Chosen by the Storm (Jin’marou Shavai and Adjassou In’ama, WoW)
OOC Note: Another story written with the fucking incredible Steve Renn. Posted with permission.
Looking between each other, the shaman were uneasy. A storm had gathered here, a vicious swell of tumbling gray clouds sheared by the winds high in the firmament, walls of clouds curling in and eating themselves like some starved otherworldly thing. They belched lightning and wept rain, forming as a dark mist in the distance as that great mass approached the jungle.
Quietly, the two spoke to each other in Zandali. Shavai looked to his mate, brow furrowed. “He’s come to see us early. Expecting.”
Adjassou nodded and looked skyward. The breeze was already kicking up from across the sea and into the jungle, rustling through the palms and ferns to clatter the shells in her hair. “It is time, Shavai.”
Mists surrounded the temple that they had bound themselves in, the scent of them thick with the sea salted air and bristling with electricity. Adjassou looked down at Rahkan who seemed to sleep soundly. As uneasy as she was, this did not surprise her. The boy could sleep through anything if he had a mind to; which was never as often as she wanted. “May the Lord of Storms keep his word,” The woman whispered low, not wanting to be heard by the Loa but feeling his presence all around them. The eyes of the Baron were upon them. The eyes of Shango, as well as Agwe even if it was only Shango they had come for.
Jin’marou Shavai lead them up the steps of the once great temple, Adjassou no more than a step behind behind him.
The two trolls and their children stepped reverently up the ziggurat to the highest platform, the same place that both shaman came to consumate. The sight and sound resurrected memories not of their union, but of the temple’s history. Others had come before, high priests shod in blood red and brilliant silver, vestments that clattered richly in the winds back then as they did now. Though it laid dormant, the presence of these two and the children caused the temple’s spirit to stir once more.
Agwe’s servant hugged the infant girl to her chest protectively, she could feel the spirits meant no harm but as they appeared her instincts flared. The light fur covering her body stood on end. The couple walked side by side up to the altar. Ancient stones made warm by the temperate climate of the Vale. She could only stare at the altar, remembering the night she had found Zar’huda there with Ayida and her mother, Erzulie. She remembered how the Loa had tortured him to a ragged end. Her fear was obviously reflected in her gaze when she looked to her mate and down to the boy he held in his arms.
Wordless, Shavai nodded at her and brought the boy from his chest and sat him down, his fingers working ritualistically over the blue swaddling. Rakhan laid back against the fabric, finally stirring awake and naked as the day he was born. The boy had his mother’s eyes, a burning orange, a vicious gaze in time but now lost to the innocent wonder of his youth.
A gourd at his hip was drawn up and cracked open. Unassuming outside, but within was a marble-white glop that Shavai took gingerly onto his fingertip. The fruit was consecrated and warped by the powers above, and with the pigment he painted a ward onto the baby boy’s forehead and chest, murmuring under his breath in their old tongue.
Turning to face Adjassou, their father nodded as he raised a hand for Ayavi. “Leave her bare before the heavens and I’ll prepare her. Shango will arrive soon, it seems.”
At that, the troll gazed skyward, eyes narrowed as a wicked shard of lightning tore through the clouds overhead.
Adjassou apprehensively laid the girl beside her brother upon the altar and unbound the swaddlings that covered her to bare her to the elements. She reached over to the gourd for the marble-white glop to paint the same wards upon the girl and withdrawing her hand slowly, not wishing to allow either of the infants from her protective embrace. To keep herself from reaching out to the girl, she reached to take her mates arm between her hands.
“Agwe’s grace upon you both.” She whispered under her breath, hoping for her patron to protect them should the storm lord decide not to keep his words.
With that, the trolls forced their eyes away from the children and up toward the darkening sky. The storm was upon them, thunder and lightning whipping with the wind in that torrent. There was only the sound and flash, the rush of wind. No rain fell, and like a gilded chariot bringing its king to his throne, the storm began to swirl and part above them, falling deathly still.
An eye had formed, as the great hurricanes that tore across the sea. No sky was seen, only more of that thunderhead’s shadowed bowels. Torrents of bolts danced across the vortex like spiderwebs, coalescing into a vague, hulking form of a troll. Arms outstretched, it began to descend toward the open roof and the altar where the children were laid. Shavai rested a hand on Adjassou’s shoulder to reassure her, he could feel her energy bristling with unease. Her eyes narrowed over Shango as his avatar approached the altar; she had no love for her mothers’ Patron despite the deep respect she held for him.
