from his sleep. At the mysterious sound of a gong only him could hear.
He came awake shuddering under the power of a spiritual experience. For the old man had just seen a mysterious revelation in his dreams.
And Jakan could only mutter in a trembling voice. ‘As you will, O great Heavens! As you will it!’
It was still a long while before daybreak. And it seemed the chief priest of Jaiye had just been made to peer into some transcendental mystery.
A mystery which only the elect could know. And Jakan was the one the Heavens chose.
The elderly priest sprang up from his bed. He rushed out of his chamber, washed his face with a small bowl of water and called a few servants.
When his servants hurried to him that early dawn, the old man sent them with an urgent message to his company of other priests from the priestly clan of Gu’ola.
Jakan the chief priest called the several auxiliary priests to gather at dawn at the priestly courts of the temple hall. And to come fasting and piously prepared for the sacred expedition.
The entire priesthood of Jaiye kingdom had been on a continuous fast for three days already, as the devout men sought the will and direction of the Heavens in the sacred expedition.
Led by Jakan, the priest community in the kingdom was bound under a vow to not take in a morsel of food. Not until the High Heavens gave the needed direction for the all-important mission.
The men’s answer did come eventually… on the third day of the fasting. And the answer came with even more details of the grand design than the priests had even sought for.
Yet it pleased the Heavens to make Jakan both the seer and the mouthpiece. It pleased the High Heavens not to abandon the old priest eventually.
Now, Jakan freshened up for the all-important trip he’d have to embark on. He put on his white priestly robe, wore a heavy string of beads around his two wrists and put a longer one around his neck.
The old priest sat on a wooden stool, bowed forwards to fasten the straps of his sandals, as he pondered on the mission.
He thought. It was like yesterday, when everything was merely an unthinkable message of a herald. But now, the unthinkable is both here and real. Like an unfolding grand mystery!
Jakan raised himself. He yanked his hat off a row of apparels on a wooden hanger.
He donned the priestly cap and matched out to his waiting cart.
Iyun sprang up from beside a sleeping Shao. She was sweating much.
The wandering two had journeyed as far as into the outskirt lands of Jaiye city, before they were tired out the night before. And they slept in the open square by the olden highway, to continue the journey on foot when they’d wake.
The walk had been more fun than it was stress for the young, agile two.
Meanwhile, Shao hadn’t brought neither food nor change of clothes with him, on his solitary journey on foot to Koje. The young man had impulsively dashed onto the highways that led to his fondest kindred Iyun. And with no sack of supplies nor skins filled with water for travel.
And so, Shao had simply fed on fruits from flourishing trees on his way to Koje. And he’d quenched his thirst from the little brooks on the way.
However, Iyun took some supplies before she joined Shao on his return journey to Jaiye city. Back in Koje, she’d secretly crept into her home and stuffed edibles in a bag of sack, and also filled an old skin with water. Right before the two cousins escaped onto the roads.
And now the two cousins were within the outskirts of Jaiye city already. And it was still long before the sun would rise and their journey would continue.
Yet now, Iyun’s sleep was suddenly interrupted where she slept beside her cousin. The young woman heard a loud, piercing shriek of an owl. And she sprang up with a sudden start; her heart pulsating heavily.
Iyun looked around and saw nothing. She looked at her cousin and Shao was still sleeping so sound. And Iyun wondered if the weird sound was her imagination.
As the young woman turned around to lay down again, her gaze fell on the strangely looking bird. And it was a huge owl… with big eyeballs staring down at her.
Iyun screamed out. And Shao jumped up with a start and held her to him, a spark of concern in the young man’s eyes.
‘What Iyun? What? What happened?’ The questions rolled out in an uncontrollable flow.
Iyun only buried her face in Shao’s chest and aimed a finger at the foliage of a young tree close by. For the owl still stayed. And with everything Shao did to frighten it away, it only gawked at the young damsel with its large eyeballs.
Suddenly, and out of nowhere, a large falcon flapped close in a swift flight. And with a deft, fast sweep, it caught off the owl on its powerful talons… and flew off into the darkness beyond.
Shao gasped speechlessly at the inexplicable wonder. He tapped his cousin and only aimed a finger at the large falcon flying away with its prey.
And he parted his lips with a quivery, quiet whisper. ‘Good Heavens!’ he breathed.
Shao was shocked beyond words. He was shocked to his bones.
But not as much as Iyun would be. By the story he would tell her afterwards.
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© 2020 by Kayode & Tola Olla