Legacy Of The Gods Book II: Heart Of Igboju
After landing on the hard floor of the blackened dungeon, Billie could only gasp in deep pain as she lay stunned for a moment. Despair entered her heart as she thought back on what she and her friends went through to find the powerful Madame Brigitte. Was this how it was going to end? To be completely destroyed by the very person they were setting their hopes on? The person who was the only one who could give them a chance in defeating Shigidi? It was hopeless, all of it. How could she have been so blind and foolish?
She couldn’t help a tear falling down her dark cheeks as she struggled to pick her head up. All of this...for nothing. So discouraged was she that she didn’t even see Brigitte raise her arm once more, the glowing and hot red whip ready to rip her apart. Too late did she finally manage to raise her head and see the danger coming….but she was filled with so much discouragement that she could barely bring herself to move. What did it matter? They had failed, and everything she loved back home would be destroyed...and it was her fault.
A sad sob escaped her full lips as she watched the red whip falling down towards her, its heat making the air around it shimmer like in a desert. But suddenly...just as she was thinking it was the end, she felt her body being picked up by a pair of strong arms and whisked away. Barely a second later, the spot where she was just lying in exploded with pieces of the ground flying everywhere and smoke rising. In a daze, Billie felt herself being carefully stood on her feet. When the smoke cleared a second or two later, she looked up to see Dante looking down on her in concern, his arm still around her shoulder.
“Billie, are you okay? Didn’t you hear me warning you?” he asked, placing a hand on her cheek.
In the background, the dark-skinned girl could hear Keisha and the others scrambling out of the way of the maddened goddess as she prepared to strike again. But it was as if it was all in a haze. What could they possibly do now? Madame Brigitte was too strong and she was not in a state to listen to reason.
She looked up into Dante’s eyes and shook her head, letting the tears flow freely now. “It’s...it’s hopeless Dante, we don’t have a chance. She won’t listen to us, and Shigidi...he’ll...he’ll….” She sobbed again and rushed into the boys strong arms, her body trembling.
Dante held her for just a moment before leaning her away and placing a hand under her chin. He lifted her face up to meet his eyes and gently wiped away her tears with his other hand. “No Billie, it’s not hopeless. I believe in you, and I believe with your help, we can get through to Brigitte. We can’t give up now Billie, not after everything we’ve been through. Please. We have to do this. We can’t give up. I won’t let you give up.”
Billie’s dark eyes widened at those words, feeling the emotional depth behind them. Looking in his eyes, Billie could see Dante’s deep concern….and dare she admit it?...love for her. There was no denying it. Her body still trembling, she turned her eyes to see Hazelynn, Keisha, and all the others doing their best to stay out of the way of the goddess’s rage. She saw how desperately they wanted to use their powers, but even they knew that it could be futile and the goddess their only hope.
She looked back at Dante, but before she could say anything else, the dark-skinned boy leaned down and gave a very quick kiss on her lips, a move that even surprised himself. Billie stared at him, stunned for what seemed like an eternity. Finally Dante shook himself out of the stupor with a slight blush on his cheeks and quickly grasped her hand. Oh how he would have loved for that moment to last, but there was a much more important thing to deal with right now. He pressed his lips together as he turned back to the fighting before them. “Come on, we have to help our friends. They might not last much longer,”
Resolve began to slowly flow back into Billie’s heart as she looked up at the taller boy. Yes, there could still be a chance. There is always a chance, and with Dante beside her, she could do anything. In fact, with ALL her other friends, she could do anything. She turned and saw how hard they were fighting along side the other gods, dodging the goddess’s power and watching each other’s backs. It was then she realized and knew….if they can find hope and fight on, then so could she!
Setting a determined look on her face, she nodded at Dante and squeezed his hand, still clasped in hers. “Okay,” she whispered, feeling the hope and confidence grow in her. Together they walked forward, refusing to let the fear overcome them.
