Stirring the waters where she was worshipped or which was named after her always tickled her. Sometimes, when she was happy or overjoyed, she splashed the water playfully.
She particularly enjoyed when little children followed their mothers to the stream and dipped their tiny feet in the water, splashing and playing around while they let out giggles and laughter.
She loved children. She loved love. She was the mother of children and she gave children.
Even though Olookun liked to claim that title for herself as well. That was on days she referred to herself as She.
A frown unconsciously crept up on her beautiful, ethereal face. Olookun was the only god who oscillated between sexes. Some worshipped her as a god, others as a goddess.
Yet, Olodumare had no qualms with it. Sometimes, she wondered if he favored Olookun above the other gods and goddesses.
Because even he didn’t claim sacrifices as a god one day and a goddess on the other.
Olookun; goddess of the bottom of the sea. She bit back laughter. She was the goddess of Rivers that ran into the sea and kept the sea alive. If there was no small water, they could never be massive water. So Olookun really had nothing on her.
She hated to think of him/her like that though, it sometimes meant the other gods were right – she was jealous of Olookun.
Her eye caught a swift movement. Tapping her fingers gently, a sudden wind blew Esu into her throne room immediately.
He laughed mirthlessly as his ass hit the water bed that served as the floor in her throne room hard. Every god had their own signature floor; for Sango, his was fire, blazing every time of day because he was still always angry, a situation which still confused Osun seeing as he became a god because of his uncontrolled anger. Ogun’s own floor was mainly iron, on days he felt creative, he got dogs; mainly bitches because he was a god whore while he was on earth and on days he was in a foul mood, he simply went for blood. Osun had teased him many times in the past, that he was the only god who brought out blood while cranky; might as well be a goddess.
Esu on the other hand, because he was a trickster and he still had the nerve to pull his tricks on the gods, goddesses and even Olodumare, sometimes used land and water or all the signature floors of the other gods and goddesses such that if you waltzed into his room on a day you were groggy, you’d think you were actually in someone else’s throne room.
And, he was the only one who didn’t really stay in his throne room.
Most times, he gallivanted across the Heavens, sometimes murmuring, sometimes as quiet as silence itself. Osun had caught him a few times, trying to relocate to Earth.
But she knew Humans couldn’t cope with Esu being around. He had to be held on a leash.
She eyed him with a corner of her eyes. Magnificent, beautiful and picturesque were the words that flowed from the Heavens and the Earth through the waters sometimes when she was worshipped.
She was gorgeous; the goddess of beauty she was.
Except that Olookun still thought he or she had a say in matters of beauty. She had once started an argument in the Heavens while the gods had a meeting with Olodumare, insisting she was the one all the beautiful women on earth looked like.
Osun still couldn’t forgive the audacity with which she spoke. Useless god or goddess, depending on which she was that beautiful morning.
“You wield your power just to show off sometimes, Osun” Esu was laughing mirthlessly again. She hated his laughter particularly. It unsettled her, mainly because she knew he couldn’t be trusted.
“What are you doing creeping around my throne room?” she asked him? Her gaze was fully on him now. As usual, he was wearing different colors facing different corners of the room.
god of confusion that he was.
“I wanted to come and keep you company, lovely one” his fingers brushed her smooth skin, lingering on her cheekbones before it slowly went for her chin.
But Osun knew better. Esu might have been stroking her face but he was already at the door.
He was also the god of illusion not just confusion.
He planted ideas in the heads of humans and sometimes had the nerve to try it with his fellow god.
Tapping her fingers again, the wind blew him back into her throne room, this time, she threw him around a bit, creating a whirlwind that unsettled him and held him in the air while she watched, amused.
“You like me, Osun. I can tell. Your love for Sango seems to be waning these days” he chuckled, bit his lower lip. “How about we have dinner together later? I can assure you, I am better company than your hot headed husband”
“I like my men with fiery temper”
“It is the reason you share him with Oya and Oba”
Osun eyed her current play thing. She hated to admit the existence of those two. Esu was making her mad now. Swiftly withdrawing the whirlwind, she fell the god of illusion without warning, his ass hitting the floor hard the second time in a few moments.
“You seem to have a thing for the buttocks of the god of fate” he said drily.
“What are you doing sneaking around my throne room?”
