Alade, Chapter 24: Ile=Ife

24

 Ile-Ife

          Balance is a state of equilibrium or an action that brings about said state of equilibrium.  When things are in balance there can be said to exist a harmony between all the many parts of a whole and by weighing the many different factors, qualities, quantities and possibilities against each other and using the power of influence that those who would influence or control this balance must have, equilibrium can easily be maintained with the bare minimum of diligence.  Or at least that is what the Omo Orisa had thought.  The mandate given to them by the Orishas to maintain the balance was one they took very seriously for in truth it was the reason for their existence, having been created for this very purpose.  But in creating this race and binding them so tightly to themselves, the Gods had inadvertently erred for in doing so the reciprocity that allowed them to grow in strength and power also caused them to take on some on the less admirable traits of their Gods.  In short, the Omo Orisa, much like the Orishas themselves had become complacent, lazy and indolent and in doing so had been less than diligent in their task, and now, because of their negligence the balance of the Cosmos was no longer in equilibrium.  As a result, greater powers had moved to step in to prevent the destruction of the balance and to restore it to health, but in doing so many changes had been put in effect and what was previously known and familiar was quickly fading away as a new order seemed to rise to challenge and change the old and familiar ways.  In Ile-Ife, a land constructed of both physical substance and of the dreams of both Gods and mortals, the changes were already becoming evident as its borders had begun to weaken and humans had begun to accidentally stumble into their home.  Whole portions of the land had been transformed in seconds from lush forest to dry deserts while snow covered mountain peaks now boasted a canopy of rain forest so dense that on the ground no sun shone through.  But the physical changes to land were not the main concern, for this was a magical race of beings more chaotic in nature than structured, just as is the nature of magic, so these changes were taken in stride.  It was the sudden presence of powerful forces that had not previously existed, forcing their presence upon the cosmos and causing the balance to shift uncontrollably.  Things were happening on Earth, things unforeseen, and though they had shirked their duties as of late, the Omo Orisa were still the guardians of the balance and they knew that they had a job to do.  It was for this reason that Inioluwa, the high priest of Yemoja called together all the clan heads and high priests and priestesses in conclave, for with the exception of a few of the Orishas, the Gods had grown weak and the reciprocity that empowered ase and gave the Omo Orisa the power to be maintain the balance was beginning to fail and if it should altogether cease then who would maintain the balance?  They needed a solution, but first they needed answers, so it was decided that these leaders would meet in conclave to decide for better or worse what road they would take to ensure the continued equilibrium of the cosmos.

        The Omo Orisa, despite what they would like to believe, had been created from the most pious men and women tens of thousands of years ago and they were differed from humanity as water is to ice.  I use this metaphor because even though water and ice are in two different physical states and as a result have very different physical and chemical properties, but in the end, they both contain one oxygen molecule and two hydrogen molecules.  In short, water is water whether gaseous, liquid or solid and at their core the Omo Orisa still possessed the same chemical foundation as the rest of humanity.  Because of this, their society was just as structured and stratified as human society was.  Ile-Ife was broken down into territories controlled by different clans and the different clans were controlled by different families within a clan, who in turn drew their strength from the power of the Orishas who they served to rule.  The families and clans who diligently served Osonyin, Orisha of Green Things, for example, had nowhere near as much influence as perhaps those serving Obatala, Orisha of Justice and Reason.  One would have thought that these supposedly enlightened beings would have understood the part that every piece of creation plays in maintaining the equilibrium in the cosmos, but instead of enlightenment the Omo Orisa had succumbed to the dreams of power and had lost their way.  Almost all of them had succumbed to this except for an exceptional few such Inioluwa, babalawo of Yemoja.  Inioluwa had served Yemoja faithfully for more than thirty thousand years and his faith in his true purpose, in their true purpose had never wavered.  It was this unshakable and unwavering faith that made him so formidable and it was this potent fire within him that kept Yemoja strong.  His faith fed her and she in turn fed him, so that despite the silence and weakness of many of the other Gods, Inioluwa and his Goddess remained strong and for this reason when he chose to call a conclave all of the many clan heads, high priests and high priestesses and family heads sat up and listened.  For on the rare occasions that Inioluwa spoke, it was wise to listen, for he never spoke without good reason.

         The heads of the thirteen clans of the Omo Orisa arrived at the conclave looking tired, disheveled and anxious.  Every priest and priestess of the various Orishas was desperately searching for answers as to untenable situation developing on Earth, a situation which seemed to be directly tied to the Great Silence which had overtaken their grand discourse with the Gods.  The balance in the cosmos had suddenly shifted and the beacon of order which was the Earth had been pushed further in the direction of Chaos.  They needed some answers.  As the steady hum of reciprocity between themselves and their respective Gods began to slowly diminish, the strength of their ase had grown weak, jeopardizing their ability to fulfill their mandate as the guardians of the balance.  It was not because Chaos was now ascendant; no, this was the nature of equilibrium.  But this was not the Chaos of entropy, the very stuff of the cosmos which was part and parcel of creation; this was a completely different force, one which was not in equilibrium with the rest of creation.  If the balance was not soon restored there risked the possibility of the complete dissolution of all things as creation would tear itself apart because of the conflicting forces which would not be in equilibrium with each other.  It was their duty to find a solution and if they could not find a solution, then at least a compromise.  Equilibrium must be restored to the cosmos at no matter what cost.  If only they could understand that there was much more at stake than they could perceive, and things were moving in this directly as a part of a greater plan.  Inioluwa looked across the length and breadth of the conclave and unlike his brothers and sisters he understood what needed to be done.  As the most powerful Omo Orisa took their places at the conclave, Inioluwa, high priest of Yemoja and head of the Akeju clan exercised his prerogative as the one who had called together the conclave, stood up, called the conclave to order, facing his siblings and spoke.  “My brothers and sisters,” he said in a quiet voice, “there is a war in Heaven, a war which we have ignored in the performance of our duties as the guardians of the balance.  We cannot ignore it any longer.  If we are to continue our duties, then it is time that we picked a side.  Omo Orisa, it is past time that we discovered answers, it is past time that we see for ourselves what exact events on Earth have so skewed the balance.  Whatever it is that has been born on Earth is a threat to the balance and to all of creation.  Our duty is to protect the balance and to do that we will need more information.  I propose that we send agents to Earth to discover the cause, and I ask that you my brothers and sisters consider my request carefully because we are running out of time.  To succeed at this task, we will need to work together and more importantly we will need to pool our power, for this is not just a question of scrying the Earth.  We must send agents there to be our eyes and ears and if the time comes to be our sword.  Nothing must stand in our way as we restore the balance to its former equilibrium.”  Inioluwa stopped speaking and stood quietly watching the conclave and as he stood there, Teju high priestess of Oya, and head of the Balogun clan, also stood up and faced Inioluwa.  “You are right high priest of Yemoja,” she began, “but do our other siblings understand the crisis that we are presently in?”  She swung her gaze about the conclave, pointing her hand derisively.  “These fools are more concerned with their petty power games than in fulfilling our mandate. They have become lazy and indolent; one might say they mirror their masters!  Even you cannot persuade them to give up the power necessary to accomplish this.  They do not know you like I do, my brother.  What you are asking will require a sacrifice that few are willing to give.”  She finished she is speaking and sat, but before she was completed seated she said “When the time comes you may count on me.  As high priestess of Oya my mastery of energy manipulation is unsurpassed by any other here and you will need my strength and skills.  They are yours to use.”  She bowed to Inioluwa from her seat and he nodded in return.  There was a low murmuring in the conclave now as many of the clan heads bristled at the words of Teju, while others struggled to come to grips with the fact that they were in a dire situation and thus all petty power games and jealousy must be put aside for their grand purpose.  But not all could see the beyond their own childish concerns.  Tunji, the high priest of Obatala and head of the Abebi clan had been in quiet conference with Kole, high priest of Ogun and head of the Olumide clan and when he stood it was the confidence of one who thinks he has all the answers.  “Inioluwa, I respect you, we all do.  Your faith and dedication to our mandate and to the Orishas are legendary.  If you believe that are events on Earth that need be investigated then so be it, none of us can deny that your powers are formidable.  But what is it you would have us do?  You know that no Omo Orisa may leave Ile-Ife and in this time of darkness, why should we?  Our place is here where we have stood fulfilling our duty for tens of thousands of years. To leave this place would jeopardize the very thing we are entrusted to maintain.  Sometimes the Gods leave us for their own purposes, so their silence is nothing new.  But reason dictates that we remain here and search for answers and not go gallivanting off to Earth on frivolous missions.  Inioluwa my brother, you must find your answers here.”  Inioluwa stood up angrily, about to retort, when Kole cut quickly cut him of saying, “The truth be told Inioluwa, you already know the situation on Earth already, don’t you?  A little bird informed me that you know exactly what is going on.” At these words, the conclave erupted in conversation with the priests and priestesses demanding to know what Kole meant by his statement.  But he had already sat down having achieved his goal, and looked over at Tunji and smiled.  Tade, priest of Ososi and head of the Ademola clan spoke up first, shouting to be heard above the fray.  “Inioluwa, what does Kole mean?  What are you not telling us?”

“Yes,” said Folusha, priestess of Olukun and head of the Ikeja clan, “what does he mean?”

“Please,” said Inioluwa, “let us not be distracted from our duty.  We must do what is necessary to protect the balance.”

“And what exactly do you mean to do?” said Ronke priestess of Oko and head of the Apapa clan.

“Very little because he is trying to protect his son Alade.  He is the cause of all of this turmoil.”  All eyes turned to Abodurin, priest of Ori and head of the Adu clan.

 “My sight has shown me the truth of it; it was the presence of his desire here and now to fix this problem that has opened my vision to the truth.  Yemoja and Inioluwa put into motion the events which threaten the cosmos now.  Nevertheless, he speaks the truth; we must send agents to Earth, but not to investigate these events but instead to destroy the abomination that his son Alade has become.”  Everyone was silent as the truth of Bodurin’s words sunk in.  As the servant of Prophecy, a priest of Ori could not lie, though he or she could bend the truth.  Inioluwa knew that Ori was bound to Orunmila through Prophecy and as Orunmila’s status as Witness of Fate and it was in that moment that he realized that there was one clan, one almost as powerful as his own, that was not present.  The clan Bankola was not represented here and Laiye high priest of Orunmila was not absent.  Inioluwa looked at Abodurin and then he understood; the Gods themselves were making moves and Orunmila had just made his.  There would be no saving his son in this conclave, and as he watched the others talk among themselves he snatched at one last desperate straw, the last effort of a father trying to save his son.  When he came out of his reverie he saw that Teju stood beside him with her hand on his shoulder.  And as he stood up to face the others he waited as the high priest of Obatala spoke.  “Inioluwa, we understand your plight, but you above understand that duty and faith come first.  Your son fled his responsibilities and by some dark process has now become an abomination unknown in this world.  He threatens the balance that you have spent over thirty thousand years maintaining.  He is no longer your son Inioluwa.  This Alakharu must be destroyed and if he cannot be destroyed then he must be neutralized.  This is the will of the conclave.”

