"The world has always been filled with things we don't understand, things we can't. Religions and belief systems are woven around these things.

Science fails to explain these things to us, so it concludes that they don't exist. It then goes on to label them myths and superstitions. But those of us who know better will tell you that just because you cannot see things or perceive them with your senses doesn't mean that they're not there".

Those were the words of Baba Fayemi when I visited him three weeks ago.

My name is Abike Olorunkushe and I am a reporter for The Independent Daily, a local newspaper in the ancient city of Ebidon. I witnessed something some weeks ago that made me question everything that I believed in, which was nothing by the way.

I was a practical and modern Nigerian. I was an atheist...I still am or I want to believe there is, in fact, an explanation for what I saw. I first of all looked to science for explanations. There is of course the advanced human beings, a new species of human beings that was discovered not too long ago and the fact that they have abilities that were before now seen only in movies made me thought I saw an Advahuman, as they're normally called.

I was investigating the Mob boss Ali Ojudu who went by the street name "Black scorpion". He was the leader of the biggest gang in Ebidon, with ties to the government, so he was practically untouchable. Untouchable by the police which was already one of the corrupt institutions put in place by the government. Ojudu was as bad as they come and finally, one of my informants who were in a rival gang told me about a meeting by his boss and Ojudu.

It was a risky play but I'd been investigating Ojudu for about two years and all those who dared to stand against him were befell by accidents that left them incapacitated or dead. The others took the hint and simply decided to keep their mouths shut.

I got to the place where the two bosses were supposed to meet and what I saw was what made me think about my stance on mysticism, it has made me question everything I knew.

Bolu "Danger" Oluwasina was the name of my informant. He was tired of the life of crime and only agreed to help expose his bosses because he thought it would destabilize the gangs enough to give him a chance to get out and disappear. He was twenty-five and only joined the gang with a hope for a better life.

Bolu revealed to me that the bosses were going to meet at the Fonja bus park, the biggest bus park in the city. He then revealed that they were there for a ritual. "A ritual?" I asked, and he answered. "A human sacrifice that involves the killing of six virgin girls" "The two bosses have the same Baba alawo and even though they are rivals perform this ritual together every year".

I got to the park and as I expected the security was tight. The bosses had their thugs as security but Bolu already told me where to stay that would be safe. I had my cameraman, Jimmy with me and before we got there the meeting/ritual had started. There were gang members patrolling while the two bosses were standing in a circle of white chalk-drawn in patterns. The two bosses were shirtless but had red cloths tied around their waists. They were then joined by a third person. An old man whom I didn't need to be told before I figured out he was the Baba alawo.

"This is some messed up shit, Abike," Jimmy said as his hands started to shake. I could hear the fear in his voice and I knew right there that he wished he wasn't there with me because I wished the same myself.

The reality of how dangerous it would be, if we were to be caught hit me but I wasn't going to stop, I couldn't.

The Baba alawo called one of the thugs and said to him, "Bring them!"

This giant of a man appeared with two girls from somewhere in the park and went back for the rest until they were all on their knees, the six of them. They appeared to have been incapacitated somehow but I didn't know how.

The Baba alawo started saying an incantation in the Yoruba language and at the end of the incantation He reached in his robe and in a split second slit the first girl's throat with a knife he brought out.

Jimmy shouted "Jesus!" The closest of the guards must have heard him and they started coming towards where we hid. Jimmy ran and I was about to follow when I discovered he had left his camera, everything was going to be for nothing and these monsters were going to get away with this inhuman act just to murder more people.

I went back and grabbed the camera but as I turned to follow in Jimmy's direction I heard gunshots. Jimmy had been caught and instantly shot in the head. I turned in the other direction but was met by two of the gang members.

What happened then was a little fuzzy. I opened my eyes to discover myself next to the five other girls who were to be slaughtered.

Ojudu was arguing with the other boss and the Baba alawo cut in.

"This is no problem, we'll add her to the sacrifice."

"That wouldn't spoil the ritual?" Ojudu asked.

"No it won't," the Baba alawo replied as he brandishes the knife he used earlier.

"Then make sure you kill her next," Ojudu said with a smile.

The giant guard grabbed me by my hand and the Baba alawo started the incantation as he did before.

"I am going to die," I thought to myself, I was helpless and right then I prayed. I prayed although I didn't believe in God, I prayed that if I somehow got saved that would be the sign for me. The sign that God does exist.

The weather suddenly got cold, so cold that everyone started feeling it. The Baba alawo suddenly stopped the incantation and the knife slipped from his hand.

"It can't be," the old man said as he trembled in fear. His eyes widened in terror and this made him ignore the two bosses when they asked him what was wrong like they weren't there.

They screamed at him but he was so afraid he couldn't speak, he only pointed into the darkness and said

"Oluwa Esan" which translates from Yoruba as The Lord of vengeance. As he said the words a voice followed from the direction he pointed to.

"You lot are the worst of the worst, aren't you?"

