The Path, The Price

by Sharon Mitchell

Prelude Morenike[i] knew that he was dying. A seer who was known to possess great juju[ii], came to him in his dreams. He told him, "Your days are numbered Morenike. You must teach everything you know to your son and daughter before it is too late."

Morenike being the man he was, confronted the seer and told him, "I am not ready to die, and I will not bow down to death's plan." He ignored the warnings, even when his wife Fayola[iii] came to him in tears. "Morenike, I too have been given caution by the seer, do you want your seeds to be left in ignorance; to not know your plans for their future?" Still Morenike let his stubbornness guide his actions.

As chief of the Oloruns[iv], Morenike refused to show weakness of any kind. He could ill afford it. His enemies the Shakpana[v] watched him like a hawk. They used their abilities to create malcontent and unhappiness throughout his tribe and have even used magick[vi] to attempt discovery of Morenike's greatest fear. They knew that that was the key to his defeat. But Morenike was taught by the elders to bury his fears; bury them so deeply that even the most powerful juju could not unearth it.

What Morenike feared most was fear itself. It was his greatest enemy. The idea that it even existed angered him. The possibility that he might lose a family member to some sort of calamity, that he would one day not be able to lead his people or that he may even die, enraged him. In his musings he realized that he was only a pawn. A powerful one, but a pawn nonetheless. His life's plan was laid out long before he was born. He was embittered, but he knew that it was only in vain.

Emotions exposed him to danger. For that reason, he kept everything inside. And though he knew it was a great weight to carry, he told no one how he felt, not even his wife. Revealing that side of himself to any member of his family could be disastrous for all. He possessed juju of his own, but it was not enough to protect them from what lies ahead.

Chapter I

A young girl turned in time to see her friend, swoon and fall to the ground in convulsions. "Run!!!" she yelled and sprinted, "The Shakpana is here! Save yourselves!" Yanked as if attached to an invisible chain, she too was attacked by the invisible force. Pandemonium ensued in the Olorun village as men, women and children tried to escape the inevitable.

The Shakpana moved through the village like ghosts. They were so swift, that one could not see them with the naked eye. You would only feel a gentle exhalation across your face and it was done. If you were perceptive, a slight shift in the air might alert you of their presence. When they released their toxins into the air, it caused absolute madness. With that power, the Shakpana had complete control of illusions and how one perceives them.

A young man gripped with terror, suddenly grabbed his head and hollered, "Get off! Get off!" He started pulling at his hair and scratching his face. He ran head on through the bushes and over a cliff. His wife and child could hear his blood-curdling screams as he fell to his death.

Suddenly, stillness permeated the village. A low chanting was heard. The words were ancient. Only an elder would know what they meant.

Morenike seemed to appear out of nowhere. Sealed to his chest was an amulet[vii] that glowed with an awesome light. His illuminating presence suggested omnipotence. Engulfing his body, the light increased in intensity and then time stopped.

"Shakpana! You will not cause anymore suffering this day!" bellowed Morenike. Frozen where they stood, they were no longer too swift to be seen. Adorned in the hideous facemasks of their tribe, the Shakpana were forced to face Morenike and their deaths.

As Morenike graced his eyes upon each Shakpana, this spell was spoken. "Born of Power. Born of Earth. Obatala[viii] give my wish birth[ix]. Remove this evil. Remove this threat. Give them what they have beget[x]!" There was a shimmer and then the air changed into the consistency of dry ice.

The Shakpana began to scream. They too scratched their faces and began to run around in abject horror. Some even viciously attacked one another by using the same power they used on the Olorun. "I'm burning! I'm burning!" exclaimed a member of the Shakpana as he slapped at his body. His sounds became guttural and his eyes glazed over in terror. Another grew maniacal in his ranting. He swore that insects were trying to burrow their way beneath his skin. When it was all over, the threat was but a memory.

Many tribesmen experienced similar deaths. Those, whose families were able to save them, were stuck in a permanent haze of dark and despair. They were tied down for their own safety. The healer was heard praying over the victims. She asked the gods for guidance, for she was not powerful enough to exercise the demons that plagued them.

Even though Morenike defeated the Shakpana that day, the victims were too weak to continue fighting for their lives. They soon passed onto the heavenly plane.

