Who could have believed that Pagan was the same child that almost died on the day of his birth alongside his mother? The day of his birth was a gloomy day for the family of Esuwamiri. Shortly after he was born, the mother bled to death; the local midwives watched helplessly, as they could do nothing to salvage the situation. Pagan almost followed suite as he developed complications shortly after his birth. The situations that surrounded Paganâ€™s birth and how he survived left an indelible imprint on the father's heart; he dotted on him as a mother hen would do her chicks. Pagan was raised in abject poverty in a town called Valleytown. A town with very infertile soils and prolonged harvest seasons. Compared to other enclaves, Valleytown is reckoned as the poorest amongst the poor. The climate is unfavorable with extreme weather conditions; when the flood gate of heaven opens, it comes with so much rage that people scrabble for safety as the whole village becomes a river with floating houses and lifeless bodies of those who did not survive the torrent. And during the dry season, the sun with its blistering heat leaves the river dry and countless numbers of animal carcasses as a result of drought. The inhabitants are not left out as many, particularly the old, are unable to survive the blistering heat. The majority of the inhabitants are free thinkers who do not believe in the existence of the city called Mountaintop Boulevard not to talk of believing in its King. They are entrenched in the worship of a deity called Arogoto, who they believed is the ultimate protector of their town. Each year they offer sacrifices unto this deity to appease him. In Valleytown, manâ€™s inhumanity to man is the order of the day. The usual clichĂ© of being 'your brotherâ€™s keeper' is eclipsed by the wickedness that pervaded the horizon. People care less of what happens to the other. It is believed that the deity Arogoto has an unrestrained grip over the souls of those in this enclave by controlling their minds, dictating their pace and orchestrating their lives and desires.
It is a Valley of doom and perdition in the real sense of the word. Fierce looking taskmasters called Sapagi, who have sworn allegiance to Arogoto, were given the mandate to watch over the land and ensure that the clan codes were religiously enforced and obeyed. Depending on the gravity of offense, citizens are either put in the prisons called holes, where they will not have access to food, water and even any form of human communications, or they will be killed outright in the most gruesome manner and in the open glare of the people in order to serve as a deterrent to others. Aside from these duties, the Sapagis' are known to forcefully take over other people's harvest and have carnal knowledge of the women, whether married or not, and nobody dares to question them. They are considered as the defacto gods of the land. Their words are law and their laws are harsh. With a careful look at the inhabitants of Valleytown, you would see shackles on the feet of everyone and children are not exempt. It is believed that these shackles restrict the movement of the people and as a result, they cannot escape from this den. This is a common feature of the land; ankles blackened by the grip of the chains. Escaping from this town is a Herculean task, as it is like passing through the eye of a needle. Only a very few have been able to escape successfully. Others who attempted using their own strength were captured and paid the ultimate price with their lives. Corpses of those killed were left in the open and it is not uncommon to find pieces of human bones and skeletons of those who attempted to escape in the open valley serving as caution to those who might want to attempt such a feat. Arogoto controls the minds of the people so it is rare for them to think of escaping from the gulag in which they have found themselves. Many had been brainwashed that the life they are living is the best they can ever have. Many had forever sealed their fate by completely selling their soul to Arogoto in exchange for power and fame. Such people are not difficult to recognize amongst the citizens, as they have completely different attire from the others. They are the 'go to' people and they enjoy special privileges that ordinary citizens do not. Regardless, they still have shackles around their ankles and are very unstable and volatile. Many of these people died early in life because of the covenant they made with Arogoto, and those who renege on this agreement are stripped of all they have acquired and made to die a shameless death. The enclave Valleytown derived its name because it was situated in the Valley with high crooked walls paved with sharp metals, making it difficult for anyone to climb or attempt an escape. Up above the wall is the command post where the Sapagis take turns watching over the town. There are two gates in the wall; there is a gigantic gate that is always left open and allows many people to walk into it daily but strangely, it does not allow people to exit. (Request for a copy for Amazon review.