Night swept the cool sea air to where the sisters and brothers of the Ai’loa formed their numinous circle. Their torches burned brightly, hungrily, as if mimicking the roaring appetites of several mons and womons present.
The Antu’thraze emerged from the night’s horizon with their feast in tow – the sisters Shi’nazzi and Shi’bemba, naked, blindfolded, wretched, and damned to the perdition of the other side. No loving embrace awaited them. No welcome, no respite, no peace. The sisters had stained the mortal world with a hubris so wicked that they had forfeited any right to a restful death.
Kogi, the younger of the newbloods, held his breath. “The spirits…They’ll tear them apart. Like raptors would a fowl.”
Dzivah winced. Their power was palpable, even delectable. Her mind lingered back to their interrogation only days earlier, where after much coercion it was revealed that instead of fulfilling Dambalah’s wishes, they had stolen the secrets of the very mon they were entreated to destroy. They flirted bravely with profane majicks and twisted secrets. She coveted it all privately, but feigned righteous indignation when her mate dragged them closer to the group for all to see.
Her father stood up, his hoarse old voice breaking the stiff silence. “Ohiska. Jenroku. It be only through your final efforts that these two souls be meeting Bwonsamedi’s good side. They gon’ need mo’ than that, though.”
The Antu’alor and the Antu’kan stood up, cradling goods and fetishes for their last rites.
“You can’t go like this. Here, put dem on.” The Antu’kan punctuated his soft speech with outstretched hands that clasped modest clothing. He had acquired it especially for the two women, so as to restore what dignity he could to them. He assisted them both to get dressed and wiped down any lingering injuries as Ohiska recited the blessings of Lukou and traced the veve in the sands encircling them.
Dzivah spied the Primal rolling his eyes. He was eager to mete out justice and didn’t see the point in ceremony or mercy. As the two priests stepped away from the sisters, his eyes widened with the fervor and delight of a child who realizes it is his turn to play with a toy he desires most.
The Ice Troll swung his massive blade theatrically down and let it hover just far away from Shi’bemba’s throat that her terrified reflection stared back at her, shaming her, mocking her for her failure to show courage in the final moment. She bit her lip and closed her eyes. She knew she had to pay. It was a good death for someone who deserved worse, she thought.
Drek’tal grunted as he lifted the blade high and brought it back down, cutting her head swiftly and cleanly from her body. Audible gasps came from the crowd. Some murmured further prayers to the Loa.
Shi’nazzi’s face contorted with anguish at the sound of her sister’s demise. It stirred a fire in her that life could no longer nourish, for death was seconds away. The futility of her empty rage caused her whole body to involuntarily sag.
The Primal was cruel, having not forgotten this sister’s attack that robbed him of a finger. He intended to delay death without being blasphemous. The blade came up and just as Shi’nazzi thought her cold, quick death was imminent, the Primal ran her through the chest, not quite fatally cutting her. Shi’nazzi roared with a mouth full of blood and imprecations. She focused all of her remaining thoughts on anger, on revenge, on spite. Drek’tal brought the blade down finally on her neck and her head rolled away from her body. The crowd gasped as her brutal, hate-filled physiognomy glared up at all of them from the dirt.
The High Priestess crossed her arms, looking away from the sight. As Vosu’jin and Ohiska took the bodies away to be cleaned and adorned for the altar offering, her father approached and put his hand on her shoulder.
“The Loa have their way, daughter. You’d be wise to forget it.”
Her breath hitched in her throat. A father’s intuition, no doubt.