The lions got tired of snarling and started towards us. I almost passed out just at the thought of them sinking their teeth or claws into my soft flesh.
“Blood of Jesus, blood of Jesus!” I screamed.
“Relax!” Jane said, “They are not after us, they are after the gorillas”.
“What gorillas?” I wanted to ask, but then, the question froze on my lips as I watched the lions run past us in their numbers.
“Didn’t I tell you?” Jane smiled.
“But how did you know?” I asked.
“Ever since you woke up, you’ve been too busy being scared and thinking what a delicious meal you were about to make. You obviously didn’t hear the chant of the gorillas far behind us. After binding us with the ropes, they went into the bush to hide. Unfortunately for them, the lions knew they were there. How they knew, is what I don’t know.”
I was really amazed by what she had said, and I thanked my star that I wasn’t going to be anyone’s meal. Our attention went back to the lions, within few minutes, all of them ran past us except one. This one stood back and watched the others with a worried expression. This particular lion was different from the others though. Very hairy, big, about 6ft plus in standing position. His paws were bigger and his claws sharper. He looked like he could take on all the gorillas put together but yet, he was gentle, and thoughtful.
While the others ran towards the gorillas, he watched, and analysed what was to happen. In the distance behind, we suddenly saw troops of armed men matching towards us. There must have been thousands of them. Half of the men were dressed in cream coloured shorts and top, while the other half wore dark brown tops on shorts. They all held spears in one hand and something that looked like a cutlass in the other. Their appearance reminded me of african soldiers of old.
“Who are they?” Jane asked.
“I don’t know Jane.” I said. “I’m as confused as you are, if not more.”
We watched the men for a while but then, our attention shifted back to the lion. By this time, it had raised one paw up, then he gently squeezed it. As soon as he did that, terrible wind broke out. The trees waved their leaves as their branches bowed in different directions. The army coming from behind covered their eyes because of the dust and whirlwind around them. The head lion, however, didn’t seem affected and since he was standing close to us, we were not affected either. As the wind blew, he spoke.
“Withdraw my loyal subjects,” he said, his voice a deep bass. “We have been fooled.” That said, he put down his hand and the wind stopped. We couldn’t turn around to see what was happening but soon, we saw the lions walk past us again. They came back in their numbers. As soon as they stood before their leader again, they bowed. From behind, the army quickly caught up with the lions.
The man in front was dressed differently from the others. While they simply wore shirts on shorts, the man wore a white robe. A crown made of gold and white beads sat comfortably on his head. He held a royal staff in one hand and a horse whip in the other. He looked very serious as he walked up to the leader of the lions, leaving his own men behind.
“Orke!” He called, “why have you called them back?” He asked, even before he got close enough. He was a tall, dark-complexioned man in his early forties. He had a mustache and side beards that were well-trimmed.
The leader of the lions turned around and bowed before him, the other lions followed. “My king, we have been deceived.” Orke, the lion said, still bowing.
“I don’t understand”, He said, confused, “What do you mean deceived?”
“The gorillas are not the enemy your majesty, the enemy is in your own camp”.
“The king frowned and looked back at his men. Sensing that their cover had been blown, the soldiers on dark brown uniform gave a loud war cry before lunching an attack on the soldiers with cream coloured uniforms.
“What is this?” The king asked, with eyes wide open.
“Your brother is behind this, your majesty,” Orke said, as he straightened up, “It’s so unfortunate that I didn’t see this coming”.
“He will not get away with this”, The king said, as he started towards them, swiping out a cutlass which my eyes had earlier missed.
The lion quickly blocked him, “You can’t do this my king. If you fight, you may be killed”.
“Well what do you expect me to do? Watch them kill my men off?”
“No! But we want you…”
“Help us!” I said, interrupting them. They were too busy with their war, they didn’t seem to notice us. If nothing was done to save us, we could be killed. For the first time since we all found ourselves in the same place, the lion and king looked at us.
“Who are they?” The king asked.