The lightning dispersed with a blinding flash. By instinct, the two clenched their eyes shut and turned away. Birds of paradise and booming rolls of thunder resounded and heralded the storm lord’s arrival. Manifested before them as he was in the spirit world, his crackling gaze fell upon the children on his altar, the Loa’s form seemingly ignoring the Jin and Agwe’s disciple.
The great spirit’s broad red hands stretched over the children, their cries stilled to blank, hypnotized stares. The thunder rumbled around them, wind howling through the derelict temple. Matching the storm, the form growled deep within its throat and sighed a heavy breath as Shango peered into their little hearts. The silence gnawed at the souls of the shaman, and finally the great Loa turned his gaze upon their parents to speak.
“You honored the pact, upon my terms. It pleases me and your ancestors, Jin’Marou, to not only know this, but see it. These are yours.”
As Shango adresssed the shaman, the spirits around the temple weaved inbetween the Loa and the altar as they shifted between the realms. Adjassou watched them with a wary gaze, her focus turning to Shango in question, “Ours? You demand us to bring them to you before they are of proper age only to tell us that you do not wish for them?” Her words were born of the muted rage that she kept buried down, almost immediately regretting verbally flying in the face of the storm lord. Spirits around her cackled at the shaman’s audacity and formed a circle around Adjassou, slowly moving in.
“Brazen!” shouted one.
“Heathen, to question His way, His will!”
The spirits were a raucous conclave of jeers and slanders, their ghosts rotten and dessicated much as their mummified corpses were in some lost necropolis below. Their tattered vestments and rusted jewelry rattled in the ethereal winds that stirred from Shango’s presence in this world and the next. The Loa himself canted his head back, the thunder rippling around them and shaking dust from the temple’s walls as his body’s laugh soon followed in its wake.
“Enough,” bellowed the storm lord. “They are of his blood, and the blood of his strange mate, but it is not they that I wish. There is another.”
Shavai took a step forward through the throng of ghosts and waved a hand. Will was sufficient in making a holy gesture, putting the spirits at ease. A forced calm that left them balking, yet they complied with the Jin’s unspoked order. Shango lifted his hand and turned its breadth toward his follower, lightning forking through his narrowed eyes as thunder ushered in his words.
“Speak, boy. It is clear enough in your eyes that you’ve protest with my will.”
Shaking his head, the troll looked between his son and daughter, distraught over what must have gone wrong with his children. “Why? I bring them before you at great risk, lord, but you refuse my bloodline after so many generations of service?”
The Loa glared at his mortal servitor, the raised hand clenching into a fist. “Blood does not make the sons and daughters of Marou in accordance to the Old Pact, boy. You’ve aunts and uncles, cousins. Brothers, sisters. Born of the seed, but unchosen. Nameless but for claiming a mother or father. The Next must have potential. These little ones, Shavai, are your own, and as a man of dignity, I would expect you to raise them in accordance with your ways. But they shall not be Jin’Marou. Neither your successor in the Pact.”
The rolling crashes and flares high above subsided, leaving only the wind howling high above and down low through the temple. Calm before the tempest, a moment to hear out the plight of mortals. Everything was metaphorical; Shango’s will and ways were likened to the storm, and the storm a reflection of that entity’s presence and thought.
Adjassou’s hand came to rest against the small of Shavai’s back, her attempt to quell whatever anger grew within him in the frustration of his patron’s words. There was little fear in her eyes when she looked to the Loa, her violet eyes narrowing over his form. If she weren’t a pious Troll she knew that she’d have sprung over the altar. It wouldn’t have been the first time for one to rip the heart out of an avatar. Shango saw this in her gaze and held it as if to challenge her. Her fingers dug into the mail that ornamented her mate’s body but she did not move in anger.
Rather, she stepped forward to wrap the infants in their swadlings once more, there was no use for them to lay there open to the elements.
The spirits around them shifted, fading off into their realm. They did not need to remain, knowing what was coming. And while the storm began to move past the temple, one spirit remained. Its form unrecognizable to either shaman beyond the feminine outline that stood fast beside the avatar of the Storm Lord.
“What of them, then? Am I to abandon them? Leave them to the elements? To the wilds? I honor you, Shango, but they are mine. They are ours. I will have no harm come to my children.”