The guards all grabbed their weapons and pointed at where the voice came from.

Ojudu screamed, "Who the hell are you?" To which the Voice replied...

"I am the answer to the likes of you, I am that which the wicked don't meet twice, I am that which brings fear, torment, and suffering to those who think they are powerful. Those who bring injustice and agony to the weak and unprotected. The ones who because they've been opportune to be stronger than others trample and trash the innocent. I am Esan and tonight I bring justice, I bring vengeance and the wrath of the gods upon you at the end of my blade."

The response made Ojudu furious and he screamed "Shoot that bastard!"

Even without seeing the figure in the dark, all of them started shooting in the direction the voice came from. I fell to the ground and covered my ears with my two hands. The Baba alawo fell to his knees and kept murmuring the words, "we are all doomed."

The thugs emptied their weapons and then stopped to reload, then Ojudu ordered two of them to go check if the enemy was dead.

Two of the thugs went into the dark and they were heard screaming for a second and then the screaming stopped as fast as it started. There was total silence for a while and then the heads of the two thugs came flying. One landed at the boss's feet and the other landed right in front of me. I quickly rose, staggered, and fell down again. Then it happened. Fire... something caught fire in the foggy darkness the voice came from. It looked like a man on fire, the thugs started shooting again but they stood no chance.

They were all dead and in pieces in less than a minute. The burning man came at them with such speed I had never seen before, he came in a swoosh and they all fell to pieces. Heads, arms, legs, and guts all came falling to the ground. The cold got more intense and the bosses just stood there, then it came at them but with slowly. He walked slowly and as he got closer the flames on his body died down and his true form was revealed.

He was the tallest man I have ever seen, his skin as black as night itself but so smooth it shone like glass. His head was the same color without a single strand of hair on it but his face, starting from his forehead to his chin was golden. His eyes are were patterned with ice blue but the pupils were red.

The two bosses started shooting their pistols at it but the bullets burnt into nothingness as they hit his skin. He walks up to them, grabbed them by their necks, and raised them into the air with such ease, and said...

"You humans... always believing so much in yourselves and your weapons. You saw death and didn't run. Is that actual bravery or idiocy?"

As the two men struggled in his hand, he looked at me and fear struck me. I could feel him in my head, then he looked away.

He looked back at the men he held and said to them."You have murdered without conscience, you have stolen from your people and keep them in penury. You keep honest men and women down and reap where you do not sow. Your souls are so dirty it disgusts me. You deserve death and eternal damnation."

Its hands around their necks burst into fire and they started burning so slowly. It dropped them to the ground and unsheathed the large sword he wore around his waist.

He walked to the Baba alawo and said to him. The last time I was on this Earth Baba alawo held so much honor that people looked to them for guidance and words from the gods. The gods themselves were pleased. I guess I was asleep for a long time." He raised his sword up into the air, in a slash he brought it down and the Baba alawo's head came falling to the ground.

The two bosses were still burning and screaming in agony as their skin melts away and everything else followed.

It came to me, walking as he did before. He placed his hands on the girls' heads one after the other, looked at me and said... "Get them to safety." Then he walked back into the darkness.

I led the other five girls out of the park and we made our way to the main road. The gunshots had attracted attention and we were met by the sirens of police vehicles and taken to the nearest hospital.

The story went viral the next morning and there were so many versions of it until I provided the videotape of how Ojudu and the other boss slaughtered a girl for ritual and they were going to kill five others. The story was everywhere. On the internet, on television, radio, and newspapers.

I made my story public except for the part where Ojudu and his others were massacred by a creature, a man, or whatever the hell he or it was. I got an award for it and even the governor, that corrupt bastard commended my bravery even though it's public knowledge that Ojudu and the other boss who's name was later revealed as Dehinde "the Jaguar" Davis was the governor's political thugs.

The other girls were rehabilitated and their folks came to get them. I felt good for a little bit but the question of what I had seen haunted me.

It haunted me so much I returned home to Orikuta.

Orkuta is a Yoruba town not too far from Ebidon. I was born there and my folks still live there.

The Ifakushe family has lived in Orikuta for generations. My grandfather was the chief priest of Ifa until he passed away and my uncle, Baba Fakunle took over the mantle.

Growing up, my father didn't mix with his brother and he also discouraged us from mixing with him and our cousins. My father converted to Christianity when he went to school in Ebidon and this created a rift between him and his father. He changed his surname to Olorunkushe and became a pastor later. He was a believer, my father. He beat the Christian faith into our lives when we were growing up and this made me hate religion even more.

During my first year in the university, my hatred for religion grew and my exposure to an alternative way of explaining things made me lose faith in the concept of God and I became an atheist. I started believing more in the humanist philosophy and this was better and easier.

It had been two months after the incident in the park and there have been other sightings of this mysterious creature. Criminals getting burnt to crisp, kidnapped children getting saved by a burning man after he massacred the kidnappers, even terrorists got attacked by a character that fits the same description and their captives were saved.