“Bait.” Orke replied. “The gorillas used them as bait.”
“Please help us.” Jane pleaded. “We don’t want to die.”
Having compassion for us, the king cut Jane loose. He was about to also cut me loose when he buckled and cried out in pain. He staggered a little. With the little strength he had left, he cut me lose and then fell to the ground, face down. There was a long spear stuck in his back. While he was about to cut me loose, someone threw a spear at him. Whoever did it was very good at aiming. The spear pierced through his flesh and planted itself deep in his back.
Orke was quickly by his side, but there was nothing he could do. Jane and I wanted to pull the spear out of his back but the lion stopped us.
“If you pull it out, you will kill him”. Orke warned.
After a moment’s thought, trying to come up with a plan to save the king’s life, he spoke. “Take him! Take him quick!”
“What? I don’t understand”, I protested.
“Carry him, both of you!” The lion ordered. “Find the spring, and give him clean water from it to drink!”
“Spring water?” Jane asked, bewildered, “there is only black water in this place”.
“Yes. I agreed, “Black, stinking water”.
“Listen to simple instruction and follow”, Orke yelled at us, “find the spring water, and give him to drink from it. If you don’t do it and he dies, you two will be buried along with him”, He threatened.
Not wanting such fate for ourselves, We quickly carried him the best way we could and escaped from the war field. We got into the forest and started looking everywhere for spring water. Carrying the king about, with the long spear still attached to his back, was not an easy task at all, however, we kept moving.
After about fifteen minutes of searching, we got tired and decided to rest. We put the king down, and also sat down to rest.
“What are we going to do?” I asked, “the lion said if he dies, we would be buried with him. How on earth are we going to find spring water in a place like this?” I kept on ranting about our unfortunate situation, I didn’t notice that Jane had stood up and was smiling to herself.
“Have faith Phil,” She said, “we’ve found spring water”.
At first I frowned at what she said but when I saw that she was still looking out and smiling, I got up and looked in the direction too. My eyes widened and my lips curved into a smile as I looked at the river some distance away from where we stood, “But are you sure that’s spring water?” I asked.
“I don’t know yet,” Jane admitted, “But we will find out. Come, let us carry him”.
We bent low and were about to carry the King, when we got distracted by rustling in the nearby bush. We frowned and looked at each other before looking in the direction of the rustling bush.
You can only Imagine our fear when a gorilla emerged from the bush and slowly walked towards us. Our heart beat doubled as we quickly looked around for sticks. We found some weak ones but, we didn’t mind. We had to use it to defend ourselves.
“Stay back!” Jane warned, pointing the stick at it. I also pointed mine but we knew it was useless. However, the gorilla stopped in its track and looked at us closely.
“I only want to help.” It said, with a sad expression.
“And how do you intend to do that?” I asked.
“He is dying. If we waste 10 more minutes here, he will die”, the gorilla pointed out.
“Oh God! What are we going to do?” I asked Jane. I was already so scared. If the king dies, I knew we were going to die too.
“Trust me”, the gorilla appealed, “let me take him to the spring, you can come along”.
Without waiting for approval, the gorilla carried the king over his broad shoulder and turned away, heading to wherever the spring was. We threw down out weak sticks and ran after him, but he was not slowing down. If anything, he was running.
It so turned out that the water we saw earlier was not spring water. After about 6 minutes of running, we got to the bank of a river with very clean water. Once there, the gorilla gently put the king down and then, he carefully removed the spear from his back.
So much blood oozed out but he was not deterred. He turned the king face up, before using both his hands to get water from the spring.
“Open his mouth.” He instructed. We obeyed. And he poured the water in. It wasn’t easy forcing it down the king’s throat but we succeeded. The gorilla brought more water and again, we opened the kings mouth and made him drink it.
After giving him the water the fifth time, the gorilla turned him over and washed his wounded back, where the spear was stuck. As soon as he was done, he carried the king over his shoulder again, but this time, he did not run. He simply walked gently and we followed behind.
