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The sun filled the entire sky with the deep colour of rubies in Bunza Kingdom.

“Open your palms” said priestess Sangoma the great seer of marital bliss as she swings her body with her creepy elongated locks while popping out her indigo eye balls and gazed into the palms of eight maidens who sat on the mat with their lower limbs stretched out.
“Close your palms” she commanded as the eight maidens flipped into their eyes with their hearts intense with anxiety.
” What do you see wise one?” asked Queen  Lerato who was leaning far end of the hut as she sauntered towards them wearing an intense face of anxiety.
“My Queen, none of these maidens are suitable to be the wife of the prince.” she answered.
Disappointment crawled on the queen.
“Lali! escort the maidens away” Queen Lerato commanded.
“Yes my Queen” replied Lali who briskly escorted the maidens outside with their beads dangling around their waist.
” for how long do we keep searching for a suitable wife for the prince?  Time is running out. His insensitivity towards matters of the heart is quite disheartening.  He should be proclaimed Crown prince by now. I do not wish to be a laughing stock of the neighbouring kingdoms” said the queen in a drooping tone.
” patience my Queen. Issues of the heart shouldn’t be rushed. Time shall prevail. Although, one of them seems to be okay for the prince but… “
“But what? ” the Queen replied with a sling of hope.
“She will meet her demise at an early stage of their marital life which may pose a lot of problems later.” she replied.
“Does it really matter? If she will make a good bride and future queen then let’s welcome her into the royal household immediately  and begin to groom her.” said Queen Lerato as her face began to tear apart from the sharp claws of weary.
“Once again my Queen,  patience is golden. I must take my leave at once” replied Priestess Sangoma as she takes a bow and walks away.
On her way out of the palace,  she is caught into the echoes of Prince Damba and a maiden exchanging fists as their sharp blades clashes in the air.
“we have to stop here. You look exhausted” said Prince Damba.
 ” I’m  not tired my prince. I still have enough energy to take you down, your highness” replied Ayana.
Prince Damba chuckled as he collects the sharp looking weapon from her.
“Let’s go” he commanded.
 “Yes my prince” she replied as she gives a bow.
“Wonderful skills Prince Damba” said priestess Sangoma as she approaches them with a beaming smile.
“Thank you priestess Sangoma.  I never knew you were at the palace” replied Prince Damba.
” I see. I came here for the usual visit. I can see that Bunza Kingdom now allows women to carry weapons” she said.
Prince Damba chuckled ” there is always an exception to the rules.  Meet Ayana, my slave guard”.
Ayana bows to her as a sign of respect and quickly rushed out.
“I see. Anyway, I need to be on my way. ” she said as she takes her leave.
 The sky welcomed the warm embrace of the moon. The squeaking  sounds of insects filtered the air. Prince Damba leaned his muscular firm body on the wall while his mind travelled afar into the realm of thoughts.
“I’m here my prince” said Ayana as her silvery voice captured his thoughts.
” I see. Let’s begin.” he responded.
Her wrist cords began to wash the thick skin of his lower limbs.
“What troubles you my prince? ” asked Ayana.
He sighs and replied “A lot. The sight of priestess Sangoma only reveals that my mother has lost all hope and could only call her to look into the future of maidens.”
 ” I see. I observed her pensive appearance today and your father wasn’t left out too. said Ayana.
” I never wished to cause them so much worry. No woman has been able to move my heart. Above all, the priestess hasn’t found a suitable woman for me.  It seems there is no woman out there for me” he sighs.
 ” Don’t say that my prince. I believe there is a woman out there for you. I will help you find her. You have been so good to me.  My prince,  grant me this request. Let me find that woman who can make you feel like a man that you are. This is all I ask as your slave.” asked Ayana kneeling before him.
“Ayana, I know I saved your life even when my father wanted to kill you along side your parents for the sacrilege they committed. I saw your zeal and will to be a great fighter because of your love for combat. I am glad you have learnt it all but i cannot grant you such request. I am not destined to fall in love. Am dead at heart.”
“But… ” replied Ayana as he shuns her off.
  Ayana got up from the ground carrying the calabash of water as she  walks into the night.
The crow of the cock awoke the habitants  of Bunza Kingdom. The air was brisk in preparation of the forthcoming festival of Oghene,  Rundi and Bunza Kingdom. These three kingdoms always came together to celebrate their achievements and customs.
“How is the preparation going?  Hope our women are ready to display their most beautiful dance steps for the festival and our men are ready to show case their vigour? asked King Jojo a chubby, pear-shaped man.
“Yes father. Everything is ready.” answered Prince Damba.
The king nods his head in satisfaction.
“Am glad to hear that. I am told that prince Baako of Rundi Kingdom is now married and he is now the crown prince. It’s unfortunate because you are older in age.” said King Jojo.
