She tries to turn her head to ascertain the source of the voice, but not successful. Besides, how would she see the person in this brilliant darkness? She wonders forlornly.
The hailstones withdraw and the noise in the sky die down. Surprisingly, her feet unlock from the earth and she turns around. The question repeats itself from the path behind. She spins around and around; she never gets the particular direction.
“I…I was sent by Yemoja,” she says anxiously.
“…to do what?” The voice barks.
“To set my brothers free from bondage of cruel mankind,” says she, now in a stern voice, “and I want to break the eggs of life which represent their destinies,” she begins to wonder, at this moment, what has befallen her magical endowment.
“Your powers are not active at this very spot, young goddess,” echoes the voice, in a less severe manner, “and your thoughts are like spoken words in my ears. No matter how much power you possess, I would be invisible to you…Ebora inu afefe, that is what I am! I’m only visible to the gods, demons and finally Eledumare, the god of creation. Likes of me dwell in the air between heaven and earth. That being said, are you aware you are in Aginju Iberu?”
“Ye…Yes. I am aware,” she stammers, groping around in the dark like a blind beggar that has just misplaced a walking stick.
“ I will not hurt you due to the nature of your assignment. If you had come for evil, I wouldn’t hesitate before sending you to the river where you belong. Many have come here to keep glories and destinies of their kinds. Some succeeded. Majority did not. I’m not sure if your mission will be successful with all the overpowering spirits you shall come across on your way. From here your disappearing force would be impotent until you mission is fulfilled. May the head of Olokun stand solidly behind you.”
“ Ase!” she says, rubbing her palms together as a wish to her ancestral goddess.
“I am heading to my abode. I saw you by chance on my way to a journey. Now you can leave.”
“Thank you,” she says, bowing her head slightly in obeisance.
At that instant rivers of withered leaves and dust gather in clouds, sweeping and whistling in the air. Trees swaying wildly like drunk dancers, twigs and branches breaking down, snapping and crackling under the violent wind. The shadowy clouds begin to clear way for less dark masses when a blood red moon creeps to the center of the sky. In the course of the upsurge, Mojisola shields her eyes from the dust.
At once the silence is replaced by creepy, bloodcurdling roars, rising and falling with howling of the wind. The continuous chirping of insects and cries of night birds blend with the noise to compose a more dreadful tune. The darkness barely breaks down under the peering moon; so, she picks her way aimlessly towards the path ahead. She wishes she wouldn’t come across any deadly creature before regaining her power. Every single sound seems to startle her; even the slightest crunching of dry leaves under her bare feet. Acrid odour of wet plants and tree barks squeeze into her nostrils, almost clenching her stomach. Her entire being feels empty and hollow; apart from the privilege of being in her future image. She wonders why Yemoja hasn’t told her all this before. She prays silently to Olokun, the ocean ancestral goddess, that no evil should befall her. After walking several feet further she feels a radiation in her body. She halts abruptly. Instinctively, she knows that her power has returned. To verify it, She picks up a twig-covered stick that is lying among the scattering leaves, then dilates her eyes which snappily reddens like burning coals— the stick flares up with yellow flames. She smiles and let out a sigh of ease. After squinting prophetically at her left palm she starts clearing her way with the flame. Hanging on the tree-branches above are human skeletons of different frames almost masked by cobwebs, and at the feet of each tree are heaps of human skulls, soiled fabrics, rust swords, machetes, and rifles. She wonders if any war took place on the land in the remote past – perhaps thousands of seasons ago since she can see swords hanging from the chests of some skeletons.
Crack-crack-crack-crack — a sharp noise from behind prompts her to turn around like a whirlwind. It is a broken-down twig landing on the ground from tree branches far above. Before turning back on the path the strikes come again in doubled successions. Turning around again, there is no tree at that spot, but tangled plants. Meanwhile she catches the glimpse of a certain animal rushing into the undergrowth in a shadowy form.
Mojisola stumbles when the earth starts quaking under her feet as if hundreds of elephant are approaching. The quaking would stop for a measured moment and continues again as if it has been timed. She wants to move, but loses balance—almost falling off her feet. Then in a snap of a ‘Y’–catapult, painful slaps batter twice at the back of her neck. When she waves the flaming stick in the direction of the blow she sees nothing—she can only hear a mocking grin like the one made by a naughty two-year old baby. Again and again, slaps lashing at her back like spit of angry fire. Suddenly, the earth stands still. With her eyes reddening with rage, she tosses the flaming stick away and thrust her both hands in all directions of the forest. With that, lightning radiate into the night, hanging from one tree to another in a mighty web. Unfolding before her is a male dwarf with a mat on its head, eyes hollowed out between a head twice bigger than a burnt-looking body, and around his waist is a skirt of mariwo¬—green raffia straps.
“Why did you burn my skin?” The creature barks, showing clenched decaying teeth.
From his appearance Mojisola knows it is Egbere—a mat-carrying spirit.
With her hands resting on her hips, Mojisola snarls, “The reason is so obvious!”
“You deserve that!” the dwarf yells, “You stirred me and my children from sleep with that fire in your hand. After wandering endlessly during the day; you don’t want us to have a good sleep in the night? Many humans have come here, and they ended up as meats for the vulture!”
Mojisola smirks between a calm anger, “Now, show me your house around here.”
The creature points at the oak tree behind, “Are you blind? Is that not a house? Don’t just let me drop this mat on the ground. Or else!”
Mojisola wonders what would happen if he drops the mat; nevertheless she doesn’t panic.
“Or else what!”
On hearing that, the creature spread out the mat on the ground, and at once the earth begins to shake, more violently than the previous. Mojisola loses her balance and falls on her back. She feels her back stuck to the earth. The Egbere roars with a triumphant laughter which immediately drives its family out of the tree wall. All of them, with fiery spears and swords in their hands, surge over Mojisola, swinging up their weapons for finishing blows.
With blue flames shooting from her glowing red eyes, Mojisola melts down their weapons into cloud of ashes. Yelping and screeching, they all stagger backwards to reinforce. Again she uses her eyes to heighten the force of the wind which abruptly kicks the mat into the air like a dry leaf—the earth becomes stagnant at once. The creatures’ attention immediately divert to the flying mat. Like a rising piece of wood, Mojisola stands swiftly on her feet.
“My mat! My mat! My mat!” The father dwarf cries out, soaring after the mat in the air, but before he could reach it Mojisola has set the mat on fire with her glowing eyeballs. While the mat is blazing they all disappear into the night, yowling and screeching hurtfully.
Gasping in devastation, Mojisola wonders if the mat is their strengths. She believes they’ve gone to gather more force; maybe overpowering ones. Squinting into her palm again, she discovers that her destination is nearby. Just as she bends down to pick up another stick, she hears crowd of chatty voices waking and dying under the wailing wind. She wonders if there is any village where normal people are residing around there.
She is baffled once she perceives reflections of fire afar off — that is the only path that leads to her destination. She lights up the stick with pale orange flames. After walking a little further, she can see lamps twinkling like masses of stars in the blackness ahead. “Is this a night market?” She wonders aloud.
“Yes, it is a night market, but for the spirits of Aginju iberu,” a manly voice answers from nowhere.
“Who is that?” Mojisola asks, nearly flinching.
“ I’m right beside you, if only you can use your inner eyes.”