Meanwhile, Maybelle had just back flipped out of the way of the flying, deadly red whip and landed confidently beside Ayao, her hands clenched in fists as she anticipated the next strike of the goddess. “Careful, princess,” the goddess of the skies cautioned her, “I feel that she is not using her full potential yet. We must be watchful.”
The Jamaican girl nodded as she went into a fighting stance, her eyes narrowed. Aja stepped up before them, her arms held out as a sign of surrender as she warily watched her one-time close friend raise her arm once more.
“Brigitte, stop!” The huntress goddess begged, standing protectively before the two. Behind them, the others gathered together, ready for anything. “Please, we’re not your enemies! We were looking for you, we need your help to….”
“Lies!” the ghost goddess screamed out, stepping forward menacingly. “You took my love away from me, you destroyed him for nothing! And now you want to destroy me!” Her pitch-black eyes were as deep and fathomless as ever, yet filled with so much pain and confusion it would have broken anyone’s heart to see it.
“No, that’s not true!” Oshunmare was right beside her, his rainbow-colored eyes swirling with all the colors in his desperation. “I know how much you loved Samedi, we all do.” The rainbow god reached out a hand to her. “We were so close, you and I, working together to bring peace and rest to the mortals, both in life and when they passed on. I know you, and I know the pain you are going through. But you must understand how the rage and hate grew in Samedi, how he had to be stopped before he destroyed everything we the Orisha worked so hard to protect and maintain. It was not just the mortal realm that was at stake, but ours as well! You must think back and remember!”
The goddess’s arm stopped in mid-air and she stared at the handsome Oshunmare, doubt and confusion flickering in her eyes. Flashes of memories flowed through her mind as she just started to recall how much her beloved Samedi had changed just before she was sent to hide away by him.
She saw in images how angry he became at the mortals, how disgusted he was at the other Orisha for catering to them, as he often complained. With a tiny gasp, she recalled how she tried to reason with him and his anger against the humans, but instead he only screamed at her. She saw how over time his handsomeness slowly began to fade because of his hatred and bitterness. Could it be? Did his anger really overtake him so?
But the confusion and anger came back into her quickly once more before she could think on it, and shaking her head to snap out of it, she clenched her fist and willed her whip to spark back into existence. “No! It can’t be! Samedi loved me and was only trying to make the mortals see their place! Shigidi told me everything! You’re lying...you’re LYING!” She raised her arm higher and prepared to strike….but just then, a young voice filled the area, making her stop in her tracks.
“Stop!” yelled out Billie, stepping pass all the others and standing before the tall, imposing goddess. Her arms spread out defensively, Billie stood before all her friends and the gods, doing her best not to show fear. “You know how I am. I won’t let you hurt my friends!” Tense moments passed as she and the goddess stared down one another. Finally, Brigitte slowly lowered her arm, blinking her eyes.
“You...you would put yourself in harm’s way for them?” the ghost goddess asked in wonder, tilting her head.
Billie nodded her head without hesitation, standing her ground. “They’re my friends, and I would do anything to protect them, even if it means my life. I won’t let any harm come to them. They’re...everything to me.” She looked back on them for a moment before facing Brigitte again.
The doubt returned in Brigitte’s heart as her eyes looked to all the others. “But...I thought..I...he said...he told me...” She wobbled a bit as she stepped back and held her head in her hands. “I don’t understand. Oh Samedi, how could this have happened….” She moaned as she struggled to stay standing.
“Brigitte,” As the others looked on, Billie rushed over to her, steadying her. “What Oshunmare said is true. We had no choice but to protect our city, to make sure that our family and our people were safe. Samedi didn’t want that. He wanted to destroy us and we had to stop him,”
“But he’s not completely destroyed, that’s what we were trying to tell you,” Aja was suddenly standing before them and laid a hand on Brigitte’s shoulder. “No god is truly ever destroyed, and there is always a way for Samedi to heal and come back. You know this. But Shigidi...he is the one who lied to you. He used your pain and frustration to try and use you against us.” The nature goddess nodded, hoping her words would get through.
