The history of man has pushed the narrative of good existing in light. The role of the sun has been significant to man since his early days. Cultures around the world have labelled the sun as a spiritual entity. Light is labelled positive, good and marking new beginnings. Darkness is inherently evil. At dawn, we wake up and hope that the worries of yesterday are gone. This belief has ensured that hope stabilizes our lives. Popo felt this way as he opened his eyes. He felt safe. The ability to make of his environment. The trees were still towering high and chaos had ensued when the birds took over the air, chirping. The crickets, asleep. He let out a yawn and hoped that was the only worry from yesterday that had stayed with him. He was still absorbing the environment when he noticed her come out of the woods. He had not realised that she had been gone. She was not alone.
“You really snore, I had to wake up earlier,” she said as she dropped the hare on the ground.
Tiko smiled awkwardly as he greeted him. He had been hanging all night and passed out at least two times. He dropped on the ground and lay facing the sky. A few minutes of rest was what he really needed. Popo watched him silently waiting for her to speak.
“I had set up a trap and it caught him instead”
She had not been much of a speaker since last night and Popo assumed that was all he was getting. He took the hare and started skinning it to ready it for breakfast.
The night had been a success. The evil done was a cleansing in his mind. The ritual had been smooth. It was time to play god. Time to do good. Serve the living. The two bent horns in the light were not attached to its head. It was a helmet bowl that had two bent horns attached. He sat on a throne with an aura of power and prestige around him. He was neither good or evil. He was just light and dark. His inheritance. The time to listening to cries was at the light of the day. Ravens would start arriving anytime from now carrying the cries and gratitude of the living.. The prayers would be received by his assistants who were often referred to as angels. Slaves to the god. The prayers would be sorted and only those that praised the god would be taken to him. The prayers of babies were also taken to him and he would grant them. The rest of the prayers were given three separate answers. WAIT. I WILL. NO.
Rarely would one get a NO. Humans would rejoice at the sight of the two remaining answers. They would work hard battling every challenge with a belief of a god fighting alongside them. The wins always outweighed the losses and this meant praises to the god. This would bloat his ego further and brought him happiness.
Abada smiled as a praise was read to him. He shifted his thoughts as the sound of the words faded. He had remembered something. The outcasts. He was expecting them. He started laughing out loud as the assistant continued to read.
Tiko had rested four an hour. Popo had slaughtered the hare and she had roasted it. The eating had seemed like a contest between three barbaric men. The meat had been sweet to Popo. They were now finding their way in the forest. Tiko had told them about the girl from the previous night. They had been intrigued by the thought of her being the fourth. If the night had been kind to her, they would find her alive. The forest had not been known to be kind to anyone. They had all experienced it first hand. They followed Tiko in the direction he had seen the girl go. Popo was still processing the words that had been read to them by her. They echoed in his mind
‘Four challenged challengers. One seeks direction. One a runaway. One who sees the signs. One who wants to be heard. The fall shall arise at the birth of the child.”
The last part was hard to figure. Fate had played an important role in getting them together in what looked looked plain coincidence. A union. They had figured who the four were but it made no sense to them. What were they challenging? What was falling? What power did they have to stop anyone? It made sense unless someone came along and handed them supernatural powers to stop whatever was coming. Unless they had been wrong in their interpretation.
“There,” Tiko said as he pointed to what resembled a cave but was too shallow to be one. It was at the edge of the forest. She must have reached there and had no more ground to cover. A quarry existed. She walked towards the girl.
“Hey I am Adze,” she gestured to her. They had assumed she was deaf so she spoke as she gestured.
The girl seemed scared. She had been alone all night. She replied to Adze and introduced herself as Mokele. She told Adze that she had arrived last night and had nowhere to go. A long coversation continued as Popo and Tiko watched as they went through the sign language. After what seemed like hours, Adze went back to brief Tiko and Popo.
“She can speak but cannot hear,” she said.
Tiko now understood and the grudge died. Adze went on to explain that Mokele was not a child. She was challenged.
“Is she the fourth?” Tiko asked
The introductions were done. Pleasantries were exchanged. They had to go back. He was waiting for them and they had to hurry. Hopefully, they would arrive before darkness struck.
“How do you know sign language?” Popo asked Adze.
“I was a teacher,” she said as they continued.
The woman cried as the midwives carried about their work. The pain was surging all through her body. This continued for about forty five minutes then the cry were heard. Her bundle of joy had arrived. She was relieved and happy. A moment she had dreamed of but had been too painful. The baby was wiped and wrapped using a white cloth. The happiness would be shared with the father. He was absent. He was out fishing all night and would arrive to this joyous moment. It was a baby boy. A proud moment for him.
Abada was laughing when his assistant informed him of their arrival. He was happy. He wanted these impurities out of his land. They were not worthy to be dead. He would have wanted to kill them. The words of his father had been clear to him.
‘The challenged would challenge the god. He would fall‘
He loathed the challenged. Outcasts of every world. An unacceptable form of filth.
“Never!” he yelled and continued laughing loud.
He flashed out a whip as they entered. He wanted them to feel intimidated. Popo felt fear cripple him. Tiko did not react. Adze led them. Mokele was at the back as her physique would trigger this god.
“You!” he pointed to them and continued laughing. He did not utter another world.
Popo jerked at the touch on his shoulder. Abada continued laughing. The assistant was signaling them to follow him. He led them to a door. The door would lead them to the living. Popo was thrilled. He wanted to be out of this place. If that was where the dead went then he wanted no part of it. He just wanted to live. He hoped that what lay behind the door was better than this. Adze, Tiko, Mokele and Popo all hoped one thing, there was life behind the door. What they had seen would go a long way in shaping their lives in future. The door opened and they were kicked out.