This is chapter one of a novel I wrote set in the universe of The Horsemen comic book by Jiba Molei Anderson. The first three chapters were illustrated and published in comic book and trade formats by Griot Enterprises. The remaining chapters 4-7 have been delayed in art development. While they wait for illustrations and print versions, they will be released in a text only format here on my patreon! So patrons will get all the chapters, but will get the upcoming chapters, exclusive, before their official release!
f you want to catch up on the story leading up to this point you can find the individual issues and trade collections on the Griot Enterprises website. You can even pick up this issue , complete with a dozen illustrations, there. The trade book of Mark of the Cloven has the first three issues and comes with a bonus prologue scene.
The Story So Far
The Orisha are the ancient gods of the African continent. They were people who so perfectly represented the ideals of humanities good side that they transcended into something divine. In the distant past they did battle with their evil counterparts, the Deitis. These beings represented the different facets of human vice and corruption. The Orisha won the war and defeated the Deitis. Once this was done, they left the world, allowing humanity to grow and thrive no its own.
But the Deitis were not truly dead.
They rose up and, over centuries, used their evil influence to corrupt the world from the shadows. Once this became evident, the Orisha found human excellence to incarnate their energies into. They embodied and empowered seven people from Detroit with their cosmic energy and returned to the world as The Horsemen.
The Horsemen, with their newfound powers, set upon defeating the deceitful Deitis. After seeing the state of the world, and the degree to which the United States was corrupted, they set their eyes to their motherland. In a much disputed act, Shango the Destroyer, wiped the city of Abuja, in Nigera, from the face of the earth and forced the unification of all the African nations.
From the rubble they forged a new shining city and heart of this new African Union, Lumumba. Using their unique gifts, the Horsemen transformed the continent into a blossoming utopia from which to confront the Deitis and heal the world of their harmful influence.
The world of the Horsemen is one of political upheaval and a rising presence of powerful forces. New technology produces threats daily. The Deitis grow bold in their need to maintain control of the world. The return of the Horsemen has released a spark into the world, and people, both good and evil, are finding themselves gifted with amazing new abilities. These people, known as the Manifest, take sides with world governments, the Deitis, and the new African Union.
Amid all this chaos, we turn our eyes to the city of Detroit, and begin.
Here’s a teaser! All of the first scene!
Djenaba shoved open the emergency exit to the hospital roof. The door had a solid lock and an active alarm, but neither mattered. Both failed to function.
She should be post-op right now, changing out of scrubs, cleaning up. She was certainly not supposed to walk the halls with the consequences of a failed surgery splashed all over her. It was neither hygienic or seemly. But right now, she didn’t care much what people thought. She needed solitude and a chance to regroup.
Her feet crunched on the tar and gravel. Without hesitation she strode directly to the roofs edge. Balanced there, she rubbed her eyes and took several slow, deep breaths. The fifteen story drop, without any sort of railing, did not bother her. The patchwork lights of night-time Detroit spread out below. It was a strange pattern with too many dark swaths. It was abandoned, burnt, dead. Even if she weren’t a doctor she could have easily seen the city was sick.
A concerned voice drifted from behind her.
“Sister, are you injured?”
Her brow furrowed. She hadn’t come up here for a visit.
“No, brother. I was in surgery.”
She did not hear the roof-stones make any noise but when he spoke again he was directly behind her.
“And they have shed this world?”
She nodded. “Far too soon. And roughly.”
His hands dropped onto her shoulders, gentle, barely a pressure. “I’m am sorry, Yemaya.”
She slunk out of his palms, dipping her head under his arm and deftly twisted away despite the ledge. She walked away along the tightrope precipice. “Do not call me that, Jani.” The emphasis was on his name.
When she turned to face him, she had to admit to herself that the man before her looked very different than the boy she’d grown up with. Ash white and soot black paint covered his face and portions of his chest, which was bare beneath a loose tuxedo jacket. He was lithe muscles, bare feet, and a mane of dreadlocks in formal tails.