Chapter II

As the tribe tried to grasp at some semblance of order, Minkah[xi], Morenike's son, Nkechi[xii] his daughter and Fayola his wife slowly returned to the village. They were afraid to approach Morenike. They knew he was angry that more of their people were lost. For every Shakpana that dies, twenty take their place. This is why the battle has been going on for hundreds of years. No one has been able to defeat them. But Morenike knew he had to find a way or future generations would also be lost.

"Baba,[xiii] are you well?" asked Nkechi. "I am fine child. I asked you all to stay hidden until I came for you. You are more exposed to danger, because of your connection to me! You must understand that!" "We do understand that," said Fayola. "We can not help but worry. As powerful as you are, you are not invincible!"

"Minkah, Nkechi, go to the healer," said Morenike. "See what you can do to assist her. I need to speak with your abiyamo[xiv]." As his children walked away, Morenike turned on his wife. "Damn you woman! Must you be so stubborn?! Why do you continue to fight me on this?!" whispered Morenike. "The only person who is stubborn is you! You continue to fight the seer, to fight me!" whispered Fayola, as she moved them from prying eyes and ears. "Look at you! Every time you face the Shakpana, it takes so much from you! You can not continue to fight them alone!" said Fayola as she grabbed her husband by the shoulders and shook him. Morenike's hair was graying at the temples, causing him to look like a man twice his age. "Minkah and Nkechi are not children anymore. It is not in my nature to control your type of power, but it is in theirs. They can harness it and make it their own. Their connection to one another can make them even more powerful than you. You must give them a chance to prove themselves." Morenike stared at his wife; his silence was unbending.

"The choice has been taken from you, Morenike. If you don't want your children and our tribesmen to die from the breath of the Shakpana, you must teach Minkah and Nkechi! The threat must end with us!" Fayola angrily walked away.

Chapter III

Minkah knew that something was wrong with his father. But he was unsure if it was his place to ask. His abiyamo watched his Baba as if she would never see him again. Every battle, every hunt would leave her weary and fragile. Those traits were not normal for her.

Nkechi also noticed the difference. She tried comforting Fayola to no avail. Although Nkechi was worried, she did not want to further anguish Fayola with foolish questions.

"I've been having vivid, angry dreams Minkah. I keep seeing a set of burning red eyes, boldly staring at me, but not. They seem to be looking through me; searching for something or someone else. No matter where I turned, the eyes were always there. It's like continuously having the shivers, because your senses are warning you of danger. I feel in my heart that Baba is the reason why our abiyamo is acting so strangely. She has always been such a strong and expressive woman. I could go to her with any problem or thought I had. But now the tables have turned. She will not tell me what troubles her, yet she leans on me more and more each day." Said Nkechi

"Perhaps, it is time that we speak with Baba," said Minkah. "This is not the time to approach him with questions, Minkah." said Nkechi "The Shakpana have been attacking our people like a plague. Too many of us are dying."

"When will there be a 'right time' Nkechi?" asked Minkah. "The attacks are more frequent and with each defense, Baba's body weakens. It takes longer for him to recover and one day they are going to catch us unawares. And then what! Perhaps, if Baba teaches us the ancient way of the Olorun, we can unite and end this menace."

Nkechi thought about everything her brother said. "Alright brother, we shall speak with Baba tonight. I hope you are prepared for his wrath." She frowned as she continued to aid the healer.

Chapter IV

Morenike went to the seer's hut to announce his decision. "You have gotten your wish Jaja[xv]. I have decided to teach my children the ways of the Olorun. But be forewarned, their deaths will be upon your head!" said Morenike as he paced the seer's hut.

Sighing Jaja responded, "Morenike I understand your fear, but there is no other choice. You know that the Shakpana grow fiercer each day. Our victories have become a contradiction. The elders agree with your decision, and support you."

"Support me? Agree with me? I care not what the elders think, Jaja! Never have I seen any of them fighting the Shakpana, or helping with the victims!" yelled Morenike. "Shhhhhh, careful what you say, Morenike! You know that you are not above the gods, and the elders account to them."

"The Gods?" harrumphed Morenike. "We pray to them each day for their guidance, knowledge and PROTECTION, yet we are exposed to this enemy. Surely they see the horrors that we face. Will they do nothing to stop this?"

"You know it is not their way to interfere with human kind." said Jaja. "What about Amachi[xvi]?" Asked Morenike "She took a great chance when she warned our ancestors of danger." Shaking his head, Jaja responded, "That simple warning was not enough. Keep in mind, they had to defeat the enemy and discover what was within on their own. You must allow your children to do the same."