Brigitte shook her head more, feeling as though her mind was processing a million things at once. Could she have been wrong? Certainly they didn’t seem like the blood-thirsty killers of her husband as Shigidi had said. And Samedi...how could she have been such a fool to not try and stop him when she clearly saw the anger and madness growing in him? How could she have just watched?
Suddenly, it was though a chain had shattered around her heart, and Brigitte felt a mighty weight lifting from her very depths. It was as though a thick, heavy haze was lifted from her eyes and she was looking at everything with new eyes. She took in a deep breath, feeling more free than she had in a long time. It was such a relief that she sank to her knees with the sheer exaltation of it.
Oshunmare walked up with a smile and gently took her hands to help her stand. “Shigidi’s hold on you is broken, I could feel it. What you knew to be true in her heart was stronger than his control. And it was all thanks Billie in helping you see that,” He smiled proudly at her.
The New Orleans girl blushed as the others came up and gathered around. She felt a hand take hers, but she didn’t have to guess who it was as she looked up to see Dante smiling down on her.
“Phew, I’m glad that’s over with,” Kwame said as he wiped his forehead. “I don’t know how long we would have lasted playing deadly skip rope!”
Billie and the others couldn’t help by smile at that, but it was Eshu who looked around cautiously and gave out a warning. “Everyone, I don’t think we have too long before Shigidi is back. We need to get out of here and back to the physical plane quickly. Let’s go,”
No more needed to be said as the group turned and headed towards the way they came. Taking Brigitte’s hand, Aja quickly followed the others. Although her heart was now clear, shame and guilt flowed through the guardian of cemeteries. She had Aja had been so close for many, many years. How could she forgive her so easily? How could anyone forgive her?
But there was no time for anymore of the self-depraving thoughts as they hurried through the dark stair wells and halls and the rarely used castle. The front doors finally came into view as though from out of a black nightmare and they raced forward. “We’re almost there!” Hazelynn said in relief. They filed outside and rushed past the black gates they had walked through in what seemed like a life-time ago.
Ogun looked around in caution, he flaming fist held up. “Hmmm,” he mused before lowering his hand. On his face was what they were all thinking…..it was almost too easy.
“Come, let’s not waste any more time,” Oshunmare beckoned Billie and the other descendants forward. “”There’s no telling what Shigidi could be….”
He never got to finish his sentence as suddenly, more of the flying, mutant creatures they had encountered when they first arrived began to swoop in and circle around above them. Billie watched in horrified fascination as the circle of the flying monsters got bigger and bigger, cawing and screeching loudly. The the black cloud of the creatures sank lower and lower until it was a whirlwind of black wings and feathers before them.
After a moment, the whirling black mass began to slow down and part, and from within its black depths walked out Shigidi, as tall and massive as they remembered. His eyes blazed a deep green as the part closed back behind and the whirlwind of the nightmare birds broke apart, each cawing long and loud as they flapped their large wings.
When he stood before them, he gave a hateful sneer as he brought up his closed fist. “Well now, thinking of leaving? And not even saying good bye? Such bad manners. One may think you didn’t enjoy yourselves here...”
He grinned evilly as he slowly made his way towards them.
Everyone backed up and went into a fighting stance. Their weapons flashed into existence in their waiting hands as they stood ready. Besides them, Madame Brigitte stared down Shigidi, breathing hard.
“You won’t stop us Shigidi!” Billie said, standing bravely before the others. “We found Madame Brigitte we’re going back to find a way to defeat you!”
“Hush, child...I’ll deal with you later,” Shigidi said casually as he waved a hand. Immediately a powerful force pushed her heavily aside as she screamed in surprise. She landed sprawling on the ground a few feet away.
“Billie!” Dante turned to glare at the imposing god, and raising his sword, rushed at him. But the same thing happened to him as he was easily tossed aside, landing not too far from where Billie still lay, stunned.
“Enough of this,” the nightmare god said as all the others came at him. With a grunt, he jumped up into the air, them came back down heavily. As he hit the ground in a one-knee crouch, he punched a large fist into it, causing a rumble and ripple effect of energy.