“And just how do you plan on accomplishing this?” Inioluwa said, “He is power incarnate, a Destroyer.”

“We will empower others to act as our proxies.  They will hunt him down and correct the problem.”

“It will not work.  He is too powerful.”

“Then we will send many.”

“And they will all be destroyed.  He is a God now, more powerful than all the Orishas combined.  Can you not sense it?”

“He is an abomination!  And what would you do, protect him?  Try to talk to him?  He is not Alade anymore, he is something completely different.”

“I realize that, that is why I have a plan.”

“You have a plan?  Please do tell.”

“It is a two-fold trap that he must walk into. It is a trap that he will voluntarily walk into.”

“And why would he do that?”

“Because I have something that he wants more than power, vengeance or even life itself.”

“What is this thing?” asked Teju, interrupting Tunji.

“It is mine that is what it is.  If you wish to succeed you will all follow me in this.”

“What is your plan?” demanded Kole.

“I have told you it is two-fold.  Before I can bait the trap, I must build the trap.”

“Okay,” said Tunji, “I am listening.”

“Each clan must grant me the authority to release the war captives.  One of them will track and hunt Alakharu and while the other will attempt to neutralize him when he is found.”

Tade spoke up.  “But I thought you said he is too strong.”

“This is true and most likely he will destroy them both.  But because of the source of the energies contained within them, when he digests their essence he will know that we sent them and in his rage, he will come for us.”

“Are you mad?” shouted Kole. “You want to bring this Destroyer’s wrath down on Ile-Ife?”

“Yes, that is exactly what I want.  He will come to our home, his former home to seek vengeance, but that is when the second part of my plan will unfold.  When he comes to confront us, I will reveal the bait.”

“And then what?” said Ronke.  “You believe that he will simply stop what he is doing and lay down his arms?”

“Yes, he will do exactly that.”

“And then what?”

“He will voluntarily give himself over to imprisonment, in Ile-Ife, the only place that can contain him.”

Abodurin shook his head.  “Inioluwa, in his rage Alakharu will tear apart the dream that is Ile-Ife.”

“No, he will not because the bait will neutralize him long enough for him to be imprisoned in the Maze of Mirrors.”

“Hmmm, the Maze,” said Folusha.  “It may just work.  It all depends upon the nature of the bait.  Since you will not reveal what it is exactly, I trust that it is something irresistible for him?”

“Oh yes, there is nothing is this cosmos that he wants more than this.”

Tunji took a deep breath and stood up nodding to Teju who would manipulate the energies provided by the clans and bind them into the two beings they would create.  As each clan brought forth one servant as requested, Tunji turned to Inioluwa gravely and said, “Then let us begin.”

Nana Buukun and Esu floated unseen observing the conclave and nodded contentedly to each other.  Things were moving quietly and quickly in the right direction and it would not be long before they were able to leave this plane of existence and begin the next phase of creation.  For now, they would let the events they had put into motion play themselves out and wait for Oludumare to complete its part of the plan.  Everything was going according to plan and soon the Triple Being would be able to leave this cosmos and rest once more.

 

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Alade, Chapters 22 & 23: A Debate on Theology and Apotheosis

22

  A Debate on Theology

        I was getting bored and for a creature as powerful and destructive as me that was not necessarily a good thing.  I started to ponder what it would be like to sink the eastern seaboard of the United States into the Atlantic just because I was feeling whimsical.  But I knew I couldn’t do it or at least I knew I wouldn’t do something like that out my own boredom and petulance so while I prepared myself to deal with the Quandisa, I let my thoughts drift back to better times, times when Sunshine was still at my side. The two of us did not just slaughter things together, no we also laughed and loved and had mind blowing sex every day of the week and looking at the Goddess of lust I could only shake my head in confusion.  Why would a Goddess of lust kill or at the least arrange for the death of one of the lustiest creatures ever to grace the Earth?  I closed my eyes and sat back, letting my thoughts run down memory lane for a moment and laughed inwardly when I recalled the time when Sunshine and I chose to experiment with Tiger balm, that wonderful Asian ointment which doubles as a cure for all.  Some genius had told us that if we smeared it all over our respective genitalia before I penetrated her, then we would experience mind blowing sex.  And it was mind blowing and not in a good way, that painful sensation of liquid fire and habanero pepper sauce shooting down my urethra and to this day I can picture Sunshine and I fighting each other for possession of the retractable shower head so we could quickly clean it off our nether regions.   The real enjoyment came later when we tracked down the silly mortal who had given us the advice in the first place and together devoured him slowly both physically and spiritually.  Afterwards, we had lain side by side on the plush carpet of our victim’s home facing each other and staring into each other’s eyes.  No words were spoken and the only sounds we could hear were the beating of our hearts and the gentle sighs of our matched breathing.  It was at that moment when we had realized that there was no turning back, that we loved each other deeply and could deny it no more.  I had met my match, I had found my equal and now just when I needed her most she had been brutally ripped from my arms never to be held by me again.  As I lay back mourning my beloved hyena, the aspect of my power which I had been preparing for the treacherous Goddess of lust blossomed and I opened my eyes and rose from my seat.  It was time to destroy a Goddess so that another could be remade in her place.

         “What is the nature of a God or a Goddess?” I said as I walked towards her. “What defines celestial nature?  Is it power, is it celestial origins or is it the worship garnered by the ministrations of their human followers?  Deities are supposed to be immortal and not susceptible to destruction, yet here I stand before you about to not only destroy a Goddess but to also do something even further beyond that, something that is beyond the mandate of what I have become.  I will destroy this Goddess, but not in the way that is perhaps expected, for just as my own energies and consciousness were shattered, merged and remade in the Cosmic Egg, so will I use my own power to take her energy and transform it to give birth to something new.”  I turned and looked at Lulu and the others who along with the Interloper were watching me carefully.  I approached to where the Quandisa lay constrained and confined and grabbed her by her chin.  I had bound her voice, both the mental and physical ones, for I had no time for her pleas for mercy and as I held her face in my hands I looked deeply into her terrified eyes and simply said, “Goodbye.”  Power arced out from me and penetrated her form and she began to convulse and pulse as her form began to liquefy and drain out onto the Interloper’s throne room floor, where it took on a life of its own and flowed back towards me.  All the liquefied essence of the Goddess flowed towards me and as soon as it touched my form, my body drew it into me, every last drop.  And just like that the Quandisa was no more.  My companions watched with fascination but with little surprise for they had seen me exercise my power before and were no longer surprised by what I could accomplish, but the Interloper surprisingly enough, rather than being horrified or afraid had watched the whole process with curiosity and not a small amount of calculation.  He himself had put down his share of Gods and Goddesses and his lack of surprise or even concern echoed this fact.  But this was only a tiny portion of what I intended; there was a reason why I had needed time to meditate and gather my power.  Not for the destruction I had just wrought, that part was easy I was after all named the Destroyer. But to succeed at what I wished to accomplish I would have to do something that was the antithesis of my very nature; I would have to create.   But first, I needed to make a few changes.  “Interloper,” I said, “I must ask of you a boon.  There is something that I must accomplish and to do it I must free old adversaries of yours.  I ask that you leave them be at least for now until I accomplish my goal and I have spoken to them. If you wish to resume your enmity at that point that is up to you, though I think you will find you will have a change of heart when the time comes.”

 Immediately after these words had left my mouth, Lulu looked up at me in horror and ran across the room to me with a wild look in her eyes.  “Alakharu, what the fuck do you think you are doing?  If you free them here he will destroy them.  How can you betray me like this?  I will not let you destroy my Gods too; I don’t care how powerful you are!”

“What is she talking about?  What other Gods?” the Interloper asked, as already he was beginning to craft new defenses in anticipation of a fight.

“Calm down everyone!  Lulu I have not betrayed you, I am trying to help you and your Gods.  You must trust me please.  As for your question Interloper, it seems that your enemies the Kongo Gods did not fall into stasis nor were they destroyed.  All these centuries, they have been sequestered within Mbilia over there, who is the daughter of the Bakongo king you had the Quandisa seduce and betray.  As you can imagine she doesn’t have a very high opinion of you.  I intend on freeing them from Mbilia and restoring them to power, but that is not all.  Mbilia has been a vessel for a powerful pantheon of Gods and Goddesses for so long that she has acquired certain attributes that make her more than mortal.  And with the energy I have collected from the destroyed Goddess I aim to make it permanent.  In short, Lulu, my dear Mbilia, you too will achieve apotheosis, you too will transcend and become a Goddess.”  The look on her face was priceless as she stood there frozen her eyes unblinking, and Shawn, already the recipient of a gift of my power began to quietly laugh, while Samantha continued to study the many pieces of artwork which graced the throne room, oblivious to the drama being enacted around it, its powers being Godlike as it is, it had no desire for more.

 “No more need for the constant libation Lulu,” I said, “No more being forced to constantly swallow bourbon and no longer will you shoulder this burden that you have shouldered alone for three centuries.  If you allow me to do this then you will be free, and you will be a great power in your own right.  A Bokor of the Makaya sect serves both sides of the balance.  You will be beholden to none.”

She considered this before asking, “And what of my Gods?  What will happen to them?”

“I will see to it that they find their place in this world.  After all there are many today who worship the Orishas falsely thinking that they are worshipping the Kongo Gods.  We will restore them to their rightful place and I will gain new allies against my enemies.”  The Interloper was silent and very still for a moment before coming to my side and saying, “You will allow me to watch how you do this?”

“Of course, my friend, I know you hunger for knowledge, and the energy you have taken from defeated Gods must be burning a hole in your pocket eh?  Didn’t Esu teach you any tricks?”

“No, he did not.  He chooses to reveal what he will when he chooses, though I feel different already by your presence here.  Will your actions here not change what we believe of the concept of divinity?”