Morenike left the hut and resignedly returned to his home. His thoughts were heavy, for he had to find the strength to put his children in harms way.

Chapter V

"Baba we must speak with you!" Minkah and Nkechi rushed Morenike as he came through the door. "It is very important Baba. We would not come to you if it was not so." said Nkechi. "When have you known me to discuss anything before our meal? Come let us enjoy one another's company." He grasped their hands and led them to where Fayola sat.

"Minkah and Nkechi were in shock. They expected a more volatile reaction from him, but did not want to irritate him by disobeying. They sat on the ground in a circle, surrounding the food Fayola prepared. Even though Morenike was angry with the gods, he did not want to bring their wrath upon his family, so he said a simple prayer. "Praise, Olodummare.[xvii] Praise, Obatala. We give you thanks. Let your knowledge and understanding become one with us and guide us through the coming days. Bless us as we lift our voices on to you."

After enjoying a meal of fish, obe ata[xviii], iyan[xix], ewa[xx] and a side of palm wine[xxi] which was Morenike's favorite, he turned to his children and asked, "So what is so important that it could not wait until after our repast?" Morenike was amused, because he knew what his children wanted to discuss. But they were afraid to address it. He decided that he would not make it easy for them. What they would have to face in the coming future was enormous in comparison to this. So he crossed his arms and waited.

"Well Baba," said Minkah as he cleared his throat. "Nkechi and I have wanted to come to you for some time. We have noticed changes in not just you but our abiyamo as well." "We are concerned about your well-being." Nkechi added quickly. "And we have a solution. I know you'd like to think of us as children forever Baba, but that is no longer the case. We want to help you fight the Shakpana. We are tired of watching our people fall like impalas being slaughtered by a pride. It is time that you teach us the way of the ancients," whispered Minkah. "It is the only way..."

Morenike sat and listened as his children pled their case. His heart sped up as they expressed all the reasons why he should teach them the ways of the Olorun. His wife Fayola looked as if a great weight had been lifted from her shoulders. She knew that it would be an extreme undertaking, but couldn't help feeling happy about this partnership. He would no longer have to fight alone.

Minkah and Nkechi suddenly became quiet. Their father's silence was unnerving and they had no idea what was on his mind. He was never an easy person to read.

"Alright Minkah and Nkechi, I will do as you have asked. I will teach you our ways. Understand that once you begin, there is no turning back." He said stoically. "Oh Baba," said Nkechi "must you be so grave?" "Yes! You have no idea what you are getting into, but you will soon enough!" he said as he stormed out of the hut. Minkah and Nkechi looked at their mother with questions in their eyes. "Your Baba is scared for you both. Had the choice been his..." she paused, "This is not what he wants for you." said Fayola, as she looked at her husband's rigid back.

Chapter VI

Morenike knew that it was only a matter of time before the next attack. Even though he dealt a mighty blow to the Shakpana, their numbers were many. Their leader Kayin[xxii] was the key to their destruction.

The long awaited child of the high priest and priestess of the Shakpana; he was the sole heir of their tribe. Long before their deaths, they trained him in the ways that have killed so many of the Olorun.

It is said that he has a weakness, but no one has been fool enough or lucky enough to find out. Some believe that his pride and arrogance would lead to his downfall. His followers are extremely dedicated. They guard the mountain top village like sentinels. Animals sense the presence of evil there and will not cohabitate. The Shakpana are forced to exist on fish and the surrounding vegetation. No juju of any kind can be used to force compliance from the animal species.

"Baba, we are ready to begin," said Minkah. Morenike was startled out of his reverie. He turned to his son and daughter and was shocked. He was forced to really look at them. "They really aren't children anymore," he said to himself. "It seems that my quest to destroy the Shakpana has denied me the pleasures of watching my children grow." He felt an overwhelming feeling of love and sadness for them. They were about to be introduced to one of life's harsher realities.

"As you know, our tribe is named after the high god Olorun. He bestowed upon us an amulet of great power. It was given to our ancestors hundreds of years ago when they defeated their greatest enemy. Since then, each generation has passed it on to a chosen person.

Opening his palm, an image of the amulet materialized into view. It was oval shaped and the face of it was made of a clear precious stone that seemed to pulse as if alive. "The amulet exists in a different realm than our own. Beyond the reach of our enemies, the amulet only appears when it is needed. What you see is what my mind has conjured." Closing his hand the image disappeared.

