The drive back to the house was somber after the reading of the will. As Elita expected Lana was furious when the house and most of Grams and Gramps' things were left to her. There was still a lot left to Dominic, but Lana got nearly nothing. She had raged, and said that she was going to contest the will. They lawyer took it with a cool demeanor as he knew that she could contest it all she wanted but the will he worked was air tight. In the end Ted had led Lana away, and had only nodded to Elita and Dominic.
Elita didn't speak to Dominic on the way home; what was there to say? She didn't want to upset him anymore, and she knew it bothered him when she spoke of the possible future.
Elita knew that she didn't know what was going to happen, what she was going to have to do to fix Grams mistakes, but she knew what she felt. She had always known that everything Grams said was real; how could she not when it was shown to her? Elita didn't know if Dominic understood like she did, but he at least knew that it was real enough to her. He had to believe now that the bracelet had spoken to him.
Elita didn't want to die, but she was fully prepared to do what it took to right the wrongs made. If that meant she had to die, then she would die. She just wished she could have lived just a bit longer, but the dice had been cast. Elita was never one to shy away from her responsibility.
Elita exited the car after Dominic parked it, with the sun just cresting at its high point of the day, and stared at her house. Elita didn't think she could ever really consider it hers; it would always be her grandparent's house.
Elita walked up to the house behind Dominic, and felt something stir. She couldn't place if it was in her or around her, but she felt it. Elita tried to shake it off as she entered the house.
"How will it happen?" Dominic asked as Elita walked into the kitchen.
"I don't know," Elita turned to look out the window.
"But you always knew that it was real. You always knew that it was the truth and not just some delusion or story," Dominic said.
Elita didn't look away from the window. Had she seen something out in the trees? "I felt it was true, and I was later shown when I began to doubt. I only knew that. I only ever knew what I needed to know."
Dominic moved to stand by Elita, "You… doubted?"
Elita sighed, "It was hard in there. I wanted to just refute everything so they would stop hurting me. I wondered if it caused me so much pain if it was even worth it or even real. I was shown the truth, and given the strength to be strong in my belief."
"You never told me…"
"You didn't need to know."
"What did they do to you in there? You never told me."
Elita finally looked at Dominic.
She was about to answer him when the sun suddenly went dark. The world was thrown into pitch blackness until outside the lights began to flicker on. Inside Dominic moved toward the light switch.
Elita saw the figure of a man outside in the trees. In one moment he was there and then not. Elita's gaze shifted as something landed on the deck. She stuffed her hand into her pocket insuring the bracelet was covered. She knew who was out there, whom had come for her.
The figure moved, and Dominic flicked on the light. Elita was blinded for a moment, and when her vision was back there was a man standing in the kitchen along with Dominic and her.
"Eshu…" Elita whispered his name with reverence.
Dominic looked to Elita when she spoke the name, and it took a long time before the name filtered through his brain. Then Dominic looked at the man before him. He was tall and bald. If that wasn't enough to prove to him that this was the same man Margret and Edward had encountered, the man looked at Dominic. Dominic was captured by this eyes that were amber and seemed to shift in color.
Eshu looked back to Elita, "Do not pretend to hide from me."
"You have been watching," Elita breathed. Though she had dreamed of Eshu that was just dreams. Faced with him in real life Elita was at a loss- before her stood a god.
"I have always watched. I was the whisper in your mother's ear of the name that she was to give you. I was the one that touched you to give you the strength you needed. I have always been with you Elita, and now it is time."
Elita was memorized by Eshu, his words, and his voice. When he spoke Elita could see she shifting sand that held his temple, where his people once worshipped him.
Elita was broken from her revere by Dominic shouting. She looked to him confused.
"You can't take her! Take me, take anyone but her!"
"She is the chosen one. She is the one to seal what Margret released. It must be done by her. You knew that when you placed the bracelet on her."
"You opened it! You take it off of her!" he yelled. He just couldn't take his sister away now! Her whole life had been unfair to her, and he had just stood by and let it happen. He wasn't going to anymore- not where her life was at stake.
Elita stepped forward. "Domi this is how it has to be. This was always how it was going to happen."
"It's not fair El," Dominic fell quiet. "I don't want to lose you, El; you're my baby sister. Why can't I go in your place and do what needs to be done?"
Elita pulled Dominic into a hug. "I'm sorry Domi, but we both know it has to be me." Elita held him as he hugged her fiercely, and then stepped back.
Elita turned to Eshu that stood silently, "I'm ready."
