Nneoma and her children had Isiafor in their sight and their joy knew no bounds; then they heard feet pound the earth and galloping toward them. The warriors were on their heels, their machetes, bows and arrows in their hands.
Nneoma and her children let out cries for help, but sadly, there was no one to help them, between her, her children and Isiafor was a long stretch of cassava farm. “Run! Children run!” Nneoma yelled. Grabbing Arinze, Nneoma bolted into the cassava farm. Her children followed behind her and within seconds, the forest of cassava plant swallowed them. The warriors were undaunted, they followed suit, spreading out as they ran into the cassava farm. To their shock, there was no sign of Nneoma or her children in the cassava farm. The warriors had expected to see or at least here their feet pounding the ground as they ran. It was all calm and quiet in the cassava farm. “Where is the witch?!” shouted the leader of the warriors. In a hole covered with dry cassava leaves, Nneoma and her children lay, their hearts beating rapidly.
Nneoma and her children were shocked by the words of the warrior who called her a witch. She pointed to herself and mimed to her children, “They are calling me a witch! Me, a witch?!” “Fan out! Look for their footprints! They could not have disappeared! So all this while we have a powerful witch leaving amongst us and we knew it not? We must find her so that she can face judgment for her wickedness!” the leader of the warriors continued to shout orders to his fellow warriors. Each word he spoke fell into the ears of Nneoma and her children like horror tales. “Since when did I become a witch?”Nneoma mimed to her children, as tears ran down her face. “If only Olekanma was alive, this would not be happening. It would never have happened! No way! Let none of you fear, we will get through this together okay?” her children nodded in unison. For about twenty minutes the warriors continued to search the cassava farm. Sometimes they would drift away and return toward them. When they had decided that Nneoma and her children must have disappeared and began to leave the cassava farm, one of the warriors stumbled on the hole where Nneoma and her children were hiding.
Through the crevices between the leaves, Nneoma and her children peered at the warrior. On his part, the warrior peered down into the hole, carefully looking to see if anything was down there. Using his machete, he began to brush the leaves aside, what he saw in the hole was Nneoma coiled around in a heap with all her children. Staring at the warrior pleadingly, Nneoma begged for him to show them mercy with her eyes. For a second, the warrior stood speechless. He was clearly undecided about what to do. The sight of a helpless, young, widow begging for her life and those of her children to be spared rattled him. “Uchenna, are you not going to leave the farm with us?! Has the witched cast her spell on you?!” one of the warriors asked the warrior standing over the hole where Nneoma and her children hid. Without saying a word, the warrior, Uchenna by name, turned to walk away, then he heard footsteps, another colleague of his stumbled on the scene. “Uche, you have found the witch and her children! The witch! The witch is here!! Uchenna has found the witch!!!” the warrior shouted.
At the sound of his voice, the others came running toward them. Uchenna bent his head in pain as tears rolled down the faces of Nneoma and her children. Willing not to be treated like a common thief, Nneoma stretched her hand toward Uchenna to help her out of the hole. Willingly Uchenna did and even jumped into the hole to bring out all her children. “So you are not even a powerful witch? I had concluded you disappeared into the thin air with your children; in fact, I was going to tell the elders and Nwaraka so; the leader of the warriors said derisively. “Stop that Edeh! She has not been found guilty as a witch yet! Whoever calls her a witch again will have me unleash my venom on him!” Uchenna barked as he sprang out of the hole like a cat. Uchenna was not just a good warrior, he was also a good wrestler and a seasoned hunter, though Edeh was his senior in the army, he was no match for his fighting skills. Edeh backed off immediately, he knew Uchenna had a bad temper and whenever it was loose, something bad usually happened. “I found her and her children in good condition, and I want them to arrive at the village square in the same condition! Nneoma! Lead your children back to our village! I and these warriors will make sure you get to the village square safely!” His word was final.
No one would dare challenge Uchenna’s words especially when he was angry he was angry. Back at the village Nwaraka and the elders were already visited and had been deliberating what Nwaraka revealed to them. The assembly was divided in two. Some believed Nwaraka, while some angrily challenged his claims. Amongs them was papa Ebuka, known as mazi Njoku, a brother to Nneoma’s husband, Olekanma. “I urge you elders to send back this mad native doctor back to his shrine where he belongs! Nneoma is no witch and neither are her children witches or wizards. Nwaraka, if you want Nneoma for her voluptuous b—–s and inviting waist, all you have to do is meet me in privacy and ask what you might do to have her. It is shameful when a seer like you cannot see what is under your nose and you come out with such baseless accusations against an innocent woman!” mazi Nkoku roared.
“Do not insult me mazi Njoku, or else I will use one of my spells on you right here!” Nwaraka threatened. Some of the elders rushed forward and grabbed Nwaraka as he reached for an object in his raffia bag. “Nwaraka, you are a castrated goat! Elders leave him alone! He will do nothing! Has he forgotten who I am? I am Njoku Uruaku, son of powerful native doctors and hunters who hunted animals by day and spirits by night!” Nkoku boasted. Reaching for the edge of his wrapper, Njoku removed an object covered with chicken feathers, spitting on it several times, he threw it to the ground. While elders watched in disbelief, mazi Njoku ran forward to meet with Nwaraka for a fight.