Umuaro decides to go to war against Okperi, but it is divided.
Ezeulu reminds the village that the foundation of their six villages – Umuachala, Umunneora, Umuagu, Umuezeani, Umuogwugwu, and Umuisiuzo – each lived separately, vulnerable to Abame's slave raids. So the people hired a team of powerful medicine men to establish a god that ruled over all of them. This is when they took the name Umuaro. The priest of Ulu became the priest of their common deity.
And now they are going to war, against the advice of the priest of Ulu.
Ezeulu reminds them that the land belonged to Okperi when they came together, and that Okperi also gave them the deities Udo and Ogwugwu. He wants no part in fighting the men whose ancestors originally gave their ancestors land.
Nwaka stirs the men up with his war cry. He claims that his father tells a different story about the founding of Umuaro, one in which the men of Umuaro were wanderers, and were driven away from their land by Umuofia, then Abame and Aninta.
If they do not fight today, Nwaka warns, it is because they have married the daughters of Okperi and their men marry the daughters of Umuaro and so they have lost heart for war.
The men roar, and it is clear that Ezeulu has lost the speech, especially since his mother is from Okperi.
Different men get up to speak. One man, Akukalia, is fiery in his support for war. The oldest man from Akukalia's village gets up to speak and says, "Okay, we're sending you, Akukalia, but let me remind you that you are going to offer Okperi the choice of peace or war. We are not going to make war, but we will do what they decide."
Ezeulu rises to his feet, angry. He says that the people who have spoken are afraid to be cowards or they are hungry for war. He claims that if the land is truly theirs, Ulu will fight on their side. But in truth, they are sending somebody as an emissary who will start a war.
Akukalia and two others set of for Okperi the next morning. As they walked, they passed women coming to the famous Okperi market.
Akukalia, whose mother is from Okperi, explained that the great market was a result of great medicine. His mother's people created a deity who allowed their market to flourish, even though there were other markets nearby.
One of Akukalia's friends says that they say the same story about the Nkwo market, which attracts even the white men and their merchandise.
Finally, the men reached the farmland that was the issue at hand. It was fallow and hadn't been used for years. Akukalia says he can remember coming to this land with his father when he was just a child; he's surprised that his mother's people are now claiming it.
One of his companion claims that it is the white man's fault. The white man had told them not to fight and now that the white man is not around, the weaker one rises up to bully the other.
The third man with them, who hasn't said much until now, says that Akukalia should ask why Okperi let Umuaro farm the land and cultivate it for years if it really belonged to the Okperi.
Akukalia claims it isn't their job to ask questions, but simply to ask them if they want war or peace. And, he reminds them to hold their tongues. He claims that he understands the Okperi since his mother is Okperi; he believes that they are a people who say one thing and mean another.
The three men finally reach Okperi around breakfast time. They go to one of Akukalia's relative's compounds, that belonging to Uduezue. They are not smiling, but Uduezue asks them how their people are.
Akukalia replies they are well, but he has an urgent mission and must see the rulers of Okperi at once.
Uduezue says he wondered why they were here so early, and if his sister, Akukalia's mother, had still been alive, he would have wondered if something had happened to her. He offers them a kolanut.
Akukalia says that they can't think of anything else until they have taken care of their mission.
Uduezue says that's fine, but then why don't they draw a white line of chalk on the floor? Akukalia refuses to do even that.
So Uduezue leads the men towards the man who will receive their message. On the way, Akukalia feels very tender towards the village of his mother, and thinks fondly of his mother, who had always been harsh with him.
They reach Otikpo, Okperi's town crier. He and Uduezue whisper together, then Otikpo offers the men a kolanut.
Akukalia refuses and says they can't eat or drink until they have come to relay their message.
Otikpo asks if he can hear their message or whether it needs the town elders.
Akukalia says it needs the elders.
Otikpo says they have come at a bad time. Like all the villages around here, the elders are not accessible on the market day.
Akukalia says he knows this but the mission can't wait.
Otikpo suggests that they should sleep in Okperi and see the elders in the morning.
Ebo enters and Akukalia refuses to shake his hand. He also says that it is not possible to see the elders on market day.
Akukalia says, again, that his message can't wait.
Ebo says that unless his message is that the earth is coming to an end, they can't hear the message today. Ebo has never heard of a message that could not wait for market day to end.
Akukalia asks if war came to their town suddenly, would they still wait for market to call the men together?
Ebo and Otikpo start to laugh. Akukalia and his companions exchange glances.
The conversation breaks down into yelling, and Ebo tells Akukalia that if he wants to shout like a "castrated bull," he'll need to wait until he gets back to Umuaro.
(This was the wrong thing to say to a man who is impotent and whose wives were secretly given to other men so they could bear children.)
Akukalia attacks Ebo and busts open his head. Ebo leaves for his house to get a machete.
Akukalia follows Ebo, rushes into his hut, takes his ikenga from the shrine, and splits it in two.
The crowd calls to Otikpo to leave him alone. Ebo is shocked and horrified at the desecration of his shrine, and Akukalia challenges his manhood, daring him to do something.
Ebo looks at his shrine and begins to weep, calling on his dead father to help him. Then he rushes into his hut and grabs a gun. Akukalia sees the danger to himself and runs forward. But it's too late; Ebo shoots Akukalia and he dies.
Everyone in Umuaro is shocked when the body is brought home. An emissary had never been killed before. But then they realized that he had done an unforgivable thing. Who could bear a sacrilege like the kind he had inflicted on Ebo?
This might have ended the affair but they were worried that Okperi had not sent a message to them about what happened. Everyone agreed that Ebo had to do what he did, but when a man was killed, somebody had to say something.
If Okperi chose not to say anything, they were showing great contempt for Umuaro. And Umuaro had to do something about it.
On the fifth day after Akukalia's death, the men assemble in the village. Many of them think they should just let the matter drop. Others say their pride cannot take it. They must do something.
Ezeulu was the last to speak. He reminds them of what he advised when they met before, that the adults should not send Akukalia, a mere child, to do this errand. So now he speaks to all the adults who should have known better. He tells the story of a great wrestler who went from village to village, beating all the other wrestlers. Then he wrestles spirits, and he beats them too. He challenges the spirits to bring their best and strongest, and they sent him his personal god, his chi, who smashed him to the ground.
No matter how great you are, he reminds the men of Umuaro, you should never challenge your own chi. That is what Akukalia did. Today, he says, we are doing the same thing when they talk of taking war to Okperi. Will Ulu fight in blame? he asks.
Ezeulu warns his people that if they go to war to avenge the death of a man who challenged his chi and rightly died, they will all suffer the consequences.
At the end of the meeting, Umuaro is still confused. Some want to go to war, others do not. Those who want to go to war have a meeting with Nwaka, a meeting that did not include Ezeulu or anybody from his village.
Nwaka tells the men that they do not need the permission of the Chief Priest of Ulu to go to war. He is not the king. He is only there to do the ritual required of the god.
Then Nwaka begins to attack Ezeulu's character, saying he wants power, to be king, priest, diviner, everything. Ulu's priest can't control what they do because he is not king.
So they go to war. Umuaro kills two men from Okperi on the first day. Then Umuaro kills four men and Okperi kills three.
Then the white man, Wintabota, marches in with his soldiers and stops the war. The men are afraid of these white soldiers, having heard the story of what they did to Abame.
So the war is ends. The white man gathers all the guns and breaks them all, except a few that he takes with him. Then he gives the disputed land to Okperi.