Zoe - episode 13

ZOE. (The missing Seal)
Episode 13.

Mukan asked everyone out of the room where Zoe was seated calmly. She has prepared herself for every outcome.
Challenges and trouble is not a new thing to her anymore she has been groomed into it and nothing surprises her.
Her mother had been consoling after learning of all the mishap that befall her but her father wasn’t. He pour all blame at her feet.
After her mother, Hadar, her brothers and sisters left the room she was faced with her father’s wrath. She wished she can flee from him but there is no other way out. This is her house and Lord Amos sent her home so there was no other place to go.
Zoe stood with her head bent as her father went on unleashing his fury on her.

“What did I tell you when you were leaving this house? What did I say after Lord Amos and his son fulfilled all your marriage rite…answer me quick.

Zoe was quiet and did not answer her father.
He slapped her hard across the face, she staggered and remain still. He hit her again and she fell to the ground and stood back up again

“"… I remember my every word to you Zoe, I told you that you have to make your father in-law to have no doubt in you, make me proud and care for your husband…. You know how important this family is, I asked you to make sure that you do not drag my name to the mud. Be productive and do everything that is required of you. And you assured me that you won’t disappoint. I told you that I won’t spare you if you do…do you remember now?

“Yes father, I remember everything but I tried. I try to be a good wife and a good daughter inlaw. I tried my best to make you proud….i tried father but at the end I wasn’t favored.

“Your effort was not enough, you did not try hard enough Zoe. I gave you to Lord Amos’s son so that you would bear children for him and keep peace between me and Lord Amos. You have failed me…you have failed us all Zoe!

“Father, I’m sorry. I never planned for all this to happen. There’s still hope because Lord Amos gave me his word that he will send for me when Shelar is old enough to fulfill his duty to me.

He turned angrily to her. His eyes burnt with rage.

“And you believed him? You are fool. Shelar is only few years younger than Rolf, he is no more a kid. Shelar is old enough, more reason his father sent him to Hira, to his faraway uncle. Are you too stupid that you cannot think? Shelar is your right and you are supposed to insist on your right not return home to me. What I’m I supposed to do with you now?

Zoe stumbled as another blow landed on her.

“Father, Lord Amos promised…he is a man of great honor he will keep his word to me. I did all I could…I put in everything that I can…

“It was not enough. You should have remained in his house rather than come back here. You are no longer my responsibility. If Lord Amos no longer want you in his house so why should I? You will bring us all misfortune. You are useless, a plague in my house. I have other daughters who need husbands, will any man offer a huge bride price or even come near to my house the moment they learn of my accursed daughter whose two husbands died leaving her childless. You will drive all potential suitor coming for your sisters away. Lord Amos will consider it a favor if I kill you. It will be better you die than to turn my house into misfortune. People will point fingers and there will be ill things said about my household all because of you…

 Cruel and thoughtless word rained down upon Zoe. She was more comfortable with the blow from her father than with his word that cut deeper into her already open wound. She was deeply hurt by a man who was supposed to protect her, her own father.
 She quaked inwardly but dared not show weakness. She has to stand up to her father and let him know she was no more the fragile little girl he handed over to Lord Amos and his son. Hard life experiences had thought her to be strong.
She can’t be intimidated by her father who want to kill her just to maintain a clean name.

“Go ahead and do to me as you wish father. If killing me will give you joy then what are you waiting for…. Get it done with so I will finally find my rest.

Mukan looked at his daughter who was boldly daring him to do his worst to her.
He raised another fist to blow her but instead of her to stand still and take the blow like the others she dodged it and dared him further. Anger burn fiercely in her eyes as she speaks back at him.

“Is this the best way you think you can kill me father, flinging muscle on your own daughter? You should be ashamed of yourself. There should be a better way to kill not throwing a punch to my face because I have pass this stage. I got lots of punches and blow back in Lord Amos house so this one is little compare to what I’m used to. Upgrade father and do better with those hands of yours. Kill me and when Lord Amos sent for me tell him that you killed Zoe in a fit of rage and you will watch him burn down your entire household, your flocks and your field. I wholly accept your denial and rejection, since I no longer belong here you have no right to raise a hand at me. Lord Amos is a wealthy man, I belong to his household and he will do harm to you if you hurt me in anyway…

Mukan was quiet now listening to his daughter. Zoe used the advantage to cast in more fear to her father’s mind.

