The Ancient City of Me (Chapter Eleven)

The rays of the morning sun gradually crept into the small room and illuminated it with its golden glow. From outside the open window, one could hear the chirping of birds and the crowing of hens. There were several voices of men and women. Some were laughing, some were saying early morning greetings to each other and the others just whistled happily.

In the small, pink room, Naliria laid peacefully on the bed. Her eyes were closed and she was still asleep. Minutes past and not long after, she stired and turned, from one side to the other. Her eye balls moved underneath her eye lids. The lids fluttered and soon, they flew open. Naliria frowned, as she looked up at the ceiling. Her eyes soon travelled from the ceiling to the walls, the table and the whole room.

"How did I get here?" She thought. "Where is everybody?"

Slowly, she got out of bed and walked to the window. She looked out and somehow, she felt relaxed. She felt good to be home again. Her father's farm and grazing field were spread out, below. They were full of green grasses and vegetables. At one side of the grazing field, the catteles were eating quietly. Naliria sighed, she was finally home, at last.

"But what happened?" She thought. "How did I get here? What about John and Rio? Their parents? Freya? Mr. Agul? What about Harrison and that slut of a friend he called Tana?" She sighed. The last thing she remembered was seeing John running towards her, after Harrison hit her head with his baton. "Oh John." She thought. Her mind then went to her parents and her little sister. How were they doing? How was her mother? Oh mama!"

While she was still in thought, the room door squeaked, as it slowly opened. Within seconds, Freda's head appeared at the door opening, gradually, her body followed too. She came in with a bucket of water in one hand, soap and bath towel in the other.

"Freya! You are alive!" Naliria exclaimed.

Freda was surprised, shocked and happy at the same time to see her best friend out of bed. "Nali? Naliria! You woke up." She put down her bucket and they locked themselves in a tight embrace. "Oh Nali, we were all so scared for you."

"But what happened?" Naliria asked, as she pulled back to look at her friend. "What happened back there? What of Rio and John? And your father?"

"You know what? All of your questions will be answered. But first, I have to tell everyone you are awake."

"Yes! I want to see everybody."

Freda ran out of the room with the bucket of water, she left only the soap and towel. Naliria looked at the items. In her village, when one had slept for too long, they were bathed on their beds and their bodies were massaged so as to avoid stiffness of the joints, in case the person finally woke up. Seeing Freda come in with the water, towel and soap gave her the impression that she had been sleeping for a long time. But how long? She had not the slightest idea.

"What could have happened all this time?" She asked herself, as she fondled the material between her fingers. "I want to see everyone." She said impatiently. I want to see how they are all doing. I'm about to explode with excitement. I can't wait for them to come to me."

Naliria quickly walked to the door and opened it. The first person she saw was Lucas Ladeal. "Papa!" She called with her eyes wide open. Fear crept in and she backed away from the door. She remembered clearly that she left the house without her father's permission. He had to be gross with her, surely he was going to punish her. Her father stepped into the room and frowned. He wondered why his daughter was moving away from him. "Didn't she rememeber him?

"Naliria? Do you not remember me?" He asked.

"Naliria winced "I do papa. But before you scold me for running off to the city without telling you, let me explain."

He didn't wait for her explanation, in fact, he wasn't interested in it. He simply pulled his dear child into his embrace and stayed that way, while planting kisses on her head.

"I thought you were dead. When I saw you lying on that floor, unconcious, I thought I lost you forever."

"Oh papa, you were there?" Naliria asked, as she raised her head up to look into his eyes.

"Yes. After your mother told me you wanted to travel and then my stable man said he saw you riding away, I called John and Rio. We then gathered some men from my farm and his and together, we went to find you."

"But how did you know I would be in trouble?

"You were travelling alone. I know you told lies about the Greyos travelling that day. They didn't go anywhere. Aside from that, news already reached me that Freda was imprisoned by the elders of the city. The elders didn't know you Naliria and I knew that if they suspected any relationship between you and Freda, you would be arrested too. Oh my dear, I'm your father! You should have talked to me first. I was so worried and your mother almost fell ill."

"I'm so sorry papa. I thought I was doing the right thing. I wanted to look out for John, I di...."

"Its okay. Freda explained everything to us. But John didn't go Naliria, he only went after we found you were missing. All the same, your actions led us to discover his parents and a lot of other ....." He was interrupted as the door burst open. Boots, sandals and slippers of different designs, trooped in happily.

"Oh my baby!" Aleta said as she moved forward to embrace her daughter. Some of the house maids and ranch workers were there too. They were all happy to see her awake and in good shape. While they hugged and pecked her, John and Rio stepped into the room.

"John, Rio" Naliria called. "Ermm... look I." That was all she said. Rio moved in and hugged her tight.

"Thank you." He said.

"For what?" Naliria asked with wide eyes.

"For helping us find our parents."

"Well, that was a coincidence." Naliria admitted as she pulled back to look at him.

"All the same, thank you." He hugged her again. "I am glad you are okay. I'm glad you finally woke up."

"Finally?" she asked with shot up brows. "For how long was I on bed?"

John moved forward and slightly tapped Rio on the arm. Rio stepped back, givng John the chance to hug Naliria. "You were asleep for two days." He answered her question.

Naliria's expression moved from being curious to being surprise."Two whole days?"

"Yes my dear." Aleta confirmed. "We were scared that if you remained asleep, your body would die of starvation. Thank the gods you woke up."

"Yes." She agreed. "Harrison was the one who hit me. I wish......"

"Shhhhh...." John placed a finger to her lips to silence her. "Forget about that man, my love. He isn't worth thinking about."

"Your love?" Naliria asked with wide eyes, as her heart began to race. She wondered what John was talking about.