"Curiously enough, twins have not been born to our tribe since your ancestors Akin and Kamau. Perhaps a dual power is needed once more. Your connection to one another will make the amulet stronger. As long as one of you has the amulet, your power will be as one." said Morenike.

"When your grandfather felt it was time to pass this treasure on to me, I did not want the responsibility. I knew that my life would no longer be my own." Taking a deep breath, he went on. "Until I take my last breath, the amulet will belong to me. What I do now, is teach you how to conjure it, how to use it, but most importantly how to manipulate it. It is a very powerful tool and if you are not careful it can manipulate you."

Taking them deep into the forest, he continued speaking. "When you are first exposed to its raw power, you feel exhilaration like no other. You want to conquer evil wherever it may tread. But once the deed is done and the amulet returns to its realm, you feel a depression like no other. The power it yields is as addictive as it is dangerous. The gods failed to tell us that with each use, it gradually absorbs a person's essence. This is why it takes longer for me to recuperate after each battle. As you are both young and strong, you have essence to spare." He said with a rare smile. "The amulet can not be penetrated and neither can the owner once he has it upon his skin. Once summoned, it becomes one with the possessor. Its protection is infinite and so is its spiritual connection to you." They came upon a grotto that was surrounded by all the foliage indigenous to that part of the island.

Chapter VII

Morenike led Minkah and Nkechi into the grotto. A large opening in the grotto's ceiling allowed natural light to spread through out. When they reached the back of it they were taken aback. In front of them was a book that hovered high above the ground. It spun around in a slow circular motion and on it was a picture of the amulet. When Minkah attempted to touch the book, his hand passed right through it. Nkechi laughed and was a little irked when the same thing happened to her.

"The book," said Morenike, "does not recognize you. It will only solidify for its owner. He then said "Give wishes birth." The book solidified before their eyes. He reached for the book, and signaled for his children to sit with him.

"As you know, in our culture there are a number of gods and goddesses besides the high god that we worship. The one who is most important to our cause is Obatala[xxiii]." Rubbing his hand across the face of the book, it opened. The pages were transparent and old from constant use. On the first page was a short synopsis on Obatala. King of the orisa, Obatala is the essence of purity, justice and free thinking. He represents the pure and calm way to transcendence.[xxiv] The wording was written in an ancient Olorun dialect, but looked as if it was just placed on the page. The book aged but the writings did not. "He represents peace, harmony, and most importantly wisdom. All of the things that we are suppose to represent as a people. Some of the things, I feel I have lost along the way. Everything that is white in our world belongs to him, including this stone. Obatala gives us purpose and keeps us centered."

"Though the amulet is not here, we can still taste its power." Said Morenike. Returning the book to its place, he led his children back to the entrance of the grotto. Walking ahead of them, he began to chant. "Born of Power. Born of Earth. Obatala give my wish birth. Give me your strength. Give me your power. Bestow this to me on this hour."

The power in Morenike tingled at his fingertips and spread like a storm. The light and heat that his body radiated was like that of a small sun. Though harmless, the light and heat were an expression of everything that was good and right. Things were drawn to him, wanting to become apart of his energy.

The animals in the jungle gathered close to the grotto and exclaimed, "Hail to Obatala, may peace and harmony rein!" As they backed away, the scene changed. The atmosphere became wintry. Minkah and Nkechi could see their breath. They could see the air flow around Morenike like the current of a lazy river. It encircled and caressed his body as if it was a lover. Blades of grass stiffened and leaves began to fall from trees. Yet Morenike and his children were unaffected.

Once again time stopped. Morenike turned to his children. He looked otherworldly. His body glowed and his eyes pulsed like the amulet they were shown. Minkah and Nkechi experienced a moment of fear. They stepped back and the voice they heard made them even more uncomfortable. "I am still your father, though my appearance is different. I show you proof of the power of Obatala and the amulet." They knew this person to be their father, but he was now something much more.

His presence was overwhelming; he was bigger than anything they could have imagined. "Remember there is no turning back from this. This is a lifetime commitment. Obatala will forever be connected to you and you to him. Through me I want you to feel what I feel, to know what I know. To understand why it is so easy to become dependant on this great power!" said Morenike. "Take my hand and you will know all!" Said Morenike.