Shame crawled on Prince Damba as he said ” well, am happy for him. I need to ensure nothing is left untouched “.
 He walks away while the king ascends to his majestic throne.
The long awaited festival was here. The clouds were graceful in dark colours. The breeze greeted the atmosphere with the warm whispers of its wings. The ground rumbled to the beat of the drums as women dangled their waist while their feet caressed the ground.
The palace was graced with the royal entourage of the neighbouring kingdoms. King Jojo declared the festival opened for  peace and blessings  between the kingdoms and the royal combat between Prince Damba,  Crown Prince Baako of Rundi Kingdom and Crown Prince Akachi of Oghene Kingdom began.
Crown Prince Baako moved towards the bow and arrow and stretched them to hit his target as his tattoo skinned body fascinated some of the maidens who didn’t take a glare of him. Known for his archery skills,  he didn’t miss any of his target until the last one due to his egocentric charisma. Embarrassment crawled on him as he returned to his seat.
Crown Prince Akachi a tall spike straight man with a pinched face took his turn and missed several of his targets. The crowd murmured for a while until they were marvelled at Prince Damba’s archery skills.  Crown Prince Baako clenched his fist in fury while Crown Prince Akachi accorded him a greeting of respect.
King Jojo once again appreciated the people and announced the next festive game to test the strongest kingdom. The two Crown Princes brought in their strongest warriors. The crowd murmured when they saw Ayana prepared for the combat.
” Are you out of your mind? “King Jojo whispered to Prince Damba.
“No father. she is the perfect warrior to make us proud” he answered.
 “She is a woman. Your slave. Why do you wish to make mockery of us? ” asked the king.
 “Father let’s enjoy. It’s just a game after all” he answered.
“Forgive me, Your majesty. Although,  it is not in my place but am beginning to wonder  why a woman should be part of this combat” said Crown Prince Akachi.
“I was about saying the same thing.  Women are not meant to carry weapons. At least i know our kingdoms share same ideology. For a woman to be part of this combat is an aberration to the men. Or don’t you think so? “asked Crown Prince Baako as he looks at his people.
“Yes” some of them nodded their head in support.
 “Permit me to say this. It is true but this is just a game.  There is nothing to fear. Let’s enjoy the game.” replied Prince Damba.
“Well,  she is just a woman after all. I believe it will make the game more interesting.” added King Jojo as he gives his son a stern look.
 ” I wonder what she can do. Its obvious the prince wishes to disgrace his kingdom. Crown Prince Baako thought.
Three of them faced themselves waiting for one to strike. Ayana wailed and attacked them at once with her weapon. The ground rumbled. Their weapons clashed with an outburst of thunder as their deep voices echoed in the air.  It was a clash of titans, a combat in which only the strongest, bravest and skillfull will prevail. The warrior of Oghene Kingdom lost his strength.  The two survivors curled their fists against each other as the warrior from  Rundi Kingdom pierced his sword into Ayana’s abdomen. The crowd was engulfed with shock.
Prince Damba curled his fist and yelled” No!  Ayana!’ as he ran towards her only to be covered with her blood. The guards assisted him as they all walked into the night.
Prince Damba meandered outside the hut and stopped when he saw the herbalist.
“How is she? asked Prince Damba as  distress engulfed his face.
“She is safe. It wasn’t quite deep” replied Dubaku an average height, stick-thin man with a  face under a layered mass of long black hair.
 “She needs time to heal completely” he continued.
“Thank you. May I see her now?” asked Prince Damba.
“Yes, you can my prince. I will take my leave now and come back tomorrow.” he answered.
Prince Damba entered the hut and sat close to her lying body. He held her hands softly as his heart melted in pains.
 “I promise to see the end of this” he said as he curled his fist and briskly walked out of the hut.
Approaching the King’s throne, he meets his father and Crown Prince Baako in a discussion.
” I was about sending a guard to call you. Have a seat” said King Jojo.
Prince Damba seats as he tries to calm his heat of anger.
“Crown Prince Baako over here has apologised for what happened. His warrior over reacted during the combat. So there is no need for us to take the matter too far.” he continued.
” With all due respect my king and father, I cannot take such apology. We all know the rules very well. That was an attempt to disrupt our festival and above all the victim is still in coma. I hope nothing happens to her otherwise I am ready to wage a war against Rundi kingdom” said Prince Damba.
“Calm down Damba. Stop over reacting. This festival isn’t one to cause chaos. We all know mistakes can be made. I don’t wish to talk about this anymore. Its settled. I will leave the both of you to talk.” replied King Jojo as he walks away.
For a moment the atmosphere was silent.
 “I never knew it would come to this. I am sorry for what has happened. I must say that she is a skilled fighter. My warrior was amazed at her strength. I have learnt not to be little anyone talk more of a woman. I guess women have a great role to play in every part of our lives.  However, i must commend your great concern towards her. I was just told she is a slave. You treat her with so much affection.” said Crown Prince Baako as he breaks the silence.