"Yes, my love." He repeated.

"Well, John was scared he would lose you." Her father spoke up. "We were all scared. In order to have the chance of marrying the woman he loves before she left this world, he married you while you were asleep. He performed all the rights yesterday."

"What?" Naliria asked. "You mean I passed out a single woman and woke up married?"

"Yess!!" They all chorused al, happily.

"He has performed all the rights." Freda stressed.

Naliria loved John but she also wanted to experience her marriage. She asked for it to be held again in form of a reception and her parents agreed. They set a date and everyone promised to worked towards it. Rio was happy to finally have Naliria as part of his family. Later that same day, Naliria was taken to meet Mr & Mrs. Gabu, John's parent. However, Mr. Agul, did not survive the battle. He died and a quiet burial was instantly done for him.

After bathing, brushing her mouth and putting herself in complete order, John took Naliria out for a walk on the ranch. It was then he told her, in detail, everything that happened before and after she passed out.

Mr. Agul, got hit by one of Harisson's guard. Being an old man, he couldn't survive the blow. Rio, after he saw Naliria down, got angry and because John was already dealing with Harisson, he threw his anger on Tana. He beat her senseless and then tied her up. The city's security men later came in and arrested Harisson, Tana and the men that worked with them.

Now concerning his parents. They were kidnapped by Harrison and his thugs when they were travelling, some years ago. Since his father did not take security men along, they were out numbered. Mr. Gabu could not fight all the men. After capturing the couple, Harrison sneaked them into Me and then started plotting on how to steal from the treasury. Harrison somehow discovered, that Mr. Gabu was contracted by Me's elders to build the safe where the city's wealth would be kept. Because of that, he knew that only Mr. Gabu would be able to help materialize his plan. At first, Mr. Gabu refused. He didn't want to be part of something to down right degrading. However, he was threatened. It so happened that Mrs. Gabu was pregnant at the time and Harrison promised to kill her along with her unborn child, if Mr. Gabu refused to do the job. Unfortunately, Mr. Gabu dared him, he called his bluff and the result was a kick against Mrs. Gabu's stomach. She lost the baby afterwards. After that, Harrison refused to give them food. They were chained for days like animals and they were starved too. Left alone, Mr. Gabu wouldn't have mind. But his wife had just lost a baby, she wasn't even taken care of by a physician and she had to starve too? He then promised Harrison that the job would be done, only if he got a physician to treat his wife and heal her wounds. Also, he demanded food and a comfortable room for both of them. All of these, Harrison agreed to. So while constructing the city's safe, which took a very long time, Mr. Gabu created loopholes. Loopholes that Harrison forced Mr. Agul to use in stealing from the City's treasury, especially since he was the city's treasurer. Harrison threatened him with the death of Freda, so he had no choice but to agree. After everything was done, Harrison knew that Mr. Agul would tell the elders the truth if he was arrested. To avoid that, he manipulated things and forced Freda to take the fall by going to prison. Even if she denied being her father's accomplice, she was ordered to tell everyone that she didn't know where her father was. Freda obeyed and after she was set free, she waited untill night fall to give reports to Harrison about how things went. After giving the report, she was supposed to find somewhere else to spend the night with Naliria. She didn't want to take Naliria in because she knew Harrison would take advantage and maybe implicate her friend too. However, things changed after Harrison learnt from one of his spy guards that Naliria was outside waiting for Freda. That was when they argued and he hit her with his baton. All the while, Tana had been by his side, walking and working hand in hand with him.

Fortunately, after Lucas, Rio and John arrived with their men, the city guards took them somewhere to pass the night and by the next morning, they met with the elders. Finding out  that his daughter had just been released fro her cell, Lucas wanted to go after her, to get her and take her home. Unfortunately, the elders refused. Instead, they asked the men to spy on Freda and see where she would lead Naliria.

The men quietly followed the girls, through the streets of Me up to the ranch. Rio and one of the farm men, were the ones who first found Harrison's location. After recovering from seeing his parent, Rio and Tana fought, other men came in from both sides and the battle intensified. After Harrison knocked Naliria down, John grabbed him amd gave him a thorough beating. Rio dealth with Tana too. Some of Harriaon"s men fled the scene and after much pressure, the rest were over powered. Unfortunately, Mr. Agul didn't survive the battle. He died of a head wound.  After arresting Harrison, Tana and the other men, Freya and Naliria were taken to a physician. He treated them but only Freda woke up almost immediately. When she learnt of her father's death, she cried uncontrolably.

Lucas brought Naliria home. On seeing her daughter's condition, Aleta broke down in tears. Afraid that he might never have the chance to get married to the woman he loves, John quickly talked to Mr and Mrs. Ladeal. Soon, preparations were made and he married Naliria while she was still unconcious.

Naliria heaved a sigh of relief after hearing all John had told her. She was glad she survived,   she was glad everyone else was safe. But her heart went to Freda. The poor girl deserved better. Now she was going to be alone.

"Is Freda going back to her ranch in the city?" Naliria asked, as she slipped her hands into John's and linked her fingers with his.

"No" he replied. "The city holds too many bad memories for her. She will sell the ranch and moved here with the money. She will buy another ranch then."

"Poor Freda, she deserves the best."

"So do you. Because of the both of you, I found my parents again. I will forever be grateful.  Besides, I have a little sister now. My mother had a baby girl while they were away. Her name is Venus.

"Venus is a nice name." Naliria said, smiling.

"Yes it is."

The duo walked through the fields in the ranch. For Naliria, it was good to be back home and to have John by her side, as well as those she loved. For John, Having Naliria as his wife and having his family complete again, was the best thing that ever happened to him.

                     The End

Copyright © 2015 Karo Oforofuo. All rights reserved.