Looking at one another, his children took his hands. Closing their eyes, they were pummeled with images of their father as a young man and their grandfather showing Morenike the amulet and its power. They were shown their ancestors and the battles they won using the amulet. They were shown the relentless defeat of their enemies with the use of the amulet. They were exposed to the high their father experienced each time he used the amulet and the depression he experience when it went back. They could feel the loss of his essence and the weakness that overtook his body after each battle.

But most importantly, they discovered that their father was not as brave as believed. They were moved by the love he has for them and the hope that they would succeed where he has not. So when they broke their link with their father, they were left with an enormous amount of knowledge and a new sense of duty. "Obatala has left us with a clearer insight." said Minkah "One knows not the seriousness of our situation until, they see it through your eyes." Said Nkechi

Chapter VIII

Morenike, back to his normal self, was worried. When you transfer that amount of knowledge to a person in such a short period of time, it tends to age them. Not just in body but in ka[xxv] as well. Though Minkah and Nkechi felt like they've been entranced for days, it all happened in a matter of hours. He hoped that the forced maturity would help them face, the discord that was forever at the forefront of his mind.

"Time truly is of the essence young ones. When the Shakpana strike, you both will be ready to take my place if need be." When Minkah and Nkechi reached their home, Fayola was happy to see them but frightened by the change. Looking at them, she could see that they were already sharing some of the weight that Morenike carried alone for so many years.

Drawing them close to her, Fayola said, "It has been a hard day for you my children, go in and rest your weary bodies." Minkah and Nkechi kissed their abiyamo and went inside, with a lot on their minds. She turned to her husband and asked, "So it is done?" "Yes." said Morenike. "They now know everything I know, but they are still inexperienced. I had not the heart to tell them, what it would be like to take a life. Whether it be for good or bad reasons, eliminating a life is just as hard as the loss of one's essence. You can never get it back."

At the summit of the Shakpana stronghold...

"Kayin! We must speak!" said seer Fela[xxvi] "There has been a drastic shift in power, one that we must address!" Looking out at the deceiving shadows of the night, Kayin pondered his next move. "I have not done right by my father Fela." Said Kayin "Even with all this power at my disposal, my adversaries continue to thwart my every attempt at their destruction. Morenike diligently guards against the ruin of his tribe. Once he and his kind are disposed of, I will be free to concentrate on more appetizing endeavors."

Impatiently Fela barked, "That is what we must discuss! Your life is in danger Kayin." "Please Fela, my life is always in danger." Kayin tiredly responded, as he ran his hands over his face. "That is the lot of my life. I cannot fight for what I want without there being consequences. Evil carries a heavy price Fela."

"Just because your path is a dark one, doesn't mean you have to walk it without illumination. My premonitions are exactly that, premonitions. Your future can be changed. It is in your power to do so." said Fela. Taking a deep breath, Kayin sat down. "Alright Fela, tell me, what did you see?"

"Each time Morenike uses the amulet, he gets weaker and weaker. He is no longer the man he was and has bestowed upon his children the knowledge of the Olorun. That also includes control of the amulet, upon his death. Minkah and Nkechi are far more powerful than their father. Their power doubles, due to their fraternal connection."

"Your fight has always been with just Morenike. Though we've wounded the Olorun on numerous occasions, Morenike has always walked away the victor. He is very powerful even in his weakened state. What will you do against three?"

Frustrated Kayin jumped up. "I know all of this Fela! Please," he said sarcastically, "Tell me what you saw!" Walking towards him, Fela answered, "Minkah and Nkechi find a way to destroy you. I was not allowed to see how. You faced them in a battle. I heard you scream; I saw blood and then silence. The gods obviously want you to learn the 'how' on your own. This time Kayin, I will be of no help to you."

"We will attack the Olorun tonight and end this once and for all." Said Kayin. Kayin walked out into the night. Within a blink of an eye, all his tribesmen surrounded him. "Shakpana!" he yelled. "Tonight we face out final battle! Tonight we eradicate the threat and take what belongs to us. Tonight we annihilate everything in our path; no survivors are to be left to tell the tale." Then in a mantra known to them all, he closed his eyes and cried, "Praise, Shakpana hear my call. We need your power. We need your all. To destroy our enemies, to make them fall. We need your power, we need your all!"

The ground beneath them trembled. It was as if a herd of elephants were heading for their very spot. Parting the grass in its determination to reach its quarry, the surrounding haze came to life and attacked the Shakpana. Amid hideous screams the haze squeezed painfully into every possible pore on their bodies, saturating their very ka. Soon they were one with the god Shakpana, and moved as one. Roaring like a great beast the Shakpana descended upon the Olorun village.