 “She is human too. Even if it were a man, i would still  show such concern too.” replied Prince Damba.
Crown Prince Baako grined ” Not in a case of waging war. It’s written all over you. You have a soft spot for her. I heard you have been finding difficulty in getting a wife but I see you have one right before you.”
“What’s that suppose to mean? ” he asked with a fierce face.
 “Calm down Damba. Check your heart very well. You alone know the answer. Love isn’t so far from you. I need to rest now. Tomorrow will be a long journey. I’m glad humility has become my watch word.  I wish to come back to this kingdom to witness your coronation as the crown prince.” Crown Prince Baako replied as he walked into the night.
Ayana’s eye lids opened half way reminiscing on where she was.
“what am I doing here?  she asked in a faint voice as she recognized the surface of the hut.
 “The prince brought you here so you could have proper attention and recover fast” answered Lali.
” This is his hut. I need to go to mine. Its wrong” she replied.
“That’s enough. Lali excuse us” Prince Damba interrupted them.
“Yes my prince” replied Lali as she walks away.
“My prince, what am I doing here?  Am sorry i failed you and the kingdom” said Ayana in her pale looking condition.
 “shh! ” said Prince Damba as he placed his second finger across her lips.” I thought I was going to lose you. ” he continued as he gave her a kiss on her forehead.
The waves of days grew past and nothing had changed. King Jojo and his Queen grew more intense over their son’s inability to find a woman. Forced to the claws of weary, a bride is chosen but Prince Damba refuses to succumb to a forceful feeling of affection.
“How on earth can my own mother do this to me?  I cannot marry a woman I don’t love and we aren’t even sure if she has a bright future with me.” exclaimed Prince Damba as he paces around is hut clenching his fist.
“Calm down my prince. I guess its time to face reality. We all know you ought to be crown prince soon. The king needs to secure your position. I told you to allow me look for a suitable woman for you but you refused.” replied Ayana with a down cast look.
Prince Damba moved slowly towards her. His soulful blue eyes looked liked the colour of the ocean as he gazed into her eyes.
 ” How can you find me a suitable woman when you are so suitable for me? “he asked.
“What? ” she exclaimed. ” It may be absurd but my heart yearns for you. I love you” he whispered to her petite ear.
“No my prince. It’s wrong. You and I know we can’t be together” she replied as her heart began to beat so fast.
 “I don’t care whether you are a slave or not. I broke the rules when you were young and I don’t mind breaking the rules again by having you as my bride.” he said.
 Her saliva ran through her throat reminiscing on his words.
 “I have always admired you secretly but who am i to dare profess such love for a prince” she said.
He flipped through her soft face with his muscular veins as he tasted tentatively with his tongue and traced it across the bottom of her lips. At first, the kiss was small but then, it grew bigger, and more intense. It was probably the most intense kiss they have ever experienced. His thick fingers prickled her skin with his touch. They slowly pulled off their clothes and he hardly felt the sharp points of her finger nails digging into his flesh. They moaned in ecstasy as he thrust into her. She felt a lot of pain as it was her first time  but she was patient. The moment was sensational. After their final groan, he wrapped his hands around her.
“From now on you are no longer a slave. You are my bride. I will announce you to my father tomorrow”he said.
“He will kick against it.”she replied.
 “I don’t care”. he answered as he held on to her tightly.
The cloud brighten as Prince Damba felt the warm stroke of the sun across his hut.
“I’m ready” enters Ayana.
 “You look beautiful with the beads” as he reaches for her waist.
“Thank you but am afraid.” she said with a tensed face.
 “you don’t have to be afraid. I will love and protect you till the end. Whatever happens, you shall  come first.” he takes a deep breath and holds her tightly to his muscular chest.
They both amble along the palace and meets the king and queen discussing.
“Greetings my amiable parents” said Prince Damba.
“Oh you are here.” replied king Jojo. “there is something important I wish to tell both of you. I finally found myself a bride and here she is, Ayana.” he said in a croaky voice.
 Ayana came closer to the prince as her fingers trembled.
King Jojo laughed and said” finally you have made us proud”.
The prince and Ayana flipped into their eyes with shock.
“My son,  we already knew you had feelings for Ayana and we were only waiting for you to tell us  that’s why we forced a bride on you recently. I’m  glad you realised it.” said Queen Lerato.
” I feared for the fact that she was my slave guard” he responded.
 “Honestly I didn’t like it but Priestess Sangoma already told us she had a bright future with you. Since its the will of our god’s so shall it be.” said King Jojo.
The king and Queen embraced Ayana and a colourful coronation was held at the kingdom’s square. They lived happily ever after.


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