“It most certainly will.  After all, that is the point I am trying to make.  What we have been led to believe about the nature of creation and the Gods themselves is a lie and my actions will force open a new debate on theology in the Heavens and on Earth.  Shawn over there can attest to the malleability of the term God, just try to test his new power, as does my own existence and of course yours, oh mighty interloper.  You are not one of the irunmoles, yet you are a God nonetheless, one who stands so far above them, yet was self-manifested not created.  You do not realize it now, but you are as powerful as I am.  Esu is simple playing his chaotic games with you, your final metamorphosis is imminent I can sense it.  But we will discuss that later.  Now Lulu, known as Princess Mbilia, prepare yourself and prepare your Gods, the time for a metamorphosis is upon us now.”

         Religion has always consisted of a several different complex layers bound together by philosophy, theology and faith.  The basis and foundation of a belief system can be found at the center of any faith existing in quiet sadness while waiting for its adherents to finally get it right.  It was much the same with the various Gods and Goddesses of the Earth. They all existed on the fringes so far removed front the central core of the truth that even if it were revealed to them they would be unable to accept its revelation.  In the Adobe of Creation, deep within Olorun, Nana Buukun contemplated the state of Creation and the steps which her and her counterparts had taken to correct its rapid descent into the void from whence it had been brought forth so many eons ago.  When there had only been Ashe, she had penetrated its energy as men penetrate their wives with herself, she who is Thought and in doing so she had transformed it into Oludumare/Esu, though in the penetrating something greater than all three had emerged.  The theologists had it all wrong, just as the scientists also had it wrong she thought, as she watched what was transpiring on the Earth.  Why on should there only be two expressions of form, one male and one female, when even in the simplest of creatures three forms can be reflected?  But she was never one for the spotlight, so she never corrected this oversight and look where the world was today.  For like a sacred triangle her actions in Ashe had caused a reaction; she was female, just as Oludumare was without sex, and so Esu was male.  They were three, the Creators.  The reality was that there was actually a Triple Being bound in equilibrium and that was the great truth at the core of all faiths.  As she watched Alakharu begin his preparations to transform Mbilia and free the Kongo Gods, she wondered just how much he remembered of his initiation into her mysteries and if when the time came for him to reveal it to the world would he be prepared for the war that would come.  For males do not like to acknowledge the feminine within them and the idea that the feminine can penetrate just as deeply as the male would not sit well with most.  She was the Grandmother of all Divinities who gave birth to both the Cosmic Egg and to the Cosmic Seed which fertilized the Cosmic Egg though it was the energies of chaotic Esu which had given it the spark, the Big Bang so to speak, while Oludumare was both the womb and the testes which kept the cycle of life constant.  They had all played their parts in this celestial drama and soon it would be time for all her and Esu to retire and rejoin Oludumare who represented a completely different facet of Creation one that the beings of this cosmos chose to ignore.  In this way, they would be able to turn their powerful consciousness to another direction for Creation. In this world there was male, female and other, but soon they knew they must challenge their very powers to create a new cosmos without divisions.  But there must be forces remaining in this one to ensure its proper functioning.  As soon as she was certain all the important players had been put into action she too would turn her back on this corner of Creation.  She smiled as she thought of her counterparts, sleepy Oludumare and chaotic Esu and looked forward to merging once again with them and returning to stasis and cosmic contemplation.  These times were for younger Gods and even Creators such as themselves understood when a cycle was over and theirs was rapidly coming to an end.  If all that her and Esu had put into play came to pass than there would soon be others to play their roles.  But for now, she would watch her instrument carefully just as Esu would watch his, for soon she realized sleepy Oludumare would put its own piece into play and for good or for bad the Triple Being would have to accept the consequences of its actions and leave this cosmos.

23

 Apotheosis

         I had no idea what I was doing though I knew what I wanted to happen.  And though I was possessed of nearly omnipotent strength, I was still young in my powers and was still learning just what I was capable of and how to go about doing it.  I knew that I wanted to free the Kongo Gods from the singularity locked deep within Mbilia and to somehow do it without damaging them or Mbilia.  Quite frankly it would have been so much easier if Mbilia was more like her alter ego Lulu because if that was the case I could have just destroyed all the Kongo Gods where they lay hidden and collected their energy as I had done with the Quandisa.  That way I could simply reroute their energy into Mbilia and use it to fuel her transformation safely by harnessing the properties of the singularity within her.  Instead, now I had to come up with a means to release her Gods and the energy they had been hoarding for centuries safely while leaving Mbilia intact and prepared to receive my communion.  I had to do all this while the Interloper and his court watched carefully and could not allow them to think for one second that I was not in complete control of the forces at my beck and call.  I thought back to my own time in the Egg and tried to grasp the concepts that the lessons of Nana Buukun had drilled into me while I gestated, but that consciousness was long gone, and I stood here as something else.  Yet I remembered enough from my time in her temple to realize that there was a simple way to accomplish this though it would mean revealing my mastery over another aspect of space/time.  I would need to create a second singularity within Mbilia one in counterpoint to the one which already existed there to form a bridge from that world into this one.  I would use the ancient alchemical techniques of the Kongo people themselves to enact the spiritual bridge called Nganga, the dark mirror of celestial thaumaturgy which magically speaking would allow me to yank the Kongo Gods out through this bridge and to manifest them in this world once again, leaving Mbilia perfectly balanced between the mountain of Life and the sea of Death in equilibrium with the reflection of the truth of the One God.  For a time, she would become a living portal until I could complete her alchemical transformation and ignite a subtle fire within that portal, a lightning which would connect her with the worlds of both the living and the dead and cement her communion with the power which I would feed into her.  She would become a risen reflection of the pact she would share with the dead and her ancestors, yet through it she would have limited access to the powers of creation just as I had full access to those of destruction.  Through my workings the vision of Nana Buukun would begin to come to pass and in Mbilia I would have a powerful ally.  For make no mistake, as powerful as I was, I was under no illusion that my abilities had not come without a price tag, and as such in exchange for the means to exact my revenge I would serve that most mysterious part of Creation in any way she saw fit.  If changing Lulu into a Goddess was part of her will then so be it.  I was ready to begin.

Alade, Chapter 21: A Fateful Meeting

21 

A Fateful Meeting

        I love a large size bed because it means that I can roll all over it in my sleep and place myself in whatever position feels comfortable without having to concern myself with space.  But even still a king size bed has only so much space, so I found myself using my power to create new space/time at the edges of the mattress so that in my restlessness I would have an infinite amount of space to place my various body parts.  Our convalescence at the Hilton did wonders for everyone and more importantly it allowed me to begin to come to grips with the being Akharu and I had become and also it gave my companions the opportunity to lose their new-found fear of me and once again have the confidence that I was the same friend who had journeyed with them all these years. It was amazing to be outside of the confines of Georgia Avenue with my merry band of misfits and seeing the obvious joy in every step that Samantha took was a reward.  But just as each moment of levity and laughter among me and my friends took me a step closer to healing, the very absence of my beloved Sunshine here in this world continued to feed my rage and hunger for vengeance.  I could not put aside my loss not even for Nana Buukun, though from what I understood I could oppose the balance how I saw fit.  I watched the Quandisa watching me and continued to pretend that I was oblivious to her treachery, but for now it was important that I meet with her employer for if the order to kill Sunshine had originated from him there would soon be two less Gods in creation.  I luxuriated in my reemergence into the world of humanity and continued to explore the boundaries of my power.  I knew now that if I so wished it I could crack this world in half with very little effort and in some strange way this gave me a new sense of peace.  For I was alone in my opposition to the balance and all the Gods who served the balance were only equal to me if they united against me, which of course would never happen.  It gave me a new perspective, after all my powers did not originate from worship and I really did not need the Earth to fuel my power.  I could happily blow up the world and not be in the slightest bit affected by it.  This gave me leverage over the Orishas and I would use it to the fullest.  Though in truth, I was missing an important point because I was so blinded by my desire for vengeance.  My counterparts could feel my presence in the world, but I, in my rage had not solved the riddle of Nana Buukun and her revelations in both my youth and in the Cosmic Egg and more importantly I still did not understand the reason for my transformation.

        The Quandisa knelt before me awaiting my signal and as soon as I nodded my head my companions closed ranks around me and I snatched the beacon that she had provided me (even though I did not need it) and first threw my own consciousness down its signal while pulling my physical self and those of my companions behind me afterwards.  In this way, I made sure that my friends would be safe, because even though I was in no danger they could be used as hostages against my good behavior, a weakness which I planned on rectifying very soon.  But for now, I would remain vigilant and even as we floated in the throne room of the Interloper, surrounded by beings of power that were ready to attack us at the slightest signal from their master, I felt at ease.  I was sure now that this God was not my enemy, and I somehow felt a strange kinship with him that seemed to grow the longer I remained in his presence. What role he was playing in this celestial drama I needed to know.  I ceased our aimless floating and watched the being called the Interloper approach me, his white robes, hair and beard glowing with incandescent fire as his eyes blazed with the stolen power of defeated Gods and I was suitably impressed so much so that I began to laugh.  The Interloper stopped his approach and tensed and as he tensed I felt his heavenly choir around us begin to gear for battle.  I shook my head with amusement and held up my hand for his forbearance until my laughter had stopped.  “My apologies,” I began, “oh mighty Interloper, I meant no insult.  It is only that all this pomp and ceremony, plus the two of us sporting such impressive physical forms designed to showcase our respective power seems ridiculous.  I did not come here to destroy, at least not yet, I came here to talk.  Is all this necessary?  If having stepped one foot in your realm I had believed you to be my enemy, you would have no more realm.  I am here to hear a story, your story and if I enjoy it perhaps we can come to an accommodation.  After all the enemy of my enemy is my friend correct?  And by the way, I know that the Quandisa, despite her amateurish attempts at deception, was integral in Sunshine’s murder.  Her life is now forfeit, she belongs to me now to do as I wish.  Unless of course you have a problem with that, but why would you, after all you had nothing to do with Sunshine’s death correct?”  The Interloper said nothing but watched as the Goddess of lust tried to flee but I had already placed bindings upon her even before we had arrived.  She was not going anywhere, and I would deal with her later.  Besides I had an idea of how to use her and her divine origins to our advantage at the same time taking vengeance for both Mbilia and myself.  “You are correct Destroyer, she acted beyond her instructions, and for this I am sorry.  Your beloved was not meant to harmed, on the contrary it was in my best interests that you remain happy and in love.  If you had, you would not be standing before me now leaking power everywhere” he replied.  “But for beings such as us there must always be protocol and order.  It is simply the way of things.  And I understand that she has violated this.  Do as you will with her.”