“I was bored” he admitted. Taking long and quick strides to her window, he looked out of the beautiful throne room into the sea below. Osun’s window overlooked a massive body of water because she was a sea goddess. During festivals where she was worshipped, she stepped into the sea and basked in the worship of her people.
Then, the fishes rose up in the water, swirling around her while the tiny ones adorned her ears and her endlessly long hair that cascaded her shoulders when woven.
She loved her hair in Suku because it suited her most that way. But she sometimes loved when it cascaded her shoulders too because it was the way Sango loved it.
“I am bored too” Osun said. She had been bored for thousands of moons. These days, nothing interesting happened in the Heavens anymore.
She and Sango were currently fighting because he had fallen for Oya once more and she was tired of staring out of her window, playing with fishes and mermaids.
Esu faced her sharply, a bright look on his face.
“Don’t” she warned him with a finger and joined him where he stood, looking into the deep blue waters outside her throne room. She longed for a bath. The water had tempted her to dip her body into it and savor the cool freshness against her skin.
Throwing her glass doors open, she stepped into the sea and sashayed into the water fall before her.
The fishes began to sing a beautiful song when they saw her, harmonized by the mermaids and the empty seashells.
Esu was right on her heels.
“We can take a quick trip. Olodumare wouldn’t know” he grabbed her hand, placed it in his. But as usual, what she was seeing wasn’t what he was doing. He was in front of her now, lavishing her with a wide grin and a wink, his hands deftly explaining the words his mouth spoke. “It is your festival in a couple of moons, we can say you want to go and make an appearance. You know how much you love your people. And you know they haven’t seen you in thousands of years. So just go and surprise them, make them happy the way they make you happy and take me with you”
She chuckled, “You are the last god I want as company”
“You won’t get another”
She eyed him, with her fingers she lifted the body of water beside her and it pushed him high up, almost to the sky.
But Esu was not the one who became unfazed. Struggling with the current while he giggled, he matched her steps as she neared the source of the water fall.
“Ogun is convinced the world would change one day and there would be less need for him and Sango is keeping your rival’s bed warm at night… and during the day… and every time, you know”
“Keep your mouth out of my business”
“Take me to earth with you”
“I am not going to the earth, I belong here”
In what seemed like the fastest vision Osun had ever had, she saw her grove in Saki littered with different pregnant women who moaned in labour.
They were in pains, the Priestesses chanting and singing while they efforts came to naught. They also seemed to have been at it for a while. After a few seconds, they looked up, as if in her face and cried for help, asking her to come to their defense.
The vision fizzled as fast as it had come.
“You’re not the only one who can use your fingers”
Esu, with a mocking bow, fizzled out of sight.
Aderopo mounted his throne. Assuming his seat, he waved his hand and asked for the Chiefs to sit.
He could not wait for his coronation so he could wield his horsetail and wear the crown of his fathers. There were some certain parts of tradition he particularly loathed and the days leading to coronation ranked high on that list.
After the stupid tradition of visiting the forest of the untold, where things untold literally happened to a man, yet he was expected to return with the head of a Lion, he also hated having to wait three moons to wear a crown after the death of a previous king.
His mother had explained to him earlier that day that it was taking that long because his father died suddenly. Some certain rituals which had to involve his father had not been performed and now, he had to wait longer than any prince to wear the crown.
His father was dead and gone, burial rites already in process, why then did he need to wait for so long before he wore the crown?
His mother had then mentioned the seriousness of the rituals.
“They have to invoke the spirit of the fathers of Oyo. They have to invoke Sango” placing his hands in his, she’d added, “Oko mi, be patient, the crown is yours to wear. Not anyone else’s”
Except that Oyekunle who thought for some reason that he had a claim to the throne.
“I am pleased to inform us all that the Traitors have lost the battle” Aderopo began. His chiefs beamed in gratitude. Some of them thanking Sango and Ogun the god of war. “I will like to ask, is there a reason we cannot hasten the process of coronation soon after my father is buried?”
Ajagun burst into the Palace then, startling them. He looked wounded; blood dripping from his shoulder and his face. He also looked terribly battered; the night had been very long and unkind to him.
“Your highness” his head hit the floor gently as he paid obeisance to Aderopo. “Your highness, we were unable to get the Princess back”
Aderopo’s brows furrowed, “What do you mean you were unable to get her back? Was she taken before?” his eyes narrowed as Ajagun nodded, his head lowered. “What?! How? How did you let them take your Princess, Ajagun?”
