Henry looked into the crowd and saw Lassette, her blond hair distinct among the dreadlocks and bald heads. He had not seen much of her since she got to the village, and did not see her at all when the Bokors arrived.
“Hi,” he said and looked down to the ground. She touched his chin and he looked into her eyes.
“I have not seen you since they arrived,” he said, she smiled a faint smile.
“I don’t think that people can change overnight,” she said.
“Akosua will not let them hurt you,”
“I know, there is something special about her.” Lassette said. They stood in silence for a second.
“I take it you have seen something like this before?” he said.
“Yes, I have seen several. This one was as intense as the one I saw right before the slave uprising in 1804.” She said a troubled look in her eyes. She turned and walked away; he followed her kicking at the dirt.
“Their beliefs are strange, but not too different from our own. That service before the revolt was to evoke Baron Samedi, it was darker, more violent, the dances centred on death and vengeance. A black pig was sacrificed. I did not see it, but I heard its squeals from the house. That was the first time I thought Obeah was a barbaric religion. Many slaves have died because of what they believed; ironic, seeing that some of us came here for religious freedom. I thought it was wrong for the plantation owners to stop the slaves from having their services, but after that service I was not so sure. Akosua is the good side of Obeah. She treats life with respect and she loves all creatures. That I believe is the true nature of Obeah.” She stopped talking for a second, but continued before Henry could say anything.
“The slave leaders used Baron Semidi to help them defeat the colonists. It was bloody, but they got their freedom in the end. It did not last, because the colonists made sure they suffered for trying to free themselves. I guess you live by the sword the die by the sword” She said. They walked along passing villagers as they went. Some of the Bokors looked at them suspiciously. Lassette looked uneasy every time one of them looked at her.
“Akosua is the only one of them I trust,” she said as a couple of Bokors stopped and looked at them.
“The Bokors still have that evil look in their eyes, or maybe it’s my fear of them that makes me see them that way,” she said, a monkey hopped across the path in front of them. Even the animal looked at them suspiciously as it jumped onto a tree trunk, shimmered up, and disappeared into the night.
“Are you going to this Nkyene Mountain with them?” She asked. They walked onto the beach and stood looking out at the ocean. In the dark, they heard the splash of dolphins, and saw their silhouette against the starry sky. The salty scent of the ocean was powerful; almost stifling. The waves washed ashore and touched their toes then retreated.
“Yes I am,” Henry said dragging his toes in the wet sand. Lassette turned to him.
“You are not one of them, don’t forget that,” she said then turned and walked back to the path. Henry stood and looked out to sea. He still heard the drummers playing, and some of the villagers still chanted, their voices resonated through his body. His mind wondered back to the journey ahead. He was afraid, very afraid, but he had to go, he had to play a part in the rescue of his sister. He wondered what his father would say when he saw him, would he be proud? He turned away from the ocean and walked back to the village. He bumped into dancers as he went through the clearing.
Henry walked into the village past the smoldering bonfire and the table of food. He wondered if the Loas would come out in the night and feast on their offerings. He went back to his hut and went inside. The two Bokors were already lying in their beds. He walked over to his bed and lay down. Tomorrow, they will go on their journey. His heart raced up as he thought about it. He soon fell asleep with the sound of the villagers chanting in his head.