“Ah but that is where we differ, Interloper.  I could care less about protocol and order. After all, my job is after all to tear down such structures.  By the way, please call me Alakharu, since I have not quite destroyed anything so that name does not yet qualify.”

“Why have you come here then Alakharu, if not to destroy me?  You are after all a product of the Orishas, my sworn enemies?”

“No, I am most certainly not.  I am something else as you yourself know for the very same reason that you knelt before Esu.”

“How could you possibly know that?”

“I know a great many things now.  But please elaborate on that; your future or lack of one depends on it.”

“Is that a threat?”

“No, it is a simple statement of fact.  If I find that you had anything to do with the events that culminated in Sunshine’s death I will show you just exactly why they named me the Destroyer and there is nothing you or any of your minions could do about it.  And by the way, any attempt to harm my companions would be unwise; you would be surprised at just how much they have grown in their proximity to me.  Now tell me why did you kneel to Esu, Interloper?”

“I knelt to Esu, because Esu is not really Esu.”

“Then what is Esu?”

“Esu one aspect of the One God.”

“Ahh, I thought as much.  Things are not at all what they seem, or what we have been led to believe.  Come Interloper let us talk you and me.  I need to hear your perspective of things for even now I feel powers growing within you much as they have within me, and you need to hear my story.”

“Alakharu, my orders to the fallen Goddess were simply to prevent you becoming the weapon, to keep you in Georgia Avenue, or to bring you here once you matured so we could talk.  Killing Sunshine was not in my best interests nor was it my orders, I assure you.  I am sorry for your loss, but you must lay that firmly at the feet of Yemoja and of course the Quandisa.  You see, I understand her motivation, she hoped to free herself from bondage to me by unleashing you.”

“Yes, I can see it now.”

“What will you do with her?”

“I will kill two birds with one stone; she is after all a Goddess.”

“And how will you do this?”

“You will see my friend, you will see.  I can call you my friend now correct?”

The Interloper turned and smiled at me the connection between the two of us growing and his power blazed out from him as he fiercely embraced me.  “Can you call me friend Alakharu?” he said, “oh yes, you most certainly can.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alade, chapters 18 & 19: The Witness and Return

19  

The Witness

       The Witness of Fate was not in stasis nor was he absent.  Because he was the first of all the irunmoles, the only one who communicated directly with the One God he was well aware of the events which had been occurring on Earth.  Gifted with the vision to see the path that the One God had laid out for creation, Orunmila had watched the manipulations of Esu and had even gone along with some of them, for in truth he knew that Esu and the One God were one and the same.  His communion with the One God was profound and absolute so this meant that he could sense the One God in no matter what form it chose to take.  That there were two sides to the One God did not disturb him in the least; but the fact that there seemed to be a third previously unknown element involved in creation that he had been unaware of did disturb him.  The revelations of Nana Buukun and her own extremely subtle manipulations had culminated in the rebirth of the Destroyer.  Alakharu had risen and even in his refuge on Georgia Avenue the effects of his dark power on the fabric of creation could be felt even here in Orunmila’s private sanctuary at the far reaches of the universe.  Where he now stood in contemplation, the primal light from the moment of creation still had not arrived yet and it was here in this nether region where the Witness of Fate had chosen to remain until his vision had cleared once more.  Too much was muddled, and he did not understand what the One God was trying to accomplish.  But he was only a servant and it was not his place to understand only to obey.  Closing his eyes, he sent out a mental call which winged its way through the fabric of reality and found its way to the beacon of faith that was his priest, Niño.  He spoke to him with power, giving him certain instructions which he knew he would obey to the letter and listened with concern to what Nino related to him of his experiences with Alakharu before his transformation.  Nino would travel to Ile-Ife as planned and when he arrived there Orunmila would come to take possession of the blood Nino bore.  For in the end blood will always sing true and if he wished to understand what Alakharu was, he needed to understand from where he had come from.  For no entity created by the Gods, Omo Orisa or otherwise, no matter how powerful, should have been able to achieve apotheosis.  There was a story that his vision had missed and in his isolation, he too had felt a strange calling and understanding began to dawn upon him as one aspect of the One God called to him and imparted to him what his own role would be in the ongoing celestial drama.  The universe was changing and they all had roles to play and Orunmila now understood that his own transformation was imminent.  As Niño drew closer to Ile-Ife Orunmila began to feel the presence of his counterparts in the world and of their growing powers.  If the three of them were to play out the roles assigned to them by the Triple Being, then he must embrace his own transformation.  He would remain here at the edge of creation and wait until Niño arrived in Ile-Ife and when he did he would travel there to meet his servant and then his own transformation into the third aspect would begin.

 

 

20
 Return

       I floated in a sea of my of dreams, rolling slowly and luxuriating in the soothing motion of my power as it pulsed and flexed around me, testing its boundaries in preparation for my return to the world outside and the inevitable destruction which I had to unleash upon those feckless Gods who had taken Sunshine from me.  I was a new being now, one unprecedented in creation, a being that had gestated deep within the Cosmic Egg and had been reborn for one purpose only; to oppose the balance by any means necessary.  I would take everything from these petty Gods and throw down their very creation; I would be the Destroyer that Yemoja had so desired, but no longer would I be her pet but instead I would be her master.  I would oppose the balance as was my mandate, as Nana Buukun had empowered me to do and I would do it extremely well.  My righteous rage kept me afloat in the defensive cocoon of black energy which I maintained constantly around myself and my now blazing green eyes looked out of this mesh of power at my companions and knew that it was time for us to depart.  I signaled the Quandisa to approach, and she came forward and knelt before me, giving me the respect due to a being of my power.  When I spoke it was without words, and I made my desire clear to her; show me the path to the Interloper, for it is past time that we left.  She stood up, bowed then closed her eyes and after a few minutes she opened them and spoke.  “Lord Alakharu,” she began, “the message is sent, and as soon as we cross the borders of this place the Interloper will send emissaries to escort us to him.”  I began to laugh at the last part of her statement, causing power to spark out from my eyes and spoke out loud saying, “Emissaries?  I have no need of emissaries, I know exactly how to reach him, I was simply being polite.  Besides, we both know that these emissaries will be powerful servants who he believes will be capable of, let us say, deterring me, should I decide to be more forceful in my approach.  Anyway, it matters not.  If he had nothing to do with Sunshine’s death I will not bother him, in fact I might just help him by destroying all his greatest rivals.  I must oppose the balance, but I will do it as I see fit.  If that means that he and I will become friends as a result, then so be it.  Sunshine must be avenged at all costs.  Prepare yourselves all you; we are all about to leave, even you Samantha.  I promised you once we would leave this world and take our rightful place outside, well now is that time.   I will allow nothing to touch or harm any of you for my power is greater than that of any of the Gods now, and even all their power combined is only equal to mine.  You are all bound to me in purpose, so you have nothing to fear.”  Shawn looked at me, smiling with excitement and Lulu had a hungry look on her face as she swallowed more bourbon.  Samantha had changed from its customary layers of veils and concealing robes to a more modern look; jeans, a long-sleeved shirt and a head scarf while the Quandisa just stared at me curiously as I watched them watching me.  Eventually, Shawn quietly spoke up.  “Alakharu,” he began, having some difficulty not calling me by my previous name, “What of the balance?”

“It is my mandate to oppose it.”

“And what about us?  What will we do outside of here?  This has been our home for so long.”

“You will continue to serve me, as you have been serving me here, for you are my chosen, the first among those who will flock to my cause.”

“Okay, that’s cool, but if that’s the case and we will be opposing the balance, then we will have many powerful enemies and the few abilities I have just will not suffice.  I will need more power, a lot more power if I am to serve you well.  We both know that outside of Georgia Avenue my relationship with the Mwbiri will change drastically especially since I will not have such easy access to crack.  It will take advantage of this and consume me utterly and move on to another host which I do not under any circumstances want to happen, thank you very much.”

“Is that all that you want Shawn, more power?   Power I have in abundance, so you shall have more power Shawn, as much as you need.  I will give you enough power so that you will be the one doing the consuming and this power will free you of your demon once and for all, transforming you into something else, something greater though I know not what exactly.  Are you ready now?  Good, then prepare yourself for my gift.”

The others stared at Shawn as if he was a madman, and while they all digested the implications of our conversation, I thrust a spike of power into him causing him to cry out in pain and fall to the ground.  I calmly watched as Shawn convulsed and spasmed on the ground as my power consumed the Mwbiri demon possessing him transforming its demonic energies and fueling his metamorphoses and fusion with a portion of my own dark powers.  My companions looked at me in horror, thinking that I had killed him; Lulu took a step back from me.  I floated over to Shawn and stood over him and as I watched him his convulsions stopped.  I looked down at his face as his eyes finally opened and smiled at him.  “Is that enough power for you, my friend?” I asked him quietly.  He stood up quickly, flexing his arms and feeling the new energy within his form.  He had grown more robust and a little taller and there was vibrancy in him that previously in his crack addiction he had lacked.  He turned and pointed to a lamp which imploded as he spoke a word, surprising everyone including himself.  Shawn, now beaming with pleasure, turned to me with an evil smile on his face and knelt before me.  “Thank you Lord Alakharu, this is enough power indeed.”  I nodded to him and spoke a word in his mind and he quickly stood up and turned to the back wall, speaking an arcane word again and suddenly a rift opened there which showed a clear view into the world outside Georgia Avenue, the real world of humanity where we were travelling to.  He grinned at me as I bowed to him, acknowledging his new mastery and said to me, “After you my Lord.  Watch your step.”  I carefully took two steps into the rift, quickly exiting it on the other side and for the first time in many years I stood once again in the real world, a world that was already preparing to try to destroy me as it had done once before

        I stood on the inner edge of the vast green lawn that was the Mall, staring with wonder at the various museums which dotted the landscape as far as the eye could see, suddenly remembering why I loved this city so much.  The accumulated wisdom and culture of thousands of years of human history hung palpably in the air and you could see its effect on humanity in the eyes of the many tourists who hungrily flock to Washington DC and its Smithsonian.  It reminded me of all the things which I used to love about life on Earth and for a moment I felt the bloody rage in me subside.  I took in the sights and sounds that I had been deprived of over the last decade and breathed it in deeply trying desperately to let it fill that part of my soul that was now empty and broken by the loss of my beloved Sunshine.  But it could not last, nor would I have wanted this peace and serenity to continue for I had a job to do and this nostalgia was only making it more difficult more me to focus.  I turned to my companions, who were all in various stages of enjoyment also, though I had to caution Lulu about openly taking swigs from her bottle.  I would get her a drinking flask later.