We soon got to a small cave. He put the king down to rest and asked us to stay with him.
“He will be fine, but you need to watch over him”, the gorilla said, “you will be safe here, no one will harm you”, he turned to leave but we stopped him.
“We thought you wanted to fight the king”, I said, “so why are you helping him now?”
“We never wanted to fight the king”, he said, looking sad, “the king has always been just. He always gave us a listening ear”.
“So what happened?” Jane asked.
“We were deceived. We were told the king was ashamed of us as his subject and wanted us dead. We were told he wanted our lands for himself and never wanted to see us again. The king’s brother convinced us that starting a war was the only way to destroy the king and his wicked plans for us. We never knew that the brother was actually the one plotting against us and the king. He wanted us out because he wanted to sell our land to some foreigners. He also wanted the king dead, so he could take over the throne and everything that belongs to the king. We tired to talk to Orke about what we heard but then, he was always with the king. We thought they were in league”.
“That’s treason, isn it?” I asked, “I mean what the king’s brother did”.
“Yes it is, and we almost fell into the plan”, the gorilla said, as he looked down at the king with regret in his expression, “I hope he forgives us”.
“He will”, Jane assured him, “when he understands what happened, he will have no choice but to forgive”.
The gorilla nodded, stood up and started out, “you will be safe here.” He said before leaving.
We understood how terribly he felt. His clan almost fought against the king, a man who had always supported them and taken them as part of his loyal subjects.
We spent the rest of the day in the cave, although we were very hungry, we dared not go out. We were scared of what we might come in contact with.
In a world full of talking animals and people who were at war, it was better to stay put. Night came and the owls resumed their hooting on the trees. We were no longer scared. We ignored them.
By morning, we woke up to the sound of people and animals just outside our cave.
“What’s happening now?” Jane asked, looking scared, “I thought the gorilla said we were safe here?”
“Yes he did.” I replied. “Look, lets just relax, and see whats happening first”.
We sat up, rubbed our sleepy eyes and were about to get on our feet when we noticed, for the first time, that the king was not in the cave.
“Oh my God!” I cried. “Where is the king?”
Jane remained transfixed, her eyes never leaving the spot the king laid on the night before, “he’s gone”, she whispered, before looking up at me, “he’s gone, do you know what that means?”
“It means we are dead”, I swallowed, “we have to escape, and we have to do it now”.
Not wasting more time, we dragged our hungry selves out of the cave but then, we paused. We paused because of what we saw. The king was sitting outside with Orke and some gorillas. Also, some of his soldiers were there and they seemed to be having a serious conversation.
From the little we heard, the king’s men, with the joint effort of the lions and gorillas, won the war against his brother.
“You know you could have just told us you were outside,” Jane said, cutting into their conversation, “Instead of making us fear you had been kidnapped”.
The king, Orke, the soldiers and the gorillas, looked at us as if we were some stupid girls who didn’t have manners. “Is that anyway to address your king?” Orke asked.
“But he should have…” I didn’t get to finish my statement, as men from behind suddenly grabbed us and forced us to kneel.
“You are talking to your king.” One of them said, “show some respect”.
We both recognised the voice so we looked up, only to see the prisoner who was in the gorilla’s caged with us, the previous night. “You?” I asked, almost in disgust.
“Leave the ladies alone.” The king ordered from where he sat. The men left us alone but we dared not stand up, “come,” the king commanded.
We stood up and walked to where he sat, with our heads bowed. We didn’t know he stood up until he walked up to us and placed a finger, each, under our chins and raised our heads up with it. “It is a rule in my kingdom that when a woman saves the king’s life, she must be his queen”.
“What?” I wanted to ask, but I dared not speak.
“We didn’t save your life,” Jane said, her head still bowed.
“Are you saying that because you don’t want to be my queen?” He asked, chuckling.
“No. The gorilla saved you”, I spoke up, “he was the one who took you to the spring in time and gave you water to drink. Then he brought us here to hide”.
