“Esther, I have something to tell you,” Amara said, advancing toward Esther in the room.
“What is it?” Esther asked. Amara pulled her close and whispered into her ears. “What? Amara, how could you say something like that?
Do you even know the consequences of what you just said? I didn’t know that you harbored such hatred in your heart. Please don’t ever tell me a thing like this again. Never in your life.”
‘Why can’t she believe me?’ Amara thought, watching Esther walk toward the door. ‘Why is it so difficult to believe me?’
Esther had barely even walked through the door when a scream from outside pierced though the walls.
Amara’s eyes widened with fear. She dashed out of the room, meeting Esther in the passageway. “What was that?”
Esther shrugged, trembling with fear. “I hope it’s not what I’m thinking.”
They sprinted to the backyard, where Chioma and the other servants had already gathered, wailing at the top of their voices. There was one fewer of them — Ella.
“What happened?” Amara asked, joining the crowd.
The crowd parted, showing her to the image on the floor. Ella laid on the floor, immobile as though she’d been struck by thunder.
Bursting into tears, Esther and Amara knelt beside Ella, shaking her vigorously.
“Ella, please wake up,” Esther cried.
“She never did anything wrong,” Amara said amidst tears. “She was lively and fun to be with, so why her?”
Miriam was speechless, watching the corpse with tears in her eyes. She could never have imagined that Ella would be killed like a goat. Ella had been more than a friend, she’d been a sister.
“Why do you think they killed Ella?” Amara asked Esther as soon as they had departed from the crowd.
“I don’t know,” Esther said. “God, I am so scared with what is going on. I don’t want to die like this.”
“I told you that those girls were witches, but you refused to believe me,” Amara said. “Okay o, you are on your own. As for me, I will find a way to save myself before it is too late.” She walked away, still sobbing.
Esther folded her arms and inhaled deeply as she thought of Ella’s words. “Could she be saying the truth? How many of us have to die for all this to stop? God please save us.”
“My Queen, you called me,” the Chief Priest said, walking into Queen Jaja’s room.
“Yes,” the Queen said. “I think I have found a perfect pacifier. The death toll is rising by the day. We need to ease her anger before it is too late.”
“I understand what you’re saying,” the Chief Priest said. “The woman is angry and she said that this whole thing started in the palace so she will end it here in the palace.
“We need to offer the sacrifice before she wipes out everyone in this palace including you my Queen. But the gods have not yet chosen anyone for the sacrifice. They only said that the girl must be extraordinary. But who could that be?”
“Her name is Miriam,” Queen Jaja said. “I want her to be used to save my son.”
“But my Queen, remember we need two people and these people must willingly sacrifice themselves,” the Chief Priest said.
“Yes,” she said. “And I have two people already, so prepare for the sacrifice since the festival is only a few days away.”
“Okay, my Queen,” he said. “If you say so. I will make all the necessary arrangements before the festival starts.”