         Many things had changed and that also included my appearance.  In my self-absorption, I was not paying attention to the looks that I was getting from the many people on the Mall.   Quite frankly I looked monstrous.  First, my skin was a mottled black and grey color now like a leprous Dalmatian, gone was my beautiful chocolate skin tone.  Secondly, I was now massive.  My power was manifesting itself physically in a world which had very little raw magical power in it anymore, so I had grown in stature.  I was bigger than the Nephilim had been now, which was to say that I was immense.  And finally, since humanity now mainly worshipped science, this meant that just like an electrical charge that builds in the clouds ultimately discharges itself in some way, usually through lightning strikes to balance the energy differential, my power was constantly discharging because it was endless, and it was new in this empty world.  The many humans around me saw an almost ten feet tall and monstrous looking man who seemed to be arcing energy like a Taser and they began to point and stare at me.  It was Samantha who took charge of the situation before things got out of hand and gathered all of us in her power and shifted us away from there, just as several Park police officers had begun walking in our direction.  Surprised from my reverie, I looked up at my surroundings, annoyed that we were no longer on the Mall, and turned to the others and asked, “Which of you did that?  I wasn’t ready to leave yet?”  Samantha approached me cautiously, holding a small mirror in her hands.  “Alakharu,” she whispered, “look at yourself.  We could not stay there; the humans were already looking at us because of your appearance.  You must transform into something more suitable for this world.”  I looked into the mirror that it held up for me and took a step back, shocked at what I saw.  I had let my grief consume me and it visibly showed in my appearance.  I was not in control of my power, it was in control of me and if I did not get myself under control the results would be disastrous.  I reached out and touched Samantha’s face silently thanking it for its quick thinking and then turned my focus inward.  I pictured myself happy, laughing and kissing Sunshine, I pictured myself wandering through Europe a joyful vagabond, and I pictured my youth so long ago in Ile-Ife, and little by little I forced my body to change, to transform back to my original form, though with a few improvements.  My blazing green eyes I would keep, for the green flame that burned within them would serve to remind others of my true nature.  For the sake of mortal sensibilities, I would wear sunglasses to hide them, and I drastically reduced my mass to a more inconspicuous size.  Finally, my skin returned to its glorious chocolate tone and I forced my power to retreat into the depths of my inner space, and took back full control of my destiny.  No longer would I wallow in self-pity and rage, not when I had a job to do.  Vengeance would come eventually, but for now since I was back in the world and I had a few Gods that I needed to see, it must wait.  I looked around the beach to which Samantha had transported us and smiled.  “This is black volcanic sand.  I see you took us to Santorini Samantha.  Good thing it’s the off season or we would have a lot of explaining to do.  Anyway, as you can see I am back to normal, and I am sure you want to know what the plan is.  Well for now this is what we are going to do.  I am going to get us the two biggest suites at the Washington Hilton and we are going to take a well-earned break from the madness that has become our lives.  We have earned it.  Besides things are about to get a lot more complicated so let’s enjoy the peace and quiet while we can.  Besides, we have been waiting to come back for a long time so let’s make the most of it.  I know I plan on being lazy, eating a great deal, catching up on movies I have missed and doing a little clothes shopping.  Is anybody else game for it?”  Everyone was smiling now that I seemed to be in control of myself once again, and the old sense of camaraderie between us blossomed the moment I had mentioned hotel suites and shopping.  I signaled to my companions that I was ready and then used my power to transport us to the Washington Hilton.  As the concierge came and greeted me as if I was a long-lost friend, I could not help smiling, for deep inside I knew that this peace and serenity was an illusion, the calm before the storm.  Soon I would need to break something, and I knew I would soon get my chance.  And as I remembered Raziel’s words to me about Yemoja’s supposed love for me I smiled, for now my mind was clear and unchained I knew understood the manipulations I had undergone for what they were.  If I saw Raziel again her and I were going to have a very long talk, one that this time will certainly not end up with me on my back immobilized and in pain.  No, this time things would be very different indeed.

         The Interloper watched as Alakharu and his group manifested on Earth and immediately felt the sudden shift in the power differential in that realm.   Esu had not exaggerated; he had become a force to reckon with.  The Interloper had sent an emissary to him as soon as he had sensed their arrival, but somehow the group had shifted their position in space again before the emissary had arrived and once again they were now beyond the Interloper’s sight.  Alakharu’s power seemed to express itself differently than that of most of the Gods, and this made sense since he was in opposition to their own mandate to maintain the balance.  The Interloper sat down heavily on his throne and called one his most powerful servants to him.  The Seraph bowed to him and waited for him to speak.  “Soon we shall have a visitor,” the Interloper began, “a visitor that you and your brothers and sisters might in your diligence and duty try to slay because of its nature.  That would be a grave mistake and would have terrible consequences.  When this power comes, and you will know when it comes, you are to allow it entrance without harassment and escort it politely to me.  Then you will all leave my Refuge until I have called for your return.  Understood?”

“Yes, my Lord,” it replied flexing its three pairs of wings nervously.

“Now go and inform your siblings, for I have a feeling that it will not be too long before this new power arrives.”

The Seraph bowed deeply and flew off to implement his commands and the Interloper shuddered as he cocooned himself in time once more and found his sight blocked.  Things had been put into play now and how this would end he could no longer see.  All he could do now was sit and wait, for until his own transformation into the second aspect, he was vulnerable, a feeling that he was very uncomfortable with.  For yes, even a God could feel fear.

         Niño wiped the sweat off his brow as he crested the top of the hill.  He had been trekking steadily up this steep incline with a new-found lightness in his step.  He had heard the wisdom of his God and knew that he would soon be with him in body as well as in spirit.  He could feel the border of Ile-Ife approaching and as he looked out across the valley below him he knew that his journey was at end.  Before him rose a shimmering multi-colored curtain, which could only have been created out of the very stuff of dreams, such was its magnificence and impermanence.  He could feel the pull of the Gods very strongly as if they walked just beyond the barrier that he stood before.  Although he was excited and yearned to run down the hill and breach the border with joy in his heart, he knew that if he were to attempt such a thing he would be obliterated, so for that reason he took a deep breath, remembered what Alade Akeju had taught him and focused not on what he saw before him but instead on what he sensed within the barrier.  He carefully anointed his eyes and forehead with Alade’s blood from the flask and then took a deep swallow of the black liquid, shuddering as it wormed its way through his senses and wrenching open what is sometimes called the third eye.  He closed his mundane eyes and let this new one guide his actions and as he quietly controlled his breathing he found himself gaining confidence as his energy level began to match that of what he sensed within.  The light in the barrier grew softer and the interdiction which he had felt quickly fell away, and Niño, human priest of Orunmila breached the barrier into Ile-Ife and tumbled into another world.

Alade, Chapter 18: Rebirth

Part 3: Return 

 

18

Rebirth

 

        Floating in the void, I awoke to a soft voice questioning me from a thousand mouths which seemed to surround me from every perspective.  Though I was in agony and through the pain that I was experiencing I remembered the lessons that Nephilim had taught me and forced my consciousness to awareness and focused on the voice and its questions.

Who are you?

I do not know.

What are you trying to achieve?

I am not sure.

Do you know where you are?

In an alternate dimension.

No, you are elsewhere.

Where am I?

Do you not remember your lesson?

Which lesson?

   “Before there was day,

    Before there was night,

    And before there was a Universe,

    All things lived in harmony in Olorun, The Cosmic Heavens,

    Located in the realm of Ikode Orun.

    The Giant Egg that sat in the center of Nothingness.”

The lesson of Nana Buukun.

I am in the Egg?

Yes.

Why?

Where else are Gods born?

I am not a God.

But you will be soon.  That and more.

What about my destiny to cultivate a weapon?

A deception, as were many of the things you have been told.

What must I do?

For now, you must sleep.  There is another who comes to join with you, one who has yearned to return to your side, but you never saw fit to call it.  It comes now so that you two will become one being with the power and skills to shake the heavens themselves.  In its time away from your side it has grown in power and skill.  There is no Goddess that can rip from you that which is you.

What other being comes to join me?

Your old friend.

Akharu?

Yes.  The two of you will merge forms, becoming a weapon, a power, a God. You will be something more than a God and something new, a new being who will change the nature of this cosmos.

Why?  To serve the balance?

No, to oppose it.

But why?

Because even the balance must have balance, and already too many serve it to its detriment.  All things must have an equal and an opposite.

I will be alone in this task?

Yes and no.  But there will be no other Gods in opposition to the balance, only you.

That doesn’t make sense.  The others will destroy me utterly.

You will be equal in power to all of them combined; this is the essence of the balance.

Who are you?

I am not so frivolous now, eh?

Nana Buukun?

Rest now, your Akharu approaches.

         As I rested within the Cosmic Egg, Akharu arrived and we had a brief but joyous reunion before the forces contained within the Egg tore us apart.  We were broken into a million pieces, shattered beyond recognition, reduced to monads, the smallest point of consciousness so that we could be re-forged into a mighty new God form driven by a new purpose.  We cried out in unison as we were bent and battered into shape, and begged for mercy as we were folded and hammered repeatedly while being heated with fires hotter than those of the stars.  With each of the mighty smith’s blows I became less Lucius; with each of the many quenchings Alade Akeju became less and less recognizable.  Akharu resembled nothing so much as a vortex of energy, and was swirling around the Egg in pieces as bit by bit, piece by piece the two of us were layered and wrapped around each other’s souls and consciousness until a new being began to emerge.  The fire burnt away our doubts and gave us a new hardness and flexibility that we both lacked before. Our skill sets became sharper and the depth of our power was unfathomable.  I looked upon my old friend with what remained of my awareness for the last time, and then I gave up my consciousness to the metamorphosis.  Alade Akeju and Akharu were destroyed and deep within the Cosmic Egg something dark and deadly stirred restlessly waiting for the moment to be reborn.

         Lulu sat drinking bourbon with the Quandisa, who had turned out to be surprisingly good company.  Shawn, as usual was hovering around the Goddess of lust looking for a smile or a hint of her interest, and never quite getting satisfaction.  A year had gone by since Sunshine’s death and Lucius’ disappearance and remarkably the Quandisa had almost become one of the family.  While in the process of taking a large swig of the bottle Lulu suddenly spit out her mouthful and shouted, “Get down now!”  All three of them ducked just in time to see an eruption of eldritch energy coming from above the sitting room, just beneath the ceiling.  They all quickly prepared for battle, taking various defensive positions around the room all the while carefully watching the rift which had opened above them.  Lulu had begun to chant and just as she was about the launch her spell, she heard a familiar voice calling out to her.  “Hold Lulu,” it said, “I am coming through.  Don’t blast me.”  The others looked up in puzzlement, their guards still up and when a massive, muscular and very naked dark brown skinned entity descended from the hole; they were terrified for this being radiated power such as none of them had ever experienced.  Lulu stared at it closely, at its glowing green eyes and the many scars that graced its transformed body, and as understanding dawned upon her she stood up.  “Lucius,” she asked, “Is that you?”