Maybelle, Keisha, and the others...including the gods, were knocked away as though they were barely nothing, falling crumpled to the ground in painful groans. When it was done, Shigidi straightened up and turned to regard Madame Brigitte, barely standing on her shaking legs.
The two stared down each other for nearly an eternity before Brigitte steadied herself and lifted her head, her long, black hair flowing behind her in an unseen wind. “You,” she whispered, as Shigidi stepped closer to her. “You lied to me. Every word that came from your lips was poison. These young ones...they weren’t the ones who wanted to destroy everything....you were,”
“That doesn’t matter now,” Shigidi’s eyes glowed even brighter as his hands began to brighten with power. “All who stands in my way with be dealt with and destroyed. You could have been at my side when all this was over. You could have ruled with me.” He narrowed his eyes. “But now, you can suffer their fate if you so insist,”
He blasted forth his power from his glowing hand towards her. Standing up on trembling legs, Billie gasped in horror as the powers struck right where the ghost goddess stood. A giant plume of smoke blew up where she was, sending shards of the ground up everywhere and making everyone turn away and cover their eyes.
When the dust slowly began to settle, Billie’s heart sank as she imagined the goddess was obliterated, Shigidi smiling in satisfaction like when a cat finally catches a mouse.
“Oh no,” said Keisha in despair as she came up next to Billie. What were they to do now?
Billie shook her head, hardly believing what she was seeing. Then, just as she thought all was lost, the billowing smoke where Brigitte once stood dissipated, and to her surprise, there was the enchanting goddess, standing tall and now confident. She wiped away a little of the dust from the front of her white dress, then looked up to stare down the nightmare god.
Shigidi grunted in surprise and stepped back, caught off guard. That was completely unexpected. He knew that the goddess was counted as one of the more powerful Loa, thought to have surpass even her husband, but never did he imagine she could withstand him. But no matter, she will be sure to suffer like the rest.
Shigidi gave a mighty roar as he threw forth another barrage of destructive energy blasts. But this time, Brigitte was ready. In a flash, her red, glowing whip materialized in her hands and she flicked it defensively before her. The shock wave of the whip then acted as a shield before her, blocking and knocking away the power before it could reach her. It flew away many feet before landing and exploding, sending plumes of smoke and debris.
The god was not ready to give up though. Again and again he sent barrages of his bright, deadly energy blasts, yelling loudly in frustration…..and each time the goddess cracked her whip and deflected the powers easily. At the final blast before Shigidi paused in exhaustion and frustration, Brigitte ducked, letting it fly over her head. When she straightened back up, she flicked her whip down at his legs, wrapping it around them.
Immediately Shigidi was trapped and he was dragged up and over in the air as he screamed and cursed, Billie and the others following the movement with their heads. He was slammed on the ground as frustrated and angry tears flowed down her white-painted cheeks. “You lied to me, made me believe that what we were doing was right….”
She flipped him up and over again, slamming him on the ground, leaving an imprint. “You made me a pawn in your scheme to destroy our very own land, to destroy the mortal realm that still had people who believed in us, trusted in us….” She once flipped him up and over, slamming him again even harder. “You blinded me to what your true intentions were, what my beloved Samedi almost died, and you clouded my judgment.” She flipped him up and over one last for good measure, this time slamming him as hard as she could into the ground, leaving a deep imprint.
She paused, breathing hard as she fought to control herself. After a moment, she shook her head as she looked down on him. “I’m no one’s pawn, and this all end here and now,” She raised a glowing hand, just as red and deadly as the whip she held in her other hand.
Billie’s eyes widened as she realized what the goddess intended. Was she truly going to try and destroy him? Was she even capable of doing that? Did she have that much power with Shigidi being one of the most ancient of the Orisha? She gulped, fearing that this could probably end badly for the goddess, but just as she was about to yell for Brigitte to stop, Aja was already there beside her, her hand on her shoulder.