He only turned and walked out the open door to the deck. Elita followed behind. She glanced at her brother one last time before she turned and stepped off the patio trailing Eshu. Dominic went to the door, and watched her go.
A car came barreling into the driveway nearly hitting Dominic's rental car. It wasn't even stopped before Lana and Ted launched out of it. "Elita!" she screamed.
Elita paused along with Eshu, and they both turned to look at Lana.
Lana's heart skittered to a halt. She only had to glance at the man by her daughter to know that everything Margret had told her was true. Everything Lana had rebuked as lies, and punished her daughter for believing was all real. Lana was faced with the unavoidable fact that she had put her daughter through years of pain for something that was real. Margret had been right all along, and Lana had just been too narrow-minded to see it, while her daughter had whole heartedly embraced it.
"Elita?" Ted asked.
Elita smiled up at the two briefly. "I gotta go. I love you."
Then Eshu took Elita's hand. The wind sprang up around them, and sand seemed to obscure them. Then the wind and sand was gone along with Elita and Eshu.
Lana took a step toward where her daughter had disappeared, and felt to her knees when her muscles gave out. "Elita…" she whispered, but Elita was already gone.
Elita was breathless as they arrived in front of a large stone temple. Elita looked up at the imposing sight that was lost in the darkness after the lamps failed to cast any further light before glancing around. In the sand lay various discarded tools. Elita could only assume that the people unearthing this place were trying to work through the night. There was no one left to ask though. There was a chaos of prints left in the sand that were likely fresh.
Something reflective caught Elita's eye, and she moved to see what was shining in the lamps. She froze after only two steps when the gleam of the light faded revealing the color. Elita stared at if for several moments trying to control the panic that was rising up in her. Then Elita looked past the object, and saw what it most certainly came from. Elita turned away, and saw that Eshu was watching her.
"What happened here?" she asked even though she didn't want to hear the answer he would give.
Eshu looked at Elita, and then turned his gaze toward the black maw of the temple, "I believe you know what happened."
"Are they all dead?"
"The lucky ones."
Elita nodded as a shiver gripped her spine. The woman shook it off, and stepped purposefully toward the temple. Eshu fell in step beside her, and she was astonished.
"I thought I would be doing this alone."
Eshu nodded, "You will, but I must bear witness."
"Is that an order from your master?" Elita asked as she began to ascend the few stairs that lead to the gaping hole in the temple. She was careful to not place her feet on the blood that was more prevalent the higher she climbed.
Had the workers uncovering this temple been dragged inside? Elita was afraid of the answer.
"Yes, I must report what happens, and then he will decide if the sun will stay swallowed, or if it will be spit out once more."
"So Olorun ordered Mbombo to swallow up the sun because of this?" Elita gestured to the temple opening before her. She had reached the top of the stairs, and the blackness was before her. She was terrified, but she understood that this was something she had to do.
"Yes," Eshu replied.
"When I call them back, and close it up once more will he order the sun spit out again?" Elita asked.
Elita nodded, and stepped into the swallowing blackness of the temple.
It was cold in the dark, and Elita shivered for it. She moved deeper into the darkness without letting her eyes adjust to the limited light that still penetrated the temple opening. She could hear the soft footfalls of Eshu behind her, and found them comforting despite knowing he would do nothing to help her here.
Elita paused as her foot slipped, and she had to regain her balance. Elita knew what was underfoot that caused her to slip, but she didn't want to admit it.
There was a tap behind her, and light flared through the temple. Elita's breath escaped her as before her there were several men, twelve, hanging from the ceiling. Their blood dripped to the floor through the long ragged cuts that covered their bared skin. All of the men's eyes were open, staring blankly, with horror etched into their faces.
Elita covered her mouth with a hand as she struggled to keep control of herself. She wanted to run from this place; she wanted to hide and forget it all.
Instead she straightened, and glanced at Eshu behind her. He held a staff now that had a small orb floating above the top of it. It was the source of the light.
Elita gave Eshu a nod, and then turned back to the dead men. She stepped slowly forward, careful to keep her balance on the worn stone that was slick from the blood that pooled on it.
There was a scrapping sound ahead of her as something shifted in the dark crevasses of the temple. Elita wanted to call out to whoever might be there, but thought better of it. For all she knew it would be one of the monsters that had committed the atrocities against these men. The woman had no desire to encounter them is she didn't have to.
Elita moved past one of the dead men toward the altar that sat innocently in the middle of the chamber. She studied the symbols that decorated it, and made note of the several depictions of a woman with the bracelet on. Elita tried not to focus on those pictures too much as usually the woman was having her heart removed. Figures danced all around the altar, and hideous creatures nipped at their feet from below.