“No Lulu.  Lucius is no more and just as Alade Akeju is no more.”

“Then who are you? You speak with his voice, you have his eyes and you are marked by the same scars as he was.”

“Who am I?  Of that I am not quite sure yet, but my name is Alakharu.  I am the Destroyer, he who must oppose the balance.  Quandisa, your master wanted to meet me?  Well there is no time like the present, so take me to him.  It is time I returned to the world outside.  I have much work to do.”

Alade, Chapters 16 & 17: Tragedy Strikes and Revelation

16

Tragedy Strikes

        My life seems to have been nothing, but a series of unfortunate incidents designed to push me onto a predestined path.  How could I ever have believed that fate would allow me in even a moment of happiness?  How did I delude myself into thinking there would be a happily ever after for me?  Something woke me up with dread and I rolled onto my back and opened my eyes, ripping myself from the dream world and launching myself from the bed. Something was wrong I could feel it and I looked around desperately, wondering where was Sunshine.  I felt and awful sense of foreboding so I grabbed the closest clothes I could find and rushed out of our bedroom and stormed into the living room where I saw Shawn and Samantha sitting down with their heads in their hands.  “What’s going on Shawn?” I demanded, “Where is Sunshine?”  He looked down at the floor, unable to face me so I turned to Samantha.  “Samantha, tell me what is going on please, where the hell is Sunshine?”  Samantha calmly stood up and walked over to me and put its arms around me.  “I am so sorry Lucius,” it said sadly, “Sunshine was ambushed this morning.  She is dead.”  The room was silent, and no one spoke.  I felt the world reeling and I found it difficult to breathe.  Shawn rushed around the sofa and caught me before I fell and guided me to a chair.  I sat still for a few moments before quietly asking, “Are you sure?”

“Yes Lucius,” he said.

“I knew something was wrong, I felt it, goddammit it woke me up!  Why didn’t whatever it was that woke me, not wake me sooner so I could have protected her?  I would have known the moment she was in danger.   Damn it Shawn, not my Sunshine!  Anyone but her.  Who or what did this?”

“A leopard.”

“A leopard?”

“Yes, Lucius.”

“Why?  We are not enemies.  And if we were why not strike at me instead?”

“Because Lucius, it was not the Society itself; it was a single individual acting alone.  He wanted you to feel as he did when you slew his mate during the war.”

“His mate was a warrior?”

“Yes.”

“Then she knew the risks just as did he. Why take this vengeance for something that happened in battle? Does he know there can be no going back from this, that I will torture his miserable soul for the rest of my many years?  This is very strange for this is not their way.  The Leopard Society are honorable foes.”

“We are not sure why he did this, Lucius; perhaps Lulu can enlighten us.  She has been acting very strangely lately.  She swears she saw someone from her childhood here.”

“She saw someone from her childhood?  What the hell is she talking about?  Forget that for now, where is Sunshine?  Where is she?  I need to go to her right now.”

“I am sorry Lucius, but she was devoured. There is nothing left of her.”

At that I screamed, screamed as I have never screamed, and all the love that I bore for Sunshine erupted from me and the darkness which it had held at bay came to the forefront on my senses and all I could hear was the call of vengeance for the life that had been so untimely ripped from me.  Sunshine, my love, my heart, how could you be gone, I thought?  We had so many things planned for our life together.  I cried for her as I have never shed tears in my long existence, and for each tear that I shed I found new sense of resolve.  Vengeance would not satisfy me for wouldn’t I have slain the Leopard anyway if he had killed Sunshine in a battle?  Something felt wrong here, there was too much synchronicity in these events.  I needed to get myself together, so I could figure this out, but I felt as if my heart had just been torn from my body, and as I sat there weeping, Lulu walked in red-eyed, as if she had been crying also and sat next to me.  She placed her arm around my shoulders and held me while I wept and after what seemed to be an eternity she leaned forward and whispered in my ear.  “Lucius, I know you are in pain, but we have much bigger problems right now.  Remember the story I told you about my father, the king being seduced by some mystery woman?  Well guess what?  She is here, now in this place.  I saw her talking to the leopard that killed Sunshine just a few weeks ago, and it has been bothering me since then, but I chalked it up to an old girl’s poor eyesight and wishful thinking.  And now this tragedy strikes.  Remember that Seku, or whatever her real name is, is a harbinger, or even worse the cause of disaster.  We must find her before she takes anything more from both of us.  I am sure it is her influence that caused this.”  I looked up at Lulu and saw the truth in her eyes, and as I began to contemplate that creature’s role in Sunshine’s death my dark power began to grow once more, and the darkness came flowing back into me like an old friend.  I let it soothe me and fill up the great wound where my love for Sunshine had once been, and turn my rising grief into anger, and my rising anger into murderous intent. “Lulu,” I said menacingly, my eyes dripping despair, “find this creature and bring her to me in one piece, mind you.  I know what she did to your father, so we will both take our vengeance upon her together.  Samantha when Lulu locates her bring her here quickly for she will be protected by some power no doubt and we must careful.   The Leopard Society must think that I am about to come after them, so Shawn go reassure the Elders there will be no problems if they turn over the leopard who did this, I have questions to ask him too. Bring them both here and I will use my renewed strength to take us somewhere very private.  Now take me to my beloved, or whatever remains of her, I must say goodbye.”  Everyone scrambled to take care of their various tasks, while Samantha shifted me to the alleyway where Sunshine had been ambushed and lost her life.  I asked Samantha to shift a wreath of white Chrysanthemums to me which by investing a small amount of power into them, would never die and would always be in bloom.  I knelt on the pavement and placed the wreath on the spot where only a splash of blood remained to mark her passing.  “Goodbye my love,” I whispered, “forgive me, but I am going to kill a lot of people for doing this to you.  You deserved better, rest in peace.”  I stood up and walked back to Samantha who immediately folded me in its arms and shifted me back to the apartment, so I could await my righteous revenge.  But what I could not know was that Sunshine’s death had already served its purpose for those who had commanded her death and though I was unaware of it, the power within me had already begun to multiply.  It was now far beyond the levels at which it had previously been before I had stopped feeding it and was it growing quickly.  Soon it would need to be expressed or it would devour me.  But even though I was oblivious to the rising danger within me I was still adamant that I would not leave this place, but soon events would take place which would change me, and as a result, this would greatly affect the balance, and I would have no choice but to leave.

17

 Revelation

        A little-known fact about the Art of Torture is that it is not the physical pain which the prisoner suffers that achieves the desired results, but instead it is the mental aspect of the art which is in fact the most effective part.  The anticipation of the blessed pain to come is a powerful tool, since the mind itself is capable of envisioning and creating greater horrors and scenarios than the artist is physically capable of inflicting upon them.  The horrors the prisoner believes he or she is about to experience begins as a small bundle of possibility, of great and mind-altering pain that is only enhanced by the hope that he or she holds onto for the simple reason that the artist has not yet begun to ply his or her skills upon the prisoner yet, but simply talks to them.  But of course, the prisoner knows that this hope is false, yet he or she still holds onto this flimsy thread, a line thrown to a drowning man.  But you see this cannot be, for the artist cannot be certain that the truth has been revealed without taking the prisoner on a long journey of pain and mental anguish, pushing the prisoner to the limits of sensation and letting him or her taste the grave.  In the end, it must always come down to this:  A great deal of pain to be inflicted and of course, absolutely no mercy.   The whereabouts of the Quandisa were easily found and it was not until later that I would come to realize that she was not actually hiding from me, that she had been in fact waiting for me.  Lulu found her with her trademark efficiency and despite being a Goddess, albeit a fallen one, Lulu took the opportunity to have a little fun of her own with the creature, brutalizing her in own way, using the powers granted her by her Gods for this very purpose.  For the Spirit Lubaniba who was within Lulu had also recognized the Quandisa and relished the opportunity for vengeance.  Against my specific orders, Lulu took her to a place that I had not been aware that she had created, a small pocket dimension similar to the one where the Nephilim and I had trained together and bound her with metaphysical chains strong enough to hold a Goddess and sat down to have a chat. Through it all the Goddess of Lust had only smiled indulgently as if she were dealing with a child, which only infuriated Lulu worse, the torture rapidly becoming a not very artistic expression of the torturer’s art.

“You don’t remember me, do you?”  Lulu said coldly as she took a break, “I am the daughter of the great king who you ruined.”

“Which great king would that be?  You know there were quite a few over the years.”  She giggled as she spoke which further enraged Lulu, who lashed out at her with a serpentine power which reared and struck repeatedly causing the fallen Goddess to violently convulse.  “Not so flippant, now are we?”  Lulu turned away from the creature, breathing heavily, her own emotions getting the better of her.  But this was her father’s betrayer and the cause of the fall the Kongo Empire.  So why did she feel sympathy for this broken creature, why did she feel a kinship with her when she should feel nothing but hate?  The Quandisa recovered and floated upright and with her eyes she beckoned to Lulu.  “Mbilia,” she said, “Oh yes, I remember you and your father who was indeed a great king.  But more importantly I remember the lash and the whip, which was applied to me by one who has the power to compel me.  I am a Goddess of Lust, what do I care about Gods and kingdoms?  Even the Orishas themselves experience lust, so my place in the cosmos is assured.  Granted in this prudish era of hypocritical morality and false sensibilities, I am no longer worshipped openly, but it matters not because when men take male enhancement pills, or women augment their breasts or backsides is it not so that lust can be ultimately expressed?  Am I not still being worshipped, only through a different medium?  I did not ruin your father or the Kongo Empire because I am evil; I tempted your father in the one way in which all men are ultimately vulnerable, because I was compelled to.   The torture you inflict upon me is nothing when faced with the prospect of oblivion after tens of thousands of years of existence.  I am not yet ready to die, so do your worst.”

“What are you talking about?  You are a Goddess, you cannot die, only go into stasis.”

“That was once true, but I challenge you to try and ask all the other Gods that he has thrown down, and you will get no answers, for they are silent because they are no more.”

“Who is this being?”

“The God who commands me.”

“Who commands you?”

“The Interloper.”

