The Slave Prince Chapter 6

The Half-Brothers

Agawe slipped out the door. He heard voices in the front yard. He quietly walked to the side of the house until he could see the front yard. There he saw several men. And he saw two men carrying Anson by the shoulder. He also saw Masami walking in front of them.

As they entered the house, Agawe hurried back to the kitchen door. He found a tree stump nearby and sat down.

Voices flared up but Agawe could hardly make out the words. The kitchen door suddenly opened and Agawe jumped up. The old woman came out, “Agawe…get inside,” she said calmly.

Agawe followed her into the large room where Anson and Masami were seated on two stools facing Ubo who sat like a judge on the bench next to the wall, his hands on the table over his sword.

The old woman made Agawe stand at the end of the long bench facing the two brothers on trial, as Agawe thought.

“Agawe…” Ubo said, “tell these two here what you heard them talk about in the forest.”

Agawe took a deep breath and slowly narrated what he saw and heard.

Masami’s eyes were fixed on Agawe while Anson’s head was bent. He was moaning in pain as far as Agawe could tell and nobody even tried to help him. Many times Masami interrupted Agawe by screaming “liar’ and tried to charge at him but the men standing next to him subdued him.

“So this man is lying, Masami?” Ubo asked. Agawe’s heart was pounding. He could be in danger here. These people are family. What have I gotten myself into, he asked himself, quietly shaking.

“He is lying! Would you believe that stranger than your own brother…!!!”

“Half-brother…” Ubo corrected him. Then turned to Agawe, “My half-brother is saying you are a liar, Agawe…”

“I… am telling the truth, Tiyo! I have nothing to gain if I lie and you saw how your other brother was about to knock you down… with… with that wood…” Agawe stammered.

“Two against one, Masami… Anson and Agawe have said the same thing…” Ubo looked at Anson, “Anson! Look at me!”

A man lifted Anson’s head. Blood drained from his face and his eyes were shut. Ubo turned to his mother, “Innà….”

The old woman left and when she came back, she had a cup of hot liquid which she handed to the man next to Anson. “Make him drink that…. It will help ease the pain…”

While the man made Anson drink the concoction, three wailing women burst into the room.

Agawe saw Ubo took a deep breath and exhaled in exasperation.

The oldest woman screamed at Ubo, “What did you do to my sons?”

The other two women were the wives of Anson and Masami.

While Anson’s wife went into hysterics, Masami’s wife angrily demanded what was going on.

Ubo was unperturbed while the women continued to make a ruckus.

The mother of Anson and Masami turned to Ubo’s mother. “Abet… how could you allow your arrogant son to do this to my children? If Husband was alive, he would not allow this!!”

“Silence!” Ubo roared as he banged his fist on the table. The room fell into silence. For a moment, Agawe felt that nobody even dared to breath. “Go home… all of you! Masami, help your brother get home.”

Everyone scampered out but after a few minutes, the mother of Anson and Masami came back inside.

“What do you want?” Ubo asked impatiently.

“We don’t have food at home.”

Ubo took a deep breath, “Innà, can you see that they have food for several days?”

Ubo’s mother left.

“Un-nod, did you know that your children plotted to kill me?” Ubo asked the woman standing near the kitchen door.

“Manama… they will not do that!” she gasped.

“What did I do to your children? Did I not treat them well?” he said very calmly.

“It’s not them,” she lowered her voice, “It’s their wives… always wanting more… always telling my sons that they should get more land…”

Apô Abet appeared with a basket, “Here… rice and dried meat. This will last for days.”

Ehh… madita salamat, Abet,” she thanked Apo Abet profusely and left hurriedly.

Agawe found the whole thing strange.

Agawe Meets Ayong

“Look at those people, Innà… they want to kill me and get all the land for themselves but without me, they cannot even provide food for themselves…”

“They are foolish, Ubo… foolish…” she sat opposite her son. “Agawe here will go wherever you go. You cannot trust anyone now.”

Ubo stood up and took his sword. “Agawe, Innà trusts you… but if you betray that trust…” he pointed the sheathed sword to Agawe’s face, “I will kill you myself.”