“…Father, all Lord Amos asked is for you to care, feed and provide for me until he is ready to take me back. He never said you should kill me or raise a hand on me…

Mukan breathed deeply before asking his daughter whose eyes shone with pain of anguish

“To care and provide for you? How long…just for how long do I have to do that? I have other daughters and sons to care for. Why do you bring your trouble to me? I will rather cast you out…

“Then go right ahead. Cast me out father and when Lord Amos comes for me you will tell him that you cast me out. I guess that will be a good excuse to honorable man like Lord Amos. You have a family to boast off now but if he unleash his anger on you…hmmmm, father you will be really sorry for yourself. I live with him for years so I’m in a better place to tell you more about him. He does not like his word to be toiled with and that is what you are doing by beating me up or wanting to kill me. You just have to do as he said if you want him to remain your ally. Provide for my needs and care for me maybe after few years he will send for me and I will no longer be your responsibility but you still have a choice to kill me if that is what you truly want. I have seen too much pain and death already so I’m no longer afraid of death father…

Zoe watch his father’s face turned pale. He became uncomfortable. The root of fear has been successfully planted deeply into him. Then he said.

“Lord Amos may not be as powerful as before. He is just one man with one son now….don‘t make him seem like a demi god to me. His two sons are dead and his remaining son is still growing. I have sons and I have daughters but he has only one, he can’t do much as before….

A chill washed over Zoe. Her father was right. Sons makes a man powerful and Amos has only one but her father has over three sons.
Zoe refused to be put down. She boldly countered her father’s word.

“Lord Amos is a strong man in the society, well recognized, powerful, wealthy and honorable. He can raise an army who will fight for him within a seconds. He has powerful brothers who lives far and near, they also have a strong badge in the society. But even with your sons... father you are still counting on somebody like Amos to have a name. You still boast with his name, even with your sons, father you can’t be compared to Lord Amos's Seal. Ooh his identification seal is far powerful than all your achievement. He swore with his seal and I touched his staff….he will keep his word to me. Do not think of daring a man like that father and don’t say I did not warn you. Let’s end this conversation already. Do as Lord Amos demand of you and there will be peace.

Zoe smile inwardly as she finally succeeded in conquering her father. He gasped out, feeling defeated. he said.

“You will have to work with others. You will not just sit, eat, grow fat and become lazy in my house. You will work alongside, both in the field and within the house. If Lord Amos asked why I send you to work in the field I will give him my reasons. You can’t be lazy in my house. You will not lie all day in bed because of Lord Amos asked me to feed you and care for you. You will have to be a servant in my house until he sent for you. No stepping out of the house except to the wheat field or to where I approve off. You will remain in your quarters whenever we have a visitor or having an important celebration. You will have to keep your distance to avoid people gossiping. You are bonded here and it will remain so until you are out of my house. I will feed you and care for you but do not disobey my orders because I will not spare you. I will discipline you greatly if you take my word for granted. I had a great hope that you will build a bridge between me and Lord Amos, the stars did not foresee the trouble you will bring to me. You brought disgrace to my house Zoe…you are a big disgrace to me.

Zoe’s emotion raise. She looked up at her father and spoke calmly

“I have this hope that one day Lord Amos will thank you because of the blessing I will bring to him…

Mukan laugh sarcastically. He turned to his daughter

“You don’t look like anything close to been a blessing. It appears you are probably cursed from birth. At your young age two husbands who are both dead, no child to call yours…. who will cover your shame. Do you talk about blessing to me Zoe or do you mean been a curse? Can you bring back the sons of Lord Amos that died in your care? Zoe you are far from been a blessing and you are not even fit to be called my daughter so you will have to take a quarter among the maidens…the household maids. That is where you will remain until Lord Amos comes to take you away from my house and far from my sight.

Zoe felt relieved. She bow her head to her father.

“Is fine by me. I will do as you say and I will be your humble servant. I will glean the field and milk the goat. I will join in cultivating the land and in harvesting the crops. I will remain hidden if you have a visitor. I promise to obey all you have commanded. Don’t fail to provide all I may need too because you are also doing it for Lord Amos.

Zoe saw the disappointment in her father’s eyes. He would have done so much harm to her and even throw her out if she has not stand up to him. She was relieved to be home far from Lady Shamar, her incensed shrines and pagan gods. She hope that someday Lord Amos will send for her so that she will free her father of the burden of knowing she was living in his house.

“One more thing Zoe. You are young and soon your widow garb will wear out. The years will pass like an ocean and you will see your chances of having children fade. A time will come when you will long for what other maidens’ desires but if you do…I will let Lord Amos decide your fate. Zoe I will burn you alive if you do such…you have brought enough shame to me already do not worsen it up...

Zoe understood exactly what her father was talking about which is mingling with another man or getting pregnant under his roof. She will never do such. In such cases it will be her death and her father will even celebrate for getting rid of her.

“I will be faithful father. I will no longer bring shame to you or to Lord Amos. I swore it upon my life that I will not bring shame to the household of Lord Amos rather I will bring honor to him.

As her father asked her to go, her throat choke, she fought tears as she walked away from her father who has becomes her master and she became handmaid servant in his household.

Zoe joined others in their daily activity. And as time goes on she felt free. Her mother was there for her, Hadar was everly caring and her sisters did not keep their distance. She worked in the field and milk the goat. Her task was just the normal things she usually do back in Lord Amos household and  her father made sure he provide for the entire house, she was not left out in anything.

To be continued

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