“Jani?” he barked out a laugh and grinned. “You of all people should know better, sister! I am Eshu now, the Trickster Elegba, Shadow on the Crossroads. Although, the more linguistically adept call me Elleggua and they love the sound it makes rolling around on their tongues!”
Djenaba folded her arms across her stained chest, unimpressed. “Why are you here?”
The smile slid from Eshu’s face. “Why am I here, is it? No time for little brother’s nonsense then? Straight to business! I could ask you the same question, sister. Why are you here? What purpose do you think you serve plucking out stray gang-banger bullets? Trying to fix this rotten place one bloody hole at a time. It’s nonsense! There is more going on in the world that’s so much bigger than this. You’re above it, goddess!”
“We are not gods, Jani.”
“My decisions are my business. I haven’t forgotten who I am or where I come from. Now, did you just come here to tell me how stupid I am or did you want something?”
Eshu looked like he was going to push it. She knew her siblings didn’t understand why she stayed in Detroit and remained a doctor. When the spirits of the Oshira had empowered them the others had seen it a way to expand. They’d been living successful lives before, but upon obtaining their powers, they realized they could go further, do more. They could change the world now, and they did. Not always in ways Djenaba agreed with.
Unlike her newly powered kin, she had been living with the life and death of the emergency room all along. She’d long since grown immune to the rush of saving a life and knew too well the taste of failure. It was not something she intended to forget, despite her family’s novice enthusiasm for heroism. They’d yet to have someone “die on the table” and she was not looking forward to they day that they learned that lesson.
“I need help getting a few people to the African Union, more specifically, to Canada.”
She could have guessed as much. That Eshu and the others had been helping people get out of the United States and into the new African Union was no secret. Since the passing of the Retention Act things had gotten ugly. Day by day the great Land of Prosperity became more and more like a cage and the wide open frontiers of the new African Union were becoming the future of opportunity. The bars only tightened as the superpower fought to keep its relevancy in a shifting new world.
“Surely, Eshu, with all his mysterious crossroads and god-like powers doesn’t require my aid.”
His smile slipped back into place. “You sell yourself short sister! I do not have the market cornered on powers or enigmas. I cannot, for example, get a boat with no engine to sail across Lake Erie to a certain safe-house where refugees will move on to the East coast. I am shit at boats and not much a fan of water.”
Djenaba nodded. “Such humility.”
“Also, Ogun was gonna’ do it, but he’s hit a snag in the Koso Project. Shango asked him to stick around and sort it out. I wouldn’t bug you if I had another option.”
“Well, will you help?” he asked.
“Give me a minute to think already. When would this happen?”
“Tonight. A few hours from now.” He smiled apologetically.
“You’re confident, Eshu, waiting so long to ask.”
Eshu exhaled dismissively. “What you see as confidence is actually me trying to deal with a missing Ogun. I came to you as soon as I found out.”
“What will you do if I refuse?”
“You won’t refuse. It’s for the Union.”
“Ahh, the Union. Well, of course then! I’ll just drop everything for the Union. Who am I to refuse such a grand honor?”
Eshu didn’t hide his frustration. “Why do you do that? I don’t need your sarcasm. I need your help. It’s like you don’t understand how important these changes in Africa are. For us. For the world.”
Involuntarily, her mind flashed to the day Nigeria died. That great bolt, the smell of electricity and fire. All the screaming. Despite the progress since then, she still had trouble thinking of it as anything other than the site of a mass murder. “Oh, I understand, Eshu. I understand that nothing born in that much blood grows up healthy. I see your hope, but forgive me if I’m cautious about the reality.”
“So you aint gonna help?”
“I didn’t say that. I asked for time to think.”
Without a sound he was at her side, offering an envelope. “I got things to do. No time to stay here and wait for you to make up your mind. You have until midnight. This is where the boat is and where it needs to go. If you do, then do. If not…” he shrugged.
She took the paper.
Eshu crossed the roof, melted with the shadows, and was gone.
If you’d like to see the rest, another 25 pages! Sign up for my Patreon! You’ll get that, dozens of other stories, and upcoming chapters! Or, if you want your own physical copies, complete with pictures, you can buy them at Griot Enterprises.