No one knows the secret Miriam hides behind her smile, and she is determined to carry this secret to the grave. When the Prince returns home, her feelings for him flare quickly, and soon, she realizes that there are more important issues than her identity. Years ago, an innocent woman was killed in Ikemba. Little did the people of Ikemba know where this act of injustice would lead them. The threat of annihilation hovers in the air. The village of Ikemba is close to its demise. Series of deaths in the palace leave the village shaken. The only thing that can save Ikemba from the impending doom is the willing sacrifice of two women. But who will give up her life to save her people? Will the Prince accept this sacrifice, even though it means saving his life and losing the only woman he has ever loved? Will Miriam accept the death of the only man she’s ever loved, or will she do the unexpected?

Her heart swelling with a news she could not
contain, Ella raced into the room she shared with her fellow palace maids. Her roommates had been cleaning up the room, but her sudden presence made them halt. She had brought news. They could tell from the look on her face.
“Girls, have you heard?” Ella asked, panting.
She had broken into a sprint just so she could be the first to break the news .
BBC, what news do you have for us today?”
Esther asked nonchalantly.
“Hey Esther,” Ella said, a friendly smile
creeping to her face.
“I always bring clean news, so don’t insult me just because I decided to help you by bringing the latest happening in this palace to your very own hearing o.”
The third maid, Amara, bubbled with anticipation
as she awaited the news Ella had brought. “Sorry, don’t mind her. Just tell us what you have for us.”
“Anyway I don’t blame you, so I will still give
you the news sha,” Ella said to Esther. Facing Amara and the rest of the maids, she smiled broadly.
“The Prince is coming back
“What!” the maids exclaimed in unison.
“Yes and do you know the worst part?” Ella
“No,” Esther said. “Tell us.”
Ella moved to the girls—now muddled as one—and
whispered into their eager ears. Walls had ears, so she wouldn’t want the words from her lips to reach the wrong ears.
“What!” the girls screamed, their eyes round
with fear.
“Why would the Queen perform such a ritual?”
Amara asked. “I mean wasn’t it banned by the former Chief Priest?

Why would the Chief Priest perform such an evil thing in this land again?”
“But why is the Prince coming back home and why
is it that no body is aware of his coming eh?” Esther asked.
Miriam stood by the window, her fingers tightly
wrapped around a mop. She looked up at the ceiling and a ghastly fear welled up in her stomach. Despite this, she wore her best smile, blinding the world from her true emotions.
‘Oh heavens, why is he coming back so soon
already?’ she said to herself ‘ What am I even saying eh? This is his home, so maybe he misses it and that’s why he is coming home. But I hope he doesn’t distract me from my mission in this palace.’
“Miriam, what do you think about the Prince’s return?” Esther asked, interrupting her thoughts.
Miriam’s grip on the wooden mop tightened even
more. Esther’s question had caught her off guard, draining her face of its chocolatey glow. But she did a good job at concealing her
“What kind of question is that? ”
“But you guys used to be best of friends,” Esther said, more like a question than a statement.
Miriam rolled her eyes.
“You said used to be. Not any more, Esther, so please let me be.” Without another word, she placed the mop against \the wall. Gliding from the wall, the mop clattered to the tiled floor, but Miriam paid no attention to it. She stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind her.
“Hmm,” Amara said. Her face hardened, flaunting
her exasperation. “What’s wrong with that one?”
Esther waved off her question and any further
conversation about Miriam’s attitude as though she were swatting at a mosquito.
“I wonder what the Prince now looks like,” she said, smiling sheepishly.
Chioma, who had been quietly listening to the
conversation, chimed in, “I’m very sure that he has grown into a very handsome young man, and I am also sure that now that he has grown up, things will not be the same again. He will start acting like the Prince he is.”
“Do you think he will be harsh on us or friendly?” Ella asked Chioma. Just make sure you do all your chores so that no one will have any reason to be harsh on you.” Chioma walked out of the room, leaving the others thinking about the unfolding event.


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