The chiefs gazed at Ajagun in utter disbelief, their faces echoing the words of their Prince and soon to be King.
“How did she even get kidnapped. Did they go to her inner chamber to drag her out?” Iyalode, one of the female chiefs who catered to the social needs of the people asked.
“She came to the battle field”
The gasps from the Chiefs was followed by Aderopo’s thundering voice, “How?” he was standing now, his face a stony glare.
“She wanted to fight…”
“Enough!” Aderopo ordered, “What manner of rubbish is this that I hear with my ears? You, a whole Akangun Ajagun let my sister on the battle field because ‘she wanted to fight?’ have the gods visited you with madness?”
Sober, Ajagun avoided the eyes of the Prince.
Adeola had totally blindsided him. And before he saw her, the enemy had. It had all happened in the twinkle of an eye; grabbing her, mounting the Horse and riding off with her.
He had chased but they had missed them somehow.
“You will bring my Sister here in two days or risk losing your head!”
“Yes your highness”
Ajagun, fueled with anger against their enemy, strode out of the Palace prepared to ride to Tede.
They camped close to the Osunbo River because Saki was a longer distance to travel from Oyo than Tede.
Spreading out dried animal skin one of the men had purchased while they rode from Oyo, they all took little spaces and sat on it.
An Antelope roasted on the fire in the middle of the men, each of them trying to tend to their wounds.
Oyekunle, still disappointed about the battle he had just lost, took a stroll to the bank of the River which spread widely before him.
Maybe their tactic had been faulty from the beginning, maybe he should have killed the King, his Prince and taken over the Kingdom on the same night.
It was what his mother and Adio had suggested anyway.
But he was not a man who took lives meaninglessly. Adesoji had killed his father in his sleep and only Adesoji had deserved to die. Aderopo was to be asked to step down or face his wrath.
With the element of surprise he had been almost certain Aderopo would give in and there would have been little or no need for war.
But clearly, his fate was not in his hands.
“You’re bleeding” he wondered if the wind carried her soft voice from between the men where she earlier sat before he found her standing next to him.
Her beauty was more evident late at night as the moon shone fully on it.
She was breathtaking. If things were different, he would have wifed her and put his children in her.
But things were different and thinking about her like that was a crime on its own.
There was no way he was going to lie with the enemy; the daughter of the man who killed his father.
Her soft fingers gently caressed the top of his arm, pulling off a leaf from the little tree beside them, she rubbed it hard against her palm.
He wondered if those hands had tended to other men back in her father’s Kingdom.
She was beautiful and she was royalty, surely she was betrothed to some man by now.
Vaguely, he wondered if the man would ride for her and save her from the grip of her enemies.
His eyes threatened to betray him by roaming her barely-clad body but again, he reminded himself the folly of touching a woman like this one.
Squeezing the now mashed leaf, she produced a greenish juice which she gently applied to the cut on his arm.
A quick movement had her caught unaware; one of his men had gripped her strongly, in a bid to drag her back to the fire.
“Leave the woman be” Oyekunle said gently. His man nodded and threw her to the ground. Helping her find her balance, Oyekunle steadied her as she found her feet.
“Thank you” she muttered as she slowly returned to tending to his wound.
His man was gone now.
“Or maybe I shouldn’t. I am your Prisoner after all” they held each other’s gazes after she spoke the words. He looked away first, his attention held by the cut she now gently placed what was left of the leaves on.
“I don’t want you wounded. I don’t want you dead” he said to her when she was done.
“So what do you want?”
He shrugged, “I do not know yet. But I am keeping you close until I figure out how best to use you”
“How best to use me” she repeated, incredulous.
“Yes. And until then, I will not let you out of my eyes. You will not escape like you did the first time. Never” grabbing her hand, he pulled her back to where the others sat. “You will lay with me”
He realized how wrong it sounded when she bore her eyes into him, unimpressed.
“I mean… I don’t mean… you will sleep with me…” Okay, why did it seem so hard to say the right words all of a sudden?
Clearing out a small space in a less grassy area, he said, “Lie. We are sleeping together”
Okay, he needed to keep quiet.
He pointed to the small space that was going to be their bed that night and gestured for her to sleep. Taking his space behind her, he held tightly on to her; his hand pulling her so close, he hoped she’d be able to breathe before morning came.