“I already know that”, He said. “But I also know that it was the both of you who stayed with me throughout the night. Parfa!” He called.
“Your majesty!” Parfa, the prisoner from the previous night, answered.
“Take these ladies to the palace”, he ordered, “tell the maids to dress them up in the finest attires. For today, I will marry my queens”.
“Yes sir.” Parfa replied, and led us away into a bush part.
“Why are you doing this?” I asked when we had gone far away from the king and the others.
“I’m only doing what I have to do.” Parfa replied. “Look, you don’t need to be scared. The story in the book once had a sad ending. The king died, and his brother succeeded in taking over the throne. But we averted that. I was the one who informed Orke that the gorillas were going to use two ladies as bait. So he wasn’t surprised to see both of you. However, I still can’t tell why, with all his magic powers, he didn’t know what the plot was until the last-minute. Anyway, what’s important is that you saved the king, and his traitor of a brother has been arrested. Anyone who reads the book now, will read a happy ending, instead of the sad one that used to be”.
“So you are saying we changed the story?” Jane asked.
“Yes. Anyone who comes here from our world, always change the story. But this time, we made it better.”
“Does marrying the king have to be part of our happy ending?” I asked, perplexed.
“But what?” We asked at once.
“You don’t have to really marry him. This is where we say goodbye to this world”.
Parfa didn’t answer that last question. He simply led us to a well and without warning of any kind, threw us in and also jumped in.
I woke up with a start. My eyes blinked as it gradually became accustomed to the brilliant rays of the golden sun, which had crept into my room.
I rubbed my eyes and sat up, so did Jane. The TV was still on and so was the DVD player. Nothing had changed in the room and we felt more like we had just woken up from a weird dream.
“We are back!” Jane said.
“Yes”, I replied, smiling, “We really are back.”
We hugged each other for a while before pulling back. “At least we didn’t die there”, Jane said.
“No. We were lucky.”
We turned the other way and saw the book, The Lost Tale, lying innocently on the bed. Its light brown cover reflected in the sun light. The image of Orke and the king remained motionless in front of the cover, as they stared at us unwaveringly.
“We have to read this book.” Jane said, caressing the hard cover.
“Yes we have to,” I agreed. “But first, we have to get to work. No one will believe our story if we get there late. A sack letter is all we will get”.
We quickly got dressed and went to the office. We went about our routine work and finally, we closed for the day. First, we went over to Jane’s so she could pick some things before heading back to my place. We were almost at my house when someone tapped us from behind. We turned around and were pleasantly surprised.
“Parfa!!!” We called at the same time. He looked really different in his blue, long-sleeved shirt and black trouser, with a black tie to match.
“Yes its me.” He said before moving in on Jane and kissing her passionately. For a brief moment, I was confused. I was confused because Jane kissed him back.
“What is this?” I asked.
The duo quickly pulled back and Jane landed a slap on his face. “What was that for?” She asked, pretending to be annoyed.
“Don’t play that game with me Jane, you like it, I saw the way you kissed him back”.
“Well he moved in on me first”.
“I’ve wanted to do that since but I couldn’t”, Parfa said, “I didn’t want the story to say Parfa stole one of the king’s wife to be and ran off with her. So I waited. When I got back, I decided it will be best to find you”.
“So touching.” I said, rolling my eyes.
“I may consider you.” Jane said at last, as her eyes scrutinized him from head to toe. “But it depends on what you are asking for”.
“I’m asking for a serious relationship”, He said.
“Okay” she said, pushing her lips forward. “Let us try, and see where this takes us, Parfa”.
“No, not here.” He chuckled, as he pulled her back into his embrace. “In this world of ours, my name is Femi”.
“That sounds better.” I said smiling. “So, are we going to my place? Or am I going to stand here and watch you two devour each other with your eyes and smiles?”
“We will go to your place.” Femi said. “We need to read the new story we made”.
“Cool. Lets go.” Jane agreed.
We spent the rest of the day reading, and then discussing the book’s new happily ever after.
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