Zara had to be the most beautiful bride Kijani had ever seen, but then he was biased when it came to her. He held her hand and repeated the words the chief priest told him to.
“Earth, wind, fire and ice, I am hers and she is mine until the day….”
Before he could finish his vows, a loud battle cry was heard. Everyone froze until the king shouted for someone to get his spear. The raiders had come. Every couple of years, raiders came to steal grain soon after harvest but usually during the night. None had ever been so bold as to come during the day. The village was unprepared for battle. Everyone had attended the wedding and no one was manning the boarders. To make matters worse, only a few had brought weapons as it was meant to be a joyous occasion. Zara grabbed onto Kijani’s hand tightly fear written all over her eyes.
“Go with the women towards the caves my love. You will be safe there,” he said loosening her grip.
“You have to come with me, please don’t make me leave you,” she cried.
“You know I cannot do that. What kind of future king does that make me? I cannot leave my men to battle while I cower and hide in the shadows”
“ZARA GO!” he bellowed.
The women grabbed onto her and started dragging her away kicking and screaming. Before they could get to the caves, the enemy descended upon them.
“Forgive the intrusion my Queen,” the leader said in a mocking tone, “but eight summers ago your husband attacked my village and killed my father and now the time to pay has come”
The women huddled in a circle, fearing for their lives.
“Take me and let the others go then. Your revenge is against my husband and these women are innocent.” The Queen responded.
“ My Queen, I have no use for an old and haggard woman like you, but your daughter in law on the other hand is pure and just my type,” the man responded smiling maliciously. ” Seize her!” he shouted, “Take the rest to the caves and make sure they stay there” he commanded his men.
The man did as commanded and dragged away a crying Zara. The leader grabbed Zara’s hand and tore away one of the gold bracelets she was wearing. With a loud cry, he led the rest of his men towards the battle ground.
“Kijani you are outnumbered and its best you surrender!” the leader shouted brandishing the golden bracelet.
“Where did you get that?” Kijani asked, but he already knew the answer to that.
“Your bride is such a beauty, no wonder you married her, or at least tried to,” the man said laughing. “How she cried for you as I defiled her!”
Kijani did not wait to hear anymore but simply attacked. No battle had been bloody as the one on that day. He fought like a man possessed, feeling no pain as the enemy’s blade cut into him. His only mission was to avenge the love of his life who had cried for him as a stranger raped her. At long last when many had fallen and he was covered in blood, he fell to the ground as his strength left him. In that moment between life and death, he heard the beautiful voice of his love.
“I’m right here. It’s okay” she said to him
“He sa— he…” Kijani tried to speak.
“Shh don’t try to speak, okay” Zara said as she tried to stop the blood from where his stomach had been sliced open. He followed her eyes to his injury and knew there was no getting up from it.
“Your ——v—ows” he croaked as blood gushed from his mouth.
“Earth, wind, fire and ice, I am his and he is mine until the day of eternal rest,” she whispered to him as she watched the life ebb out of his eyes. Clad in her marriage attire, sitting in a bloody battlefield, Zara wailed for her one true love. To this day, it is said, if you listen closely on the full moon after the harvest, Zara’s wails can still be heard, the virgin bride crying for her dead prince.