“Brigitte, my sister of heart, no,” the short-haired goddess whispered to her. She put her other hand over Brigitte’s glowing, trembling one, lowering it. “Don’t...don’t be like him and let him win. It’s what he wants. Do this, and he will know he can manipulate you, control you. It will not be a victory, it will be a way for you to turn into him.” She looked into Brigitte’s black, fathomless eyes, pleading with her.
For nearly forever, Brigitte stood over him, struggling with the decision. Flashes of memories of a happier time danced in her head, and she saw herself as young and vibrant, dancing slowly in her very handsome love’s arms before the bitterness and anger overtook him. How happy she was then! How she wanted to go back to that time! But deep down, she knew her old friend was right…..she would never be that happy again if she did this, if she turned into the very person she fought against. Not if there was a chance her love could come back and the stain of what she did was upon her soul.
Slowly the angry trembling of her body stopped, and she turned to look at Aja, tears swimming in her eyes. The glowing power in her hand dissipated, as well as the whip. Without any more words, she rushed into Aja’s arms, All the loneliness, all the depression since being awakened and losing Samedi poured out then, nearly sending her to her knees. Oshun, Eshu, and the others came up then, each laying a hand on the embracing goddesses and lending their support as Billie and the others watched.
Shigidi was nearly forgotten….until he stood up in a powerful roar and turned to face the others with hate-filled, glowing eyes. “You think you’ve won? Fools! Don’t forget that I still hold your pathetic mortal lives in my hands, filthy whelps! How about I go and give you a special greeting back in the waking world…..or perhaps it’s already done by my special friends and you’re mine forever!” He laughed long and loud, and in a shimmer of dark pulsing light, he was gone.
When it was done, Antonio turned to the others. “Ummm..guys, I think we’re in trouble back home. We need to get back.”
“Absolutely,” Oshunmare stepped up and beckoned the others forward once more. His rainbow eyes glowed, followed by a shimmering light that surrounded his body. Brighter and brighter it got as he reached out his arms to Billie and the other waiting teens. In a flash the light surrounded them, enveloping them in a peaceful calm as they closed their eyes. Within moments, darkness overcame them as the knew nothing more.
Panting heavily, Erin swung the broken broomstick back and forth, tears now streaming down her face. Beside her, Hattie lay sprawled on the floor, having fainted from the exhaustion of using her magic to protect the others. It was all up to her now. She looked back once more at Billie and the others, lying so peacefully. Why won’t they wake up? She had tried everything...shaking them, yelling, but it was to no avail. So this was it then…..it was over. Oh how she wished it would have worked out! How could she have possibly imagined this was how her life was going to end, as well as Billie’s? It wasn’t supposed to be like this! At this time, they were supposed to be thinking about what they were going to wear to senior prom in the next couple of years, what their dates were going to be like, and what colleges they were going to after they graduated. It wasn’t fair, it just wasn’t fair! Closer and closer the monster came, snarling and waving their deadly claws, spittle dripping from their mouths.
In a final burst of frustration and fear, Erin kicked away one of the olcan as it was just about to rush her. She turned and smashed what was left of her broomstick on the head of another as it also got too close. It splintered into nothing from her hands as the creature fell on the ground.
She never noticed a small flicker of light behind her as she looked up and saw more of the formerly-human beasts coming towards her. Yes, it was the end, but at least she tried her best and she was with her best friend.
Another of the hideous figured roared and rushed forward, and with a sob, the Cajun girl raised her arms and turned away, mentally saying good bye to everyone……..and suddenly, she didn’t feel her flesh being ripped away from her body. Instead, there was a scream of pain from the monster and it was harshly flung back and outside through the gaping hole in the living room.
A second later, she looked up and watched as the impossibly real beasts retreated back, snarling at what was behind her. Blinking, she turned around….and gasped in shock and relief as she saw Billie and the others standing strong and confident behind her. She saw Hazelynn lower her hand and knew that the blast that saved her came from the taller girl.
“Hey there,” Billie said with a small smile, making Erin want to fall on her knees with gladness.
To Be Continued…..