Chapter IX

Wearing the white ceremonial garb representative of Obatala, Morenike, Minkah and Nkechi awaited the Shakpana's onslaught. Already in the middle of the village, the Shakpana appeared to them like smoke. Morenike knew the final battle was upon them and did not want any more tribesmen to die in the crossfire. As soon as he returned from the grotto, he arranged an immediate evacuation of the village. Including his wife. "No Morenike! You can not expect me to flee and leave my family behind!" said Fayola frantically. "Fayola," whispered Morenike as he held her hands and looked deep into her eyes. "You knew this day would come. You must be the one to lead the Olorun deep into the jungle and away from harm. Do you remember that sacred place? The grotto near the lake? Remember the peace and majesty that enfolded you every time we went there? That is a place of magick. You all will be safe and protected there. One of us will come for you." Said Morenike Thinking of his wife now; he prayed that he would see her lovely face once more.

Minkah and Nkechi were terrified. Though protected by the power of the amulet, they were not connected to it and therefore still exposed to danger. The physical shield that surrounded them pulsed with power. The Shakpana came down upon them like a plague, determined to wipe out everything in one fell swoop. Shrieking when they discovered that there was no prey to be had, the Shakpana screamed, "Where are they?" They circled Morenike and his children in a rapid, continuous array of dirty shadows. "We will find them Morenike, it is only a matter of time. And then a new era will begin. None of you will be alive to continue your reign. You can't possibly fight us and protect them at the same time. You will give!" hollered the Shakpana.

Upon breathing out, the Shakpana caused the shield to shake as if the wind of a tornado had struck it. As bright as the amulet shined, it was weaker because it no longer protected just one person. Morenike knew that he was not prepared to fight them all. He decided to do the unprecedented. "Minkah, Nkechi take my hand! Although I am still of this living plane, you can connect with me and increase my strength." Linking hands the shield multiplied in size and crumbled the Shakpana's dark circle. Enraged, the Shakpana attacked again.

Morenike watched in horror as the breath of the Shakpana, developed into a mighty fist. The first pound on the shield shook them to the core. He found himself on the ground with hair that had turned pure ivory. Never had he felt such unbridled evil. The antipathy that each member of the Shakpana carried for the Olorun, increased their force ten fold. His children continued to stand strong, but his essence had just about run out. He did not want to alarm them. But Minkah and Nkechi were no fools.

Struggling to his feet, Morenike began to chant and his children followed.

"Give us your clarity, give us your might. Give us the energy to end this fight. Born of Power. Born of Earth. Obatala give our wish birth." With each pound of the Shakpana's fist, their shield grew weaker until it shattered. And then there was silence.

As soon as he was exposed to the air, Morenike started to shake. Having lost all of his essence, he was no longer a threat to the Shakpana. Kayin separated himself from the brood, to watch in gleeful anticipation as Morenike faced his death. Shuttering as if palsied, the Shakpana's breath rushed into Morenike's body and destroyed every positive thought and feeling on contact. Bleeding from his mouth, Morenike fell to the ground once more, closed his eyes and slipped from the living world. He died believing that one of his greatest fears might actually come true, the death of a loved one by the hand of evil. His body disappeared, just as the amulet would whenever its purpose was met.

Though Minkah and Nkechi were beyond grief, they could not put their guard down for one second. The amulet moved on to Minkah, its new owner, for it was still needed. Holding hands, they began saying the chant once again.

"Give us your clarity, give us your might. Give us the energy to end this fight. Born of Power. Born of Earth. Obatala give our wish birth." They moved towards the Shakpana as if in a trance. Minkah and Nkechi were renewed by Obatala's power and their father's love for he was with them in ka. "We will exact justice for our father's demise, it was not in vain." said Minkah.

The Shakpana came together like a horde and transformed into a powerful beast made of murky shadows and the stench of wickedness. Its eyes burned red with hatred. It roared in victory because it believed that Minkah and Nkechi posed no threat.

Then Minkah and Nkechi's motions became swift and sure. The creature rushed them. They rose into the sky and spun just as their ancestors did hundreds of years ago. The power within their bodies fought to be released. They could hear their father calling to them, "Fight my children, I am no longer important! It is not only your life you must save, but the existence of all those who are Olorun!"