Lulu sucked in a breath at the mention of that name and a deep rage and hatred originating not just from herself but from deep within her boiled as the Gods of Kongo stirred at the name.

“Why are you here, Quandisa?”

“Ah, for me to answer that question I think you had best deliver me to Alade.”

“Why? And how do you know his true name?”

“I know everything about him.  What he thinks he is trying to achieve for the balance is a lie.  I am not his enemy.”

“You lie!  It was you and your seduction that pushed the leopard to kill Sunshine.  Lucius is going to rip you apart Goddess or not, and I am going to enjoy watching every minute of it.”

“I did not seduce the leopard into doing it, on the contrary I was sent to prevent this very thing from happening.”

“What do you mean by that?  Stop talking in riddles before I remove a body part.”

“It means your playtime with me will have to wait.  You must take me to Alade.”

 Lulu looked at the Goddess carefully, and despite the rage of the Gods inside her she forced herself to calm down and look at the facts.  Knowing that she was facing her doom it would be natural for the Quandisa to say or do anything to prevent it, but this?  Lulu had never been good at torture; that was more Lucius’s field of interest.  There was much more to this story, and she owed it to Lucius to let him be the judge of this.  They could always play with her later.  Finally resolved to her plan of action, she released the Goddess and stood in front of her and spoke.

“I see now that you allowed me to capture you and you endured my ministrations so that you could gain access to Lucius.  You will get your access, but I swear to you if it is some ploy to squirm out of your crimes you will suffer unimaginable pain and believe me, Lucius will help me.  Just remember he will be reborn as the Destroyer someday.  Think about the implications.  One more thing, Quandisa, what does the Interloper want with Lucius?”

“It is quite simple.  He wants to be his friend.”

       “I feel the need to hurt someone in a very insidious and twisted manner and here you are delivering one of my enemies into my hands and you want me to wait before getting satisfaction, to give this creature more time while Sunshine has none?  Impossible!  Give her to me now, for I would teach her the true art of seduction!  Quandisa, I will seduce your every nerve and fiber into a state of blessed pain so profound that you will feel that you have transcended Godhood.  Yes, I will take you to the heights so that I can tear you back down to the ground and crush your every sentiment beneath the avalanche of horror which I will inflict upon you.  And since you are a Goddess, and I am also immortal, I will be able to play with you for eternity.  Now stop fucking around Lulu, and give her to me before I get angry.”  Lulu had the Goddess of Lust in a protective cocoon, shielding her from my power, and if I wanted to force the issue it would mean extending my own growing powers and perhaps hurting Lulu in the process, which I did not want to do.  This infuriating stubbornness of hers was going to get her killed if she was not careful, so I took a step back and pondered the situation.  Lulu, stood here protecting the creature which betrayed her beloved father and ultimately caused the downfall of her people and Gods, protecting her like a she-bear protecting her cub.  And despite my growing rage, I had to question why.  Lulu was my friend; she and I had shared our secrets with each other and were bound in the same way by our own service to our respective Gods.  I took a deep breath and sat down, saying “Okay Lulu, you win.  I have plenty of time to punish her later.  What is going on?”

“Well, my friend, I think we have a problem.”

“Why?  What’s going on?”

“I think I will let her tell you.”

The Goddess glided to the chair opposite me and sat down, obviously wary of the rising power levels in me which seemed to be increasing exponentially since the murder of Sunshine.  I was leaking power everywhere, from my eyes, from my mouth as I spoke, and even my form had begun to change as I went from an athletic well-defined shape, to a larger, bulkier, more densely muscled form which had I been paying attention, would have shocked me to the core.  My eyes glowed constantly with bright green light, and I could no more pass for human now than an eagle could.   I fixed those eyes upon the Goddess and watched with satisfaction as she flinched in pain from the power she saw there, and bade her speak.  “Know this Quandisa, I will hold you responsible for the words that you speak no matter what their source or for whom you are delivering them.  The pain I feel because of Sunshine’s death is unbearable, and because of it soon this power in me will consume me.  If I do not have vengeance soon, then when I am reborn as the Destroyer, what do you think will happen, mmm?  Give me something good, my dear or I will give you oblivion, for I too, can destroy Gods now.”  Both Lulu and the Quandisa were taken aback by that last statement, but nevertheless, the Goddess of Lust took a deep breath, faced me and began to speak.  “You know what she put inside you, your Yemoja, but you do not understand why.  She has told you that it is to create a weapon that will restore the balance by destroying the Interloper, but that is not true.  The Interloper also serves the balance by a direct mandate of the One God, as do the Orishas.  Who is right I ask?  I am minor Goddess and my place in the cosmos is different than those of these great powers, but I am enough of a Goddess to know that the One God is never wrong, so if there are two mandates then there must be a reason.  Also, I witnessed personally, the arrival of one aspect of the One God and saw the Interloper kneel to it and call it Lord.  What does it mean?  How should I know, but I do know this; I was sent to prevent your transformation in the Destroyer, not precipitate it by killing Sunshine as you can see it is doing.  But that is not all Alade.  You should know that because Yemoja cannot see into this place you have taken as your own, she has sent in agents to keep tabs on her weapon.  For you see, when your power blossoms she plans on ripping it from you and taking it for herself.  There was never to be a happily ever after for you because she sees you as nothing more than a tool.  And as for Sunshine, have you not wondered how a leopard got the best of a hyena as powerful as her?  Her natural powers were augmented by her betrothal to you; your bonds caused your strength to flow into her.  So how could a low-level Leopard beat her and devour her alone?  Because he had help, that’s why, God level help.  He was your Goddess’ agent with power granted him by her, and you cannot find him now because he has fled to her protection.”

I found my senses reeling, for all things she was saying rang true and I felt my very essence falling apart, fragmenting as my power began the multiply in response.  With a great effort, I got myself under control, and looked at her.  “Why?” I said.  “Why would Yemoja betray me?  If this is what she wanted she could have simply told me to make the necessary, sacrifice.  Why did Sunshine have to die?”

“Sunshine died because your love for her caused the darkness to recede and you forsook your task for her.  Your precious Goddess for whom you have sacrificed so much had her slaughtered to get you back on track.  She took her away from you Alade, as easily as plucking a flower.  And in the end no matter how much you protest she will still rip the power from you and leave you cored.  This is your destiny; this is how you truly fall.”

I had not heard her last words, for the moment she had told me that it was Yemoja who was responsible for Sunshine’s death I had lost all control, the expanding power in me became unbound and quietly consumed me.  I looked up sadly at Lulu as the darkness enveloped me, and using the last remnant of my consciousness I opened the pocket dimension where I had killed Lo and threw myself in it before my power detonated and killed my friends.  Just before I sealed it off, I sent out one last thought to Lulu and the Quandisa.  “Don’t hurt her Mbilia,” I said, “I need her.  Quandisa, tell your master I will come and visit him soon, if I survive this.”  And then every fiber of my being exploded, and I learned the true meaning of pain.

Alade, Chapter 14: Treachery

14

Treachery

        In the present, I woke up from my reverie at the slightest touch of Sunshine’s lips brushing against my own, and opened my eyes to stare into her sparkling eyes which affected me in a way which I had never felt in all my years.  It was obvious that I was in love with the Kpelekpe, and strange as it may have seen to others, to me it was the most natural thing in the world.  “Hello, my love,” I whispered to her as she slid into my lap, “How long have I been asleep?”

“Not too long,” she said while gyrating scandalously in my lap and nibbling my neck.  “You needed the rest, so I let you sleep.”

“Thanks, gorgeous.  What about Lulu, is she feeling better?”

“Well she is back to her old cantankerous ways, if that is what you mean.  She also talked to the Leopard Society; they are ready to talk.”

“Really?  That is good news, very good news.  Some very strange things have come to light, my love.  I will have to sit down and talk to you about my misgivings sometime soon.”

“We have some time now to talk, that is unless you want to do something a little bit more energetic?”

“Woman you are insatiable!  Okay, I guess we have time now, to talk that is, you succubus.”

“So speak, but just remember you owe me some nookie.”

“Well that is a debt I will very happy to pay.  Okay where do I start?  Since my life took the turn it did and since I was confronted by the involvement of Yemoja and Esu, I have had a nagging suspicion that I was missing something.  My memories had become twisted and corrupted because of the long years in which I tried to purge myself of my past, yet when Lulu told me her story I found that there were many parallels to my own at least from a theological standpoint.  It is not my place to tell you her story; that is for her to do but I will say that there is a deeper game being played by beings greater than our Orishas. But why they have chosen to take a hand in such things is beyond me.  It is beneath them.”

“What do you mean by ‘beings greater than our Orishas’?  There are no beings greater than the Orishas, unless of course you mean– oh shit.  You are talking about the One?  It is above such concerns, which is why the Irunmoles were originally created for, to run the cosmos for it.”

“I know my theology too, Sunshine but I am telling you what I not only feel, but what more and more evidence is pointing to.  Esu is not the God of Chaos; that is only how we have chosen to see him or perhaps how he has wanted us to see him.   He is something far greater than that.  And he has been taking a direct hand in a celestial drama that has been unfolding from the very beginning, and the Gods, all of them mind you, have been his puppets.”

“Well if he is not the God of Chaos then what is he?”

“Lulu’s people, the Bakongo, believe as much as we do in One God, a being they call Nzambi.  Lulu explained this to me.  But unlike us they have a specific name for the other half of Nzambi, the part that is the Anti-Creator.  It is called Lungombe and it is one in being with Nzambi, inseparable and opposite like the concepts of Ying and Yang.  I believe we have the same concept in our pantheon, for Nzambi is another name for Oludumare and that means that means that Lungombe is actually the God of Chaos.”

“I don’t know Lucius that seems a bit of a stretch.”

“Throughout my long life I have been manipulated by the Gods, and I had accepted this.  But these last few years have shown me something else that the Gods themselves are not really in control of anything, they are being manipulated by another force greater than them.  Until I heard Lulu’s story I had not thought about the possibility, but just now I retrieved memories which I had thought lost forever and there buried in my past I found the answers to questions that I did not want to answer.  The final piece was to puzzle was Nana Buukun and what she had shown me so long ago, revealing the great lie that my people had been led to believe.  I no longer know what exactly the One God is, for Nana Buukun is also something much greater than a simple Orisha.  My vision has shown me that she is also a part of the Creator, and that makes the One God a Triple Being.  It is very disturbing to me and so for this reason my love I am done.  I will not build this weapon for Yemoja any longer, I will not accept this bondage and I will not do something that will so affect the balance until I have answers.”