The Loa shook his head slowly, his expression one of an odd, confused revulsion. Eyes narrowed, and the storm above rumbled lazily once more. “Being what you are, and being what they are, makes you no less their father, and they your children, and her their adoptive mother, where the one of birth has vanished. Your son will be pious, but he will be as a sorcerer, as your grandfather. He will practice black magic, but his fate is unknown beyond this. It is in his hands.”
Shavai could only stare blankly at his son. Little Rakhan, to weave curses, hexes and darkness. The boy looked innocent now, sleeping soundly in his father’s arms. The Jin looked up warily from the bundled boy, addressing his patron with uncertainty. “And my daughter?”
Slowly, Shango nodded and rubbed his chin as he looked the girl over at Adjassou’s breast. “She is her mother’s daughter. Her blood mother’s daughter. Hers is a different path than that of the Jin’Marou, or even your family’s tradition. She will be as your great grandmother, and by bow and spear, there will be death. In her, you will see Yumn. Prepare yourself for this, boy.”
Adjassou looked from the girl in her arms to her father, her glare softening as she locked her gaze with the Loa once more. “You mentioned another, Storm Lord.”
Crossing his broad arms, the Loa nodded once, his voice following another berating of thunder and wind. “I did. Ask her, girl. She, of all my followers, can best explain to the likes of you.”
Without another word, he gestured to the spirit beside him. “The Loas guided your coupling,” The spirit began, her voice carrying a harsh, aged undertone that was immediately recognized by Adjassou. Her ears perked up and her eyes met the intangible form of the woman. “They, against the wishes of you both, watched. Did you not believe nothing would come of it? The blood of the Marou and the In’ama finally came together.”
“…Maman?” The spirit remained silent at the question asked of her, had she been Erzulie In’ama they would not know for certain.
The spirit looked to Shavai instead, “Jin’Marou will be born in six months. But neither of you of honestly needed a Loa to tell you such.” She snorted, shaking her head in slight disappointment that two shaman as pious as these had not presumed as much for themselves already.
Shavai looked over to his mate, raising a brow. “You’re pregnant?”
She stared at him, still holding tight to her adopted daughter. He’d never seen an expression so blank, but her eyes began to wander, between him and the children, her feet on the temple floor. Lost in her reverie, there was a sudden interruption. The soul, the shaman and Shango himself all slowly looked up. Patters of sporadic raindrops began to fall into the temple, and the great spirit smiled ear to ear, the roots of his tusks bared as he stared up into his storm.
“I bring lightning and thunder,” the spirit rumbled, and so did the vast clouds overhead. “But my power is the storm. A storm is many things. A union, a joining. What is the storm without rain, this I ask the both of you. This child, by my disciple and that of Agwe, will it not embody the storm?”
The two were still processing the matter. The hazy spirit looked between them in the silence, cocked her head back and laughed. Fading with the others, it was only the two shaman and Shango that remained. “Now you know,” he boomed. “You have brought your children before me, and I have chosen. The Next was yet to be born; you two, and you two alone, had to create this child. From storm, from sea, from a world in strife.”
The younger shaman’s hand dropped down to the chain mail and shark skin armor that covered her stomach, her head bowing in reverance to the Loa. “It will serve you well, Shango. I give you my word as a disciple of Agwe. You will never see a storm as fierce.”
When she raised her head, she looked to Shavai. Her expression no longer impassive but concerned and joyous. She was unsure to how he would take such news, she was unsure of how she would deal with the work they had ahead of them but such a fact had only strengthened her resolve to see that Azeroth would be a safer world for the child she now knew to exist within her.
Shavai’s response was a wordless acknowledgment of what was to come, some glimpse of an understanding of what had happened. Part of him reeled from the notion of conspiracy, but the rest of him felt as if some divine inspiration had taken place in his life. Slowly, he began to smile.
“I see,” the Jin said to himself, slowly nodding. “Holy Shango, may I ask a boon?”
Another rumble, and the rain was coming down in a persistent drizzle. “I am satisfied, Shavai, so speak.”
Looking to his mate and his two children, the troll smiled and held his son out. Adjassou in turn held out his daughter. Together they stepped toward the altar. “Would you bless them?”
Shango lifted his hands and raised his chin, looking between the four trolls gathered before him. “Bring them closer, and it will be so. Boon for boon, The Old Pact has been sustained.”