The air entwined with them and they evolved into a living, breathing cyclone. Sucking the beast inside, they coldly began to crush each and every Shakpana. Making sure they suffered as all their victims suffered. The Shakpana's ability to multiply was no longer possible. When they finally reached the core of the beast, which was Kayin, he was petrified.

Although the cyclone continued to circle him, Minkah, Nkechi, and their ancestors past, appeared to him within the eye. "Have you nothing to say for all the horrors you have wrought upon our people?" asked Nkechi. "Perhaps, if you repent, the gods will have mercy upon you in death." said Minkah. "Kill me! This is not over!" bellowed Kayin. "There will be others like me, my ka will continue to reincarnate into humankind until your kind no longer exist!" He yelled in hysteria. "As you wish..." they said together and proceeded to painfully remove the very air and ka that gave him life. Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust[xxvii], Kayin's shell returned to its origins.

Shaken by all the violence and death, a feeling of understanding and clarity overcame them. "It was a necessary means to an end," said a voice.

Realizing that their continuous spinning was uprooting their home, Minkah and Nkechi gradually slowed down until they found themselves at the entrance of the grotto.

Finally allowing themselves to relax, they both fell into their mother's arms and wept with her. Fayola knew the moment that her husband left the living plane. The combination of the grief from their father's death and the depression from the lack of juju, caused them to shake uncontrollably. "Minkah, I don't think I have the strength to endure this kind of suffering!" Holding her tight, they watched as their tribe mourned the loss of their great leader.

"O ku[xxviii]! O ku!" the tribe members exclaimed. Although there was no body to lay to rest, they still prayed that Morenike's ka was with their ancestors in the heavenly plane.

"How will we go on, Nkechi?" asked Minkah "You will go on because you have to." said an elder of the tribe. He slowly walked out of the jungle, leaning heavily on his staff. "Your father believed that by handing down the amulet to you, you would be able to do what he could not. And therefore, give our people a chance for survival and the peace we have desired for so long. Now that the threat has been nullified, you must lead our people."

"Lead them with love, kindness, compassion and a strong hand." said a voice from behind the old man. Everyone gasped when Morenike stepped into view. He was with out ivory hair and he looked content and vital. He wore a majestic black and white robe representative of the god Legba[xxix]. "Yes children." said the elder, upon hearing their thoughts. "I am Legba. What you see is just an outer shell."

"I have always been with you, in one way or another. But do not be deceived; though it is not our practice to interfere, we (the orishas[xxx] and I) are always aware of what goes on in the human world. I remember hearing your father ask why we do not step in when our influence is needed. But we have discovered that human kind cannot evolve and develop into the strong, independent people they are without dealing with life's daily challenges on their own. I believe it is said, 'Laa mang goetok goeman muan wu soeng'[xxxi]. Our interfering will just delay Olodummare's plan for you all."

Morenike stretched out his hands to his wife and children. "Please do not weep. Where I go, tears are only for joy not for sadness." He said as he dried their eyes. "You have always been my rock and foundation, Fayola. I need you to continue being that for our children. They will need all the courage, strength and love you have given me through the years."

"Minkah, Nkechi, there are no words I can use to express how proud I am of you. Your mother will need you, as you will need her. I know you are fearful of what lies ahead, but be of brave hearts and know that it will no longer include the shadow of any enemy. Apendaye asali huumwa na nyuki[xxxii] my children."

To his people, Morenike said, "Bitir mizsham o'nya gida.[xxxiii] Do not let what has happened set you back. Continue to flourish and make the name Olorun one of esteem and greatness."

"Giving them all one last look of affection and caring, Morenike backed up to stand next to Legba. "Your father's path was predestined long before he was born." said Legba. "Whenever you think of him be happy and know that the keys I carried for his entrance into the heavenly plane are freely given to him. He has earned his place next to your ancestors."

As the first streams of the morning sun traveled across the sky, Morenike and Legba journeyed with it leaving the Olorun and Morenike's family with a sense of peace, harmony and perseverance to last their days.

Finite.

