“Papi!” my baby bruddah shouted, brandishing de parchment as he ran in from de mailbox, “De time has come! We gonna take back de Islands!”
Papi looked up from de corner where he sat, whittling base amulets to sell to de reagent merchant, who would enchant dem into Ankhs and Portal Runes and suchlike for Heros. “Dat’s good, my children. Go, and make your Tribe proud.”
My bruddahs and I went out to meet wit’ Seer Vanira as soon as we could gather our things together. We captured de lazy frogs from de ponds around de village, attuned dem at de Seer’s sentry totem, and dropped dem on de smoke plumes sent by de spirits.
What did de Hexed Trolls on de Islands tink of de sudden rain of frogs?
When de Heros came to beat de War Drums, my bruddahs and I gladly volunteered. Those drums had some strong mojo in dem — even Papi stirred from his corner and came wit’ us to join Chief Vol’jin’s army.
Though de Heros might have ya believe that de training went lickety-split, it was not so. No, we trained under Champion Uru’zin’s stern hand for some weeks, as Scouts brought in reports and Heros came and went at Seer Vanira’s bidding. It was not easy for a Mage like myself to learn to be a Warrior, but I worked hard and did my best.
We danced outside de Ritual Circle as Witch Doctor Hez’tok consulted de Spirits of de Ancestors. At last, everyting was wholly ready.
Wit’ all de other Darkspear Warriors and de Heros who’d come to lend de Tribe their aid, we sought de blessing of Bwonsamdi, Loa of de Dead. A thrill ran through me as Seer Vanira called up de elements to strengthen and heal us. Through de crowd, I caught glimpses of de mysterious Lady of de Tigers, de subject of many a rumor and much speculation among de Darkspear Warriors during de weeks of our training. So she was real, after all! I marveled, as her pack of tigers, raptors, and crawlers gathered around us, at Wise Zen’tabra’s great power to be able to convince de animals to help us after years of youth hunting tigers for their pelts, raptors for their eggs, and crawlers for their sticky mucus while participating in their Rites of Passage.
Wit’ Bwonsamdi on our side, we reclaimed de Burnt Village — and den de Loa summoned up de spirits of de Ancestors to fight wit’ us!
Now we were ready to take on Zalazane!
As my bruddahs and I went through our final Rite of Passage, freeing Zalazane’s Hexed and Voodoo Trolls from their bondage, we had each watched for, but never seen, our lost Mami. We found her now, in Zalazane’s inner circle. We recognized her, but though we raised the masks on our helms and called out to her, she did not know us. Empowered by Zalazane, she was a match for all of us at once. We fought her wit’ all our strength and slowly we wore her down. None of us wanted to be de one to land de final blow. Suddenly, her face lit up wit’ recognition and a terrible fury. We turned, and dere was Papi, who we’d lost track of in earlier battles. Throwing us all aside, she hurled herself at him. Her staff cracked against his neck as his spear plunged through her chest. They crumpled to the ground together.
Dere was no time for mourning. Around us, de battle raged on and we had to take care for our own lives. Zalazane fled to another island and we were swept up wit’ de rest of de army in pursuit.
Zalazane crowed in triumph as de horrible compulsion to attack each other, to attack Chief Vol’jin and Seer Vanira and Wise Zen’Tabra and all de Heros, overcame me and de other Darkspear Warriors. Chief Vol’jin threw back his mask; we all saw de powerful grief in his face as he was forced to strike us down.
But Zalazane, too, had forgotten about Bwonsamdi — and de Ancestors had not reminded him. De Loa of de Dead appeared and raised de fallen Darkspear Warrior spirits as zombies. In those corrupted forms, we broke through Zalazane’s black magic shell and beat him into oblivion. The living world faded again as Chief Vol’jin turned to speak wit’ de Heros.
Bwonsamdi chuckled. “You done well, young Darkspear,” he said, looking down at our spirits crowding around him, “You, too, be worthy to be counted Heros. I will return you to de living world dat your Tribe may honor me as your Chief has promised me.” He raised his hands — powerful mojo crackled — and den we were standing, dazed, back in our own true bodies at de burial place outside Sen’jin Village.
Already de lights were being set up for de luau at Sen’jin Village. My bruddahs and I, though, we went back to de Islands. We recovered de bodies of our Papi and Mami and laid dem to rest wit’ all de proper rituals and honor. We helped clean up de last remnants of Zalazane’s black magics. And when de celebrations and de mourning were over, it was time to work, for we had now a city to build.