 Sunshine examined me, a little alarmed by my open act of defiance to the Gods.  “What is your plan, beloved?” she whispered in my ear.

“First, I intend to make love to you, and then I intend to end this war with the Leopard Society.  It was only my need for large amounts of dark energy to feed the weapon that I started it in the first place.  But I was wrong; we don’t need to return to the normal world and why should we, when we can build our right here?  We all hunger for atonement, for freedom from fear, and despair, so we will make that happen right here where the meddling Gods cannot see into, nor can they harm us except through their agents, who if we play this right will most certainly join us.  I am tired of serving the Gods; it is time for me to serve the balance directly, for this is the way to atonement and to freedom not through bondage to Gods who have deceived us.  I cannot do it anymore.  I will not do it anymore.”  I took a deep breath and stopped speaking just as Sunshine moved her face close to mine and said, “What was that you said about making love to me?”

       The seven Leopard Society Elders were elated, and the normally staid and stoic individuals were openly smiling.   We had ceased our hostilities and come to a mutually satisfactory agreement in which we shared power, territory and profits, because after all we needed money too.  The idea was that since this part of Georgia Avenue existed in a pocket of reality we would create an essentially free state where all supernaturals could come and be at peace, away from the pettiness of the Gods and their wars.  It seemed to me that the darkness in me began to recede just a little, and when I saw Samantha walking openly outside of her apartment for the first time, I knew that I had done a good thing.  But I was still a thoroughly corrupted creature and I still had my needs so from time to time Sunshine and I would take mini vacations for a few days and go off and slaughter and devour a few evil men and women for our own pleasure and sustenance.  The year quickly came to an end and the next year was upon us just as quickly, and before I realized it another four years had gone by.  Lulu had given the Leopards the spell to replenish their ranks and now they acted as the police officers of our little state, while my little group and representatives from the many supernatural races who resided here made up the ruling council.  Shawn had shown himself to be surprisingly adept at administration and in magical matters Lulu had no peer, so I found that Sunshine and I had more and more time to revel in each other’s company, and our love for each other grew deeper and deeper each day.  With her every caress, I could feel my veil of despair lifting just a little, I could see my life laid out in front of me, a life that was inseparable from her and our love.  Four years after ending the war I asked Sunshine to marry me, and she said yes.

       The Quandisa watched Alade as he frolicked with his mate, the Kpelekpe and knew that if she attempted to seduce him she would fail in her mandate.   This one was beyond her powers and she silently saluted the Kpelekpe for capturing his heart.  As a Goddess of Lust, love was not offensive to her, in fact it was the greatest pathway to her gates, but the lust she wanted to inspire in Alade was to have been for her so that she could spur him to his purpose, and ultimately bring him to the Interloper.  But now she would have to change tactics.  The amnesty offered to all supernaturals in this pocket realm had given her the opportunity to enter as many others had, and though most were genuine refugees, she was positive that more than one God had sent agents to find out what was going on in this place into which they could not see.  The war with the Interloper was at a standstill and they needed the weapon to tip the balance, but instead, what did Alade do?  He rejected his destiny and the darkness had receded from him and the weapon had not been born.  He still had power, great power from all the slaughter he had consumed but the weapon was so much more than he imagined.  What she needed was a trigger something to push him not only back into the darkness, but to send him voluntarily into the Abyss, where he would rise again, reborn as the Destroyer.  Then she could approach him and feed him the lies she had prepared and he would come with her to the Interloper and she would be rewarded.  She knew that she was overstepping her orders from the Interloper, for in actuality the Interloper would have been content with the status quo, with Alade’s rejection of his destiny.  There was no need to force his rebirth, but the Goddess of Lust in her desperation to free herself from her own bondage was about to set the stage for a transformation which would forever change the cosmos, and she was completely ignorant of the chain of events that her actions would trigger.  The Quandisa watched the faces in the room as they had made the announcement of their engagement, looking for a tool she could use, and in the face of a handsome leopard man she found it.  For as they announced their engagement his face had not lit up in happiness for the couple, it had darkened with rage and jealousy that he could barely contain.  This was the tool she was looking for and she would use it well.  She walked over to the man and casually stood close to him allowing her scent and more importantly, her power to wash over him before saying in a soft voice, “All the blood they shed, and they get to live happily ever after.  It doesn’t seem right does it?”  He looked at her, startled that she was talking to him, and stammered a reply.  “Yes,” he said speaking before thinking, “My own mate lies dead because of their murderous war and now I am forced to celebrate their joy.  How many leopards did they eat?  Pah!”  He spat angrily on the ground.  Realizing now what he had just said, he turned to her and noticed with relief that she was an attractive woman and a seemingly sympathetic stranger, and this calmed him down somewhat, so he offered her his hand.  “My name is Kilenga, what is your name?”  Knowing that she had hooked him she took his hand, smiled her brightest smile and stepped close to him saying, “Hello, my name is Seku.”

         Yemoja was pacing furiously in her temple as dark rivulets of power were leaking from her form as she looked out from the Refuge to the one place on Earth where the Gods could not see and cursed herself for a fool.  Alade had always been stubborn, why had she believed that he would be cowed by her anger?  And at a time when she least could afford to punish him and risk harming him she was being forced to wait and see if the goal been achieved.  Even her faithful leopards seemed to have abandoned her, as she had heard no word from them as to the situation inside.  She only knew that Alade had pledged to forgo building the weapon and that he had found love in that dark place.  No one could have predicted that, certainly not Orunmila, the absentee Witness of Fate who seemed to have disappeared.  Perhaps he too had fallen into stasis.  She felt a presence near her and spun quickly to find Esu standing behind her smiling.  “Hello, my favorite Goddess!” he said jovially, “still having problems procuring your weapon?” 

“What do you know of this Esu?  Is this your doing?”

“No, my dear, it is your doing.  What did you think was going to happen when you sent him there without adequate supervision?  He knows you can’t go there and has subverted all your agents.  Right now, he is preparing to marry the Kpelekpe.  Do you really believe that he is going to leave her so that he can allow you to core him completely when you rip the weapon from him?  I don’t think he realizes your true intentions yet, but it is only a matter of time before he does.  Anyway, he seems to have already made his choice.”

“Did you come here to gloat?”

“No, I came here to put you at ease.  I told you I serve the balance; I am part of the balance that is why I came to you so long ago.   Alade will become the weapon that you desire, Yemoja have no fear; in fact, he will become more than the weapon because this love of his has made him vulnerable.”

“What do you mean, Esu?”

“I mean woe betide the world if anything bad should happen to Sunshine.”  Yemoja was startled awake by that comment and she looked at Esu and smiled knowingly, bowing with respect to the God.  “How will it happen?” she asked quietly.

“Don’t worry,” he said, his eyes blazing with power, “I have it under control.  I have always had it under control.”

       The Interloper sat upon his throne frustrated and angry that he could not see what was going on the place where the weapon was and though he had periodical reports, he wondered how it was possible that such a place existed beyond the ken of the Gods.  “Because of the need for balance, Interloper,” Esu said materializing in front of him and answered the question he was pondering in his mind, “Everything must have balance and this place was created in counterpoint to your tyranny, you and the other Gods.  It is not within any of your powers to penetrate it.”

“And you my Lord, can you see into it?”

“Yes, but I respect the balance, so I do not act upon what I see there.”

“I see.  You are here about the Quandisa I assume?  Well she is not here, I know not where she is, and she does not answer my calls, which is odd.”

“That is because she cannot hear you.”

“What do you mean, my Lord?”

“I mean that she is doing what she is supposed to, what you told her to.  Even as we speak, she is planning some treachery that should have some very interesting effects on things in that place.”

“Treachery, Is that so? That is not exactly what I commanded her to do?  And the weapon?  Has he bloomed yet?”

“Not yet, but I anticipate his rebirth very soon.  Prepare yourself, for he will have questions for you, if he doesn’t simply destroy you.”

“Destroy me?  Why would he do that, I am not his enemy? He will be that powerful?”

“Yes.  Even more than you can imagine.”

“And what would you have me do Lord Esu when he comes?  Stretch out my neck and let him take my head?”

“Of course not.”

“Then what?”

“Talk to him.  Tell him the truth of the Gods’ War.  Be his friend.”

“His friend?”

“Yes, his friend.”

“I am the Interloper, I have no friends.  I do not even understand the concept.”

“Well you had better learn quickly, because I am warning you that when he comes if you are not his friend, then you will be his enemy.  Remember that he will be called the Destroyer.  See to it that he loves you like a brother, and you will survive.”

“And what of the other Gods, and what of the Orishas?  Will they be his friend too?”

“Only some of them.”

“And the rest?”

“He will destroy them.”

“Then I will be his friend.”

“A wise choice, Interloper for you too are becoming something other than what you are now.”

“What do you mean my Lord?”

“It means that you will soon be his match.”

“I thought you said he could destroy me.  Why can’t you speak frankly?”

“For now, he can destroy you because you do not yet have your future strength, but very soon you will.  Things are changing in this universe Interloper, and soon I must leave this plane.  You and your counterparts will be tasked to maintain this cosmos.”

“I do not understand, Lord Esu.  My counterparts?  Future strength?  You are speaking in riddles.”

“So instead of whining, try to solve them then.  You will understand in time, but for now obey me.”

“As you wish, my Lord”

 

        Lubaniba, the Spirit who sparks communication between the Veils of the world, was able to see what was going on in Alade’s fledging nation of supernaturals because it was already inside of Alade’s boundaries.  It was trapped inside Lulu, so Lubaniba was able to eavesdrop on events occurring in this world, and due to some quirk from the effect of the power Lungombe had given it, it could see into the realms of the other Gods and eavesdrop on their conversations.  It watched as Lungombe visited both Yemoja and the Interloper and was astounded at the differences in attitudes each of those two Gods had toward it.  Yemoja seem to have respect but also a certain amount of disdain for the One God while the Interloper, showed it nothing but respect.  While its siblings slumbered around him, gathering power and waiting for the right time to reemerge, Lubaniba began to consider what would happen if this weapon chose not to serve any Gods or any balance, but instead chose to serve himself.  The power that he represented would change everything.  He would make many powerful enemies.  Perhaps, it thought, in such a climate if one approached him carefully and in friendship an alliance could be struck.  The situation bore watching.  But until the weapon was reborn there was nothing to be concerned about.  Besides, it did not seem as if that was going to happen now that he was in love.  The darkness needed for the weapon to be reborn was anathema to love and he would not sacrifice his Kpelekpe for any amount of power that much was evident.