"A gate way to hell?" Elita asked herself as she looked over the altar drawings.
"We don't call it hell."
Elita jumped at the sound of Eshu's voice. She had been so absorbed in the altar she had forgotten he was there. He moved forward to stand within the ring of bodies that surrounded the altar. Elita studied his stoic features before turning back to the altar.
"You may not call it hell, but that's what it is- a gate way to the underworld that is filled with all the creatures not allowed to live on Earth in the light of day."
Elita sighed as she continued to inspect the altar depictions. "But what was it that Margret awoke? I see that a chosen woman is the one that can open the gateway, like a Pandora's box, and that a woman must close it. Did Margret open the doorway?"
"No, she woke the guardian."
Elita looked up to Eshu, "A guardian, he opens the gate way?"
"When he wakes the gate opens, and unleashes the forsaken ones on this world."
"And when he sleeps?"
"When he sleeps the gate is closed."
Elita looked back to the altar, "And only the heart of the woman will make him sleep?"
Elita nodded silently. There was no way that she could walk away from this. She had to die to save the world.
The woman looked about for something sharp. Elita understood that her blood would have to be spilled to call back whatever things might have already escaped. Finding a dagger made from stone on the altar, Elita picked it up.
"Was I meant to die from the very moment I lived?" Elita asked Eshu as she sat on the altar, and put the cold stone to her warm flesh.
Elita nodded with a wan smile. Elita applied pressure, and slid the knife down her arm. Blood sprang up instantly at the caress of the surprising sharp blade. Elita suppressed the cry that threatened to spill from her lips unwanted. She was would do this with dignity.
"Eshu," She whispered as her blood ran down the long cut onto the altar. Light flared up from the altar as the blood began to run along the channels carved for it.
Eshu's light extinguished, and Elita was bathed in the unearthly red light that sprang from the altar. Elita looked over to Eshu; he was silent in the red light that flicked across their features.
"What comes after?"
"You will see soon enough."
Elita nodded as she slashed a long cut down her other arm before the already cut one was too weak. The blade slipped from her slick fingers, and clattered to the floor at Eshu's feet. Elita lay down on the altar, and stared up into the dark ceiling.
"Will you return my body back to my family?" Elita asked.
"You must call the guardian before you die."
Elita looked over at Eshu. She could see him better now that the light was brighter as more of her blood ran along the channels in the stone. The woman nodded, and touched the stone on the bracelet.
"Why was it out there? Why was it out in the sand where it could be found?"
"The last girl tried to run."
There were shuffling sounds from the entrance, and guttural moans. Elita shuddered at the visions that filled her mind of what might make those sounds. The shifting of something in the crevasse from before caught her attention though. The dying woman turned her head to it, and away from whatever was coming into the temple now. She didn't want to see the monsters anyway.
Out of the dark stepped a man that didn't seem a man at all. The red light graced his face and revealed the sunken black eyes that looked at Elita hollowly. His long wiry hair was tied back in a pony tail that seemed to make him all skull and skin with no muscle anywhere on his skeletal body. His hands were like claws with black pointed nails.
He shambled toward Elita, and the things that had entered the temple shrieked and howled at the sight of him. Elita understood why the last girl had tried to run. The guardian was surely ghastlier than the monsters that had been unleashed.
The man stopped standing next to Elita with a hand poised over her chest.
"Do it, and end this." She said to him, but he didn't seem to hear her words.
Elita touched the stone again, "Do it!"
The man opened his mouth in a silent scream and then plunged his hand down into Elita's chest.
Lana, Ted, and Dominic were sitting on the deck as the light suddenly engulfed the land once more.
"She did it," Dominick spoke breaking the silence between them.
"We're safe then?" Lana asked. She began to weep. "She won't come back will she?"
"No." The answer came from the tall bald man that appeared before them. "Elita has performed her duty, and given her life so that the world may continue once more with Olorun's blessing."
Lana began to weep harder at his words. When she looked up to demand her daughter's body to bury he was gone. Lana finally understood everything, and now her daughter, whom had understood all along, was gone. She couldn't say goodbye or apologize.
In Africa the winds wiped into a furious storm, gathering up the sand and flinging it across the land. The winds brought a sorrow filled voice from the desert to any who would listen. When the storm cleared several days later the desert was smooth, and uninterrupted in the flowing grace it possessed. Any traces of a temple, or any human presence was washed away and buried once more under the unforgiving sands. The sacrifice had been made, and the price demanded had been filled.