This is chapter three 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 all you patrons will get four chapters (over 100 pages of material), exclusive, before it’s official release!

If 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 humanity’s 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.

In Chapter One, Yemaya is captured by a trio of villains intent on hurting the Horsemen and winds up battling her own brother. In Chapter Two, Ogun is forced on a mission to steal some strange technology on the other side of the world and has a very close brush with death.

Chapter Three, Oshun’s story, begins in the sky,  high above the Aperture, the central tower of the shining city of Lumumba.

 Oshun found Shango contemplating Akebulan.

Floating in the open air above the Aperture, he had assumed a lotus position despite the fact there was nothing to sit upon. The wind had a chill at this height and ruffled his white shirt incessantly. Blue electricity flickered off of him now and again, sparking out in tiny lightening coils. His eyes were closed.

Oshun rose up on a trail of golden light and hovered at his side. Like him, she could sense Akebulan nearby, even though it wasn’t visible. It was their sister realm, home of Olorun. Of course she could feel it. Gaia and Akebulan were were adjacent worlds, conjoined dimensions, and here, above the Aperture, the barrier between them was thin. But while she sensed it, and knew of it, Akebulan did not capture her attention the same way it appealed to Shango. She had more pressing worries right here and now, in Gaia.

“Shango. Am I interrupting?

He didn’t open his eyes when he responded. “Of course not, Oshun. Join me.”

Oshun didn’t bother assuming a sitting position. She wasn’t here to meditate. “There’s something going on, Shango. I think it might be serious. I can feel it, building.”

“Of course. Yemaya, attacked by Ahura’s children. Ogun manipulated by the daughter of Quetz. It’s not a difficult puzzle. I suspect the Deitis’ offspring are just trying to make a name for themselves.”

She shook her head. “No, it’s not just that. I don’t feel the truth in it. There’s something more going on.”

Shango sighed. “Whatever it is, we can handle it. It’s not worth worrying over.”

Oshun folded her arms. “How can you possibly believe that? You don’t know what’s coming or what shape the future holds. Are you seriously too arrogant to imagine a problem you can’t solve?”

Shango turned and looked at her for the first time. His eyes were solid blue and simmered with electricity. “You’re mistaking arrogance for confidence. Whatever comes, we can defeat it.”

“Really? Because that woman who played Ogun got what she wanted and very nearly killed him in the process.”

“Ogun survived it. She didn’t. Whoever she was working with, if they use it against us, then they’ll get the same.”

Oshun rolled her eyes. “I’m curious, do you have any tools on that belt other than a hammer?”

Shango straightened out, uncrossing his legs and assuming a standing position with Oshun. “Did you come all the way up here to give me crap or did you have something o say?”

She pointed at him. “You need to spend more time thinking about Gaia and less time staring at Akebulan. This shit is real, and it’s not just a couple of attacks. You need to take it seriously.”

“What do you mean, more than a couple attacks?”

“Have you seen Eshu lately? Me neither. Something’s wrong with the underground railroad out of the States. We haven’t had anyone successfully get out since those folks Yemaya saved over a month ago. And it’s not like that batch had an easy time of it. You put any thought into how those three knew where the ship was? Eshu left more than a week ago to see if he could figure out what was going on. Nobody’s seen him since.”

Shango shrugged. “Eshu comes and goes all the time. It’s nothing to worry over.”

“Are you sure?”

Shango narrowed his eyes. She continued.

“Eshu’s not the only one. Oya is planning on heading out to find Dr.Utella’s boys. These ‘Cloven’ still have them.”

“Oya’s a big girl. I’m sure she can handle it.”

“Again with the unshakable confidence. You should learn to recognize bait when you see it.”

“I’m not stupid, Oshun. I recognize. I just don’t think there’s a hook out there big enough to catch Oya. And if she does get in trouble, we’ll help.”

“If we can. Whatever this is, it’s stretching us thin. There’s more. I’ve got almost two dozen Manifest missing from the Assembly in the last month. No warning, nothing, just gone.”

“You have people drop out of the Assembly all the time. It’s hard to deal with new powers from the spark. They’re not used to being Manifest. It’s inevitable that some quit and leave. You know that.”

She shook her head. “Not like this, Shango. Sure, some go, but you can usually predict who. These people weren’t quitters. They were committed, willing, and working with us. They just vanished. Left their families, homes, everything, with no trace. Are you hearing me? Something is going on. Something big.”

“Okay, let’s say you’re right. What do you expect me to do about it?”

She glided over to him, crossing the distance between them, and took his chin in her glowing hand. “Turn around. Stop looking to Akebulan for answers. Focus on Gaia.”

His temper flared up. “Why do you think I’m studying Akebulan? They’re ready. We’re not! I’m trying to learn how to keep Gaia safe!”

“Their path aint our path. They’ve got nothing to teach us. You’re wasting time.”

“You’re wrong.”

She chuckled. “Please… like that happens.” She pivoted in the air, turned toward the ground, and sped back toward the Aperture leaving a wake of light behind her. She called back over her shoulder. 

“Come on down when you realize I’m right. We’ll be waiting.”

Head HERE to sign up where you can read the rest of the chapter and dozens of other stories too!