“The Òrìṣàs are here, Leke”, a shaky female voice whispered in the darkness.
The flashes of lightning that were partly obscured by the rainless clouds now flashed wildly and crackled violently, amidst the deafening rumble of thunder.
Another bout of thunder rumbled, and the voice broke into a squeal.
“It is nothing”, a male voice retorted, calmly. “Calm down, Kíké. It is just a rainstorm about to happen.”
After a few clicking sounds, a fairly bright light lit the room, bringing its features into view. It was dusty with haphazardly arranged furniture. The walls were splattered with splotches of deep red with admixed strokes of black lines and motifs of black circles. The only table with four legs intact in the room was by the window, next to a shelf lying on its side. The two figures hid under it. The female figure curled tightly into its safety. The male, on the other hand, motioned to crawl out into the open.
“Does it look like it will rain anytime soon? There is no wind either. This is definitely out of the ordinary.” She muttered.
Leke cast a glance at her. Her eyes were staring into space, almost protruding out of their sockets. Her heaving chest squeezed against the fabric of her loose clothing. For the first time since he knew her, Kike was visibly mortified. He turned away before the sight of her eroded the act of bravery he still had on.
He was just as scared. And she was right. This was something out of the ordinary.
His mind flashed back to the events that transpired two days ago. In passionate defiance and curiosity, he and Kike had decided to take a hike to the forbidden mansion nestled in the mountains of Adọ̀ against all odds. In their words, they wanted to “disprove the superstition and unfounded myths about the ‘haunted’ mansion for a “research” they had to work on.” Their third, Sola, had tried to talk them out of the idea but all his pleas fell on deaf ears.
Leke could picture his friend’s sorry face as he and Kike laughed at him, labeling him a “coward” and a “drawback” in the progress of science. Judging from the turn of events, he had realized upon reflection that Sola’s sorry look wasn’t out of remorse. It was out of pity.
They had lied too. There was no research. They had come here as a test of courage.
A chill ran down his spine as he stole another glance at the bizarrely-shaped artifact he had earlier tossed away. The one thing that had set this impending catastrophe into motion. A transient rush of lust had plunged them into this mess. Why did he, for the love of God, think that it would be a good idea to stuff it in his bag?
A shrill cry pulled him out of his thoughts. He jerked in the direction it came from. It was Kike’s. His eyes met hers. She was pointing out the window and into the distance, tears streaming down her cheeks. Slowly, he turned in the direction of her trembling hand.What now?The flashes of lightning that ran haywire across the skies had begun to coalesce, striking a spot a few yards in front of the mansion. From the terrible, electrifying sight, the figure of a man emerged.
He was clad in red traditional war gear adorned with cowries and beads that tightly hugged his tall, muscly ebony figure. Braided locks of beaded hair hung down his neck and strips of red cloth were strapped around his biceps. A small axe hung loosely down his left hand.
No way, he muttered.
This couldn’t be real.
His heart skipped a beat as his mind hovered over his biggest fear. There was no other explanation for the otherworldly sight that had just burned into his retinas.
It was the thunder god, Sàngó.
Another chill ran down his spine.
One of the Òrìṣàs was the last thing he expected. And if the folklore he found silly was anything to go by, this was the worst possible situation. Sango was a volatile ball of bubbling, unadulterated rage; his anger rivalled only by one of the other Òrìṣàs – Ògún. Slowly, he slid away from the window, mortified.The air became denser. His lungs felt like they were being pulled down by weights. He struggled to breathe.
A crashing sound made him jolt and squeal. Kike had fainted, and her limp body had crashed into the shelf. A streak of blood trickled down her temple and hit the dusty floor, staining it with a tinge of red. As he motioned to secure her head from further injury, a chill aura hit him – hard. It was intense, with bloodthirst and violence at its very core. There was a presence behind him – and he knew it.
“Mortal.” Sango called. His voice was gritty and piercing. It stung Leke’s ears. His head throbbed and felt like it was about to burst. He felt like screaming, but the dense aura robbed him of words. He was too busy gasping for breath. Sàngó stared intently at him. His blazing, bloodthirsty eyes met Leke’s, and the latter recoiled in fear.
“You have got some nerve, stepping into this room. What business have you here?”
There was no response.
“Speak!” He bellowed, and the whole building shook to the core. His gaze darted across the room and came to rest on the artifact that Leke had thrown away.
“Aha. That is what this is about.”
Sàngó laughed for a moment before assuming a serious expression. Crackles of lightning surged through the air around him and his black locks combusted, burning with an ethereal flame. He continued.
“The one thing I detest more than cowards are thieves. And you are both. You will be a lesson to those who come after you. To those who take our existence with levity and waddle their way into sacred grounds to disprove phenomena they do not understand.”
Leke watched in terror as Sango swung his left arm in one swift motion, his axe cutting through the air, ready for an impending bloodbath. His life flashed before his eyes. Of all the ways, he did not think he would go out in the hands of something he had mocked as silly and persecuted others for.
Save me. Anybody. Give me a second chance, He muttered. Or so he thought.
The words weren’t forthcoming.
With a wry smile, Sàngó brought down his axe with a powerful swing. It came down with full force, swooshing with bloodlust.
A rattle echoed down the hallway, and everywhere went quiet. Sàngó furrowed his brows in confusion. His axe had stopped just before it cut through the boy’s neck, whose body now froze solid. As well as every other thing around him.
Time had stopped.
It could only be one person.
In no time, a figure clad in white stepped into the room. His headgear, a white band of cloth, held his white locks of beaded hair firmly behind his neck. Rays of light from his shimmering golden breastplate, adorned with white cowries at their edges, hit Sàngó’s eyes. His staff rattled and neck beads jingled as he slowly approached Sàngó.
“Sàngó. What are you doing here?” The figure asked. He had an aura of white, warm brilliance around him. It lit up his own side of the room.
“Ọbàtálá. I should be asking you the same question.”
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