*****************************

[i] Morenike means good luck (Nigeria) www.swagga.com

[ii] Juju - West African word for magic. http://zer0dmx.tripod.com/info/dictionary.html

[iii] Fayola means luck walks with honor (Yoruba of Nigeria) www.swagga.com

[iv] Olorun - Yoruba deity, high god, bestows blessings and confers thanks when invoked http://www.uiowa.edu/~africart/toc/people/Yoruba.html

[v] Shakpana - Angry god of the Yoruba, who inflicts man with pox and madness. http://www.africanenza.com/africangod.html

[vi] Magick - Ceremonial or ritual magic; high magick. http://zer0dmx.tripod.com/info/dictionary.html

[vii] Amulet - Something that is worn for protection, usually jewelry http://zer0dmx.tripod.com/info/dictionary.html

[viii] Obatala orisha of peace, harmony and purity; father of most orishas and creator of humankind; represents clarity, justice and wisdom. www.afrikaworld.net/afrel/sevenorishas.htm

[ix] Give Wishes Birth term apart of a protection spell http://www.geocities.com/cowa_web/shell.html

[x] Beget to be the cause of something www.encarta.com

[xi] Minkah (men-kaa) means justice (Tanzania) www.swagga.com

[xii] Nkechi (n-kay-kee) means loyal (Ibo of Nigeria) www.swagga.com

[xiii] Baba means father or elder (Yoruba) www.swagga.com

[xiv] Abiyamo - in Yoruba language, term for mother http://www.jendajournal.com/jenda/issue4/oyewumi.html

[xv] Jaja means God's gift (Ibo of Nigeria) www.swagga.com

[xvi] Amachi - (Ah-mah-chi) Who knows what God has brought us through this child (Ibo of Nigeria) See "Amachi's Hope. www.swagga.com

[xvii] Oloddumare - Yoruba deity represents the creator of all http://www.fa.indiana.edu/~conner/yoruba/cut.html

[xviii] obe ata (pepper soup) - thick sauce made by boiling ground tomatoes, ground pepper, meat or fish, meat broth or fish broth, onions, vegetable oil or palm oil, and other spices. http://www.motherlandnigeria.com/food.html#soup

[xix] iyan (pounded yam) - yams peeled, and ground up on a mortar. Then this 'powder' is placed into boiling water until it has a thick smooth structure http://www.motherlandnigeria.com/food.html#soup

[xx] ewa beans are cooked with ground tomatoes, ground peppers, and spices. Sometimes cooked in combination with maize, or rice, with or without soup. http://www.motherlandnigeria.com/food.html#soup

[xxi] palm wine - a drink made from the juices of palm trees http://www.motherlandnigeria.com/food.html#soup

[xxii] Kayin long awaited child (Yoruba of Nigeria) www.swagga.com

[xxiv] "King of the orisa, Obatala is the essence of purity, justice and free thinking. He represents the pure and calm way to transcendence" Description from "The Way of the Orisha; Empowering Your Life Through the Ancient African religion of Ifa" by Philip John Neimark. Page 95

[xxv] Ka Yoruba word for soul or spirit. The Religion of the Yorubas, Appendix I, Pg. 378, J. Olumide Lucas

[xxvi] Fela means warlike (West African) www.swagga.com

[xxvii] Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust Ref. Genesis 3, Verse 19 (Holy Bible, King James Version) http://aol.bartleby.com/108/01/3.html#19

[xxviii] O ku may you be a Khu, i.e. luminous spirit after death The Religion of the Yorubas, Ch. XII, Pg. 223, Death and Burial Customs, J. Olumide Lucas

[xxix] Legba - He is a Yoruba god of destiny. The first to be invoked since he holds the key to the gate separating the realms of the gods from those of man. He appears as a poorly dressed old man but is very strong. He is known for his intelligence, cunning and knowledge of all the languages of man. He is a trickster. http://www.africanenza.com/africangod.html http://www.open-sesame.com/Legba.html

[xxx] Orishas - Yoruba deities are known as orisha, and the high god is Olorun http://www.uiowa.edu/~africart/toc/people/Yoruba.html

[xxxi] Laa mang goetok goeman muan wu soeng - A child who is carried on the back will not know how far the journey is. (Spoon-feeding does not help the child to be independent and capable of doing things on his or her own.) http://www.afriprov.org/resources/dailyproverbs.htm

[xxxii] Apendaye asali huumwa na nyuki - Great achievement is attained through painful experiences. http://www.afriprov.org/resources/dailyproverbs.htm

[xxxiii] Bitir mizsham o'nya gida - Steadiness and patience can result in great success http://www.afriprov.org/resources/dailyproverbs.htm


The Path, The Price by Sharon Mitchell

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