Agawe swallowed. “I will not betray Apô’s trust, Tiyo… and I will not betray you…”

He nodded. “And I will not forget you saved my life…”

When her son left the room, the old woman called out in a shrill voice, “Ayong….”

A young boy’s head appeared from one of the rooms upstairs, “You called, Apô?”

“Come down …”

“Agawe, this is Ayong. He will take you to where you would live. He is a good boy. He runs errands for me.”

“Follow me,” Ayong told Agawe.

Agawe looked at the old woman and she dismissed them with a wave of her hand.

“You are working for my uncle?” the young boy asked.

“Is he your real uncle? I mean are you his brother’s son?”

“I am the son of his half-brother in the third family…”

“How old are you?”

“Fifteen…”

Agawe kept quiet. He did not want to sound too inquisitive. This boy might tell Ubo or the old woman about something he said that would not sound good. They turned a bend and there it was, a bamboo house with stairs.

“This is where you live,” the boy said. “This is where my grandmother and my aunt lived but when my Apô died, my aunt was married off so no one lives in this house anymore,” Ayong explained.

The hut was surrounded with coconut trees and there was a little unattended flower garden in front. They climbed up and Agawe liked it that the bamboo floor was elevated from the ground. He had had enough of sleeping on mud floors. Aside from the stone stove, the house was just an empty box. There was a window on two opposite walls. For Agawe who lived all his life in a hut with a mud floor, the house was a big improvement. Agawe was happy with his hut.

They returned to the large wooden house for dinner. Agawe shared his meal with the other household staff in the kitchen table while Ayong joined the family in the large room with the long table.

After he made sure that he was no longer needed, Agawe walked to his hut. To his surprise, Ayong walked with him with a glowing piece of wood from the stone stove in the kitchen.

“You might need fire…” Ayong said and strolled with Agawe until they reached his hut.

Ayong fumbled at the stove and used his piece of ember to kindle the dried twigs. He added more wood and in no time, he had a crackling fire which lighted the hut.

Agawe was amused. “I am surprised you can do that… ”

“Apô Abet trained me to do many things…” Ayong said. “She wants me to be able to fend for myself at all times…”

Ayong settled on the floor. “Tell me about you…” he said.

Agawe thought this boy was put up to it… they wanted to know more about him. “Your Apô could be waiting for you.”

“She knows I am with you… and they have people coming to the house tonight … I am not needed there. So where are you from?”

Agawe knew there was no way out of talking to this boy. Actually, he liked the boy so he started telling him about his life when he and his friend Egul were younger.

“When we were twelve, we learned how to hunt deers. We started with small ones. We can never outrun a deer so Egul and I, we ran everyday until one day, we chased a deer and we got him. We were so proud that first time we brought a deer home.”

His stories were filled with his adventures with Egul that Ayong got curious. He asked where Egul was.

“He is … ahh…serving a master now.”

“Is Egul al-lang?”

“Yes…”

“Your friend is al-lang? Your Innà allows you to play with al-lang?”

“Why not? Innà is al-lang, too…”

Ayong’s eyes grew big as he struggled to stand up. “You are al-lang?” he asked in disbelief as he tripped but got up fast. “I am not supposed to talk to al-langs…” He slowly stepped back towards the door.

“Your Apô knows I am al-lang. Your uncle knows… They said al-langs are more loyal than relatives…” but Ayong had bounded down the stairs and sped off.

Agawe was left scratching his head. He took a deep breath and tried to make sense of everything that happened since he followed Egul. When was that? It seemed like it was years ago. His thoughts drifted to his Innà and Apô Ugay as he laid down in the bamboo floor. Will he ever see them again? Then he drifted off.

He heard someone calling his name from far away. He kept asking, “Who are you?” but there was no answer except that faint sound of his name.

“Agawe… Agawe…” It became louder and louder. “Agawe!”

He woke up. He realized he was dreaming but before he could collect his wits, Ayong was standing right next to him with a sword in his hand.

Read Chapter 7

© 2013 Virgo908

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