It seemed this character was on a mission. He had been sighted all over, and three weeks ago he was again sighted in Ebidon once again but this time he wasn't alone. A man reported a burning man fighting something he called a "shadow man"

I decided to go to Orikuta and see my uncle, the chief priest for answers. I remembered that the Baba alawo in the park sort of recognized this thing and even called him "Oluwa Esan."

Upon saying the name to Baba Fayemi he laughed for a long while and said " The one the wicked does not meet twice, the bringer of Justice, vengeance, and wrath of the gods on the wicked."

"This was exactly what the creature called himself, "I said, more puzzled than before.

My uncle again smiled and said.

"Yes, he does like to praise himself in that manner. You were saved by an Irunmole, child."

"When the gods created the earth starting from Ile Ife and Eledumare created the humans, the gods decided to live among them for a while. They guided them to righteousness and humility and all that which is good. The gods Obatala, Orunmila, Ogun, Shongo, and the trickster Eshu. The goddesses Oshun, Oba, Oya, and the others taught the humans all that is good. When it was time for the gods to return to Ajule Orun, they needed representatives on Earth and so with the help of the god Orunmila, who knew the secret of creation, the gods created the Igba Irunmole. The one thousand warrior Spirits who were charged with the protection of the Earth. As the champions of gods on Earth. Each Irunmole would serve as the bridge between the humans and the gods. Since then, after the gods left for Ajule Orun, the Irunmole have stood against otherworldly invaders for times that can not be counted but they have also served as agents of the gods, bringing Justice and order to the world. The one you saw must be Oluwa Esan, the warrior spirit of Vengeance and justice."

After my uncle told me the story, I asked him why anyone never witnessed these so-called Irunmole until now. Baba Fayemi laughed and said...

"Because most people in this world walk around with their eyes open but they are blind. For you to see spirits and gods, you must at first believe in them."

"But you know I don't believe, uncle. Why then did I see it or him?" I asked.

My uncle looked into the moonlit sky and said... " Sometimes the spirits show themselves to us, regardless of our beliefs. They continue to fight for us even though we, the new generation have forsaken them."

"Another thing you need to know Abike is that Whenever the spirits start to appear in this manner, war is not far behind them. They are warrior spirits after all." He said as he starts to sing a song about the one thousand warrior spirits, in the Yoruba language.

I left Orikuta with more questions and I had to return to work the next day. I had been on leave since the incident. I was to go back to my normal life but the description of the word normal has since then been a constant question on my mind.

gods and spirits. Things I never believed in... things I never could have gotten myself to believe in, yet the world is filled with stories of them. Every culture and civilization has them. Every religion has them and although each story varies, if you look at it you always find the same characters reinvented over and over again in an egocentric manner.

All the creation stories have a creator God who created other gods who then created lower spirits. Baba Fayemi called them Irunmole as it is in the Yoruba lores. The Egyptians, the Greeks, the Vikings, the Aztecs, the Arabs all had these stories, and when the new religions came these stories got reinvented again. God and his prophets, his angels, heaven, and hell. The same stories all over again with different character names.

All these are the source of my confusion. Does it then mean that these things exist because all the civilizations that came before couldn't have been wrong all together or do it mean that all of them were in fact primitive and superstitious? I guess it was easier for me to choose the latter until I saw with my two eyes....whatever the hell I saw.

A whole new world. That's what the spirits have woken up to, after sleeping eons. Esan found the sleeping place of his brother, Iku, the warrior spirit of death on a field after searching for months. He woke him up and they immediately engaged in an argument.

"It is indeed a new world but for hundreds of years, humans only managed to destroy the world. They never really changed. They think what they have achieved is civilization but in their core, they are still the same barbaric, bloodthirsty apes I remembered them to be. They pollute the planet, they wage war without just cause other than to steal and murder one another. The rich and powerful still Lord over the weak without mercy. They built crime-filled cities and them...it pains me to say this but they have forsaken the gods, Esan! They worship and sacrifice to the gods no more. If you were to really do your job, Esan. You should slaughter every single one of these tailless apes like you did in Owu." Iku clenches his fists in anger.

"He who so believes so much in himself that he ceases to see his own flaws and judges others is not of the gods" "one of the many pearls of wisdom of Orunmila." "Iku, you have forgotten that we are not much different from the humans you hate and judge so much. Why were we put to sleep by the gods for so many cycles in the first place? You speak of duty and sacrifice to the gods but by hating the humans they charged you to protect, you go against their wishes."

"The gods charged us with the protection of the good, humble and responsible ones, the ones who are kind deserve kindness and the ones who are wicked deserve the punishment that is a thousand times worse." "There are so many bad and wicked among them now that the little good ones are of no use. Esan, do you know what they did in our absence? They enslaved, waged wars, and murdered one another so easily." "They created weapons that'll lead to their destruction and the strong continue to exploit the innocent. If they try so hard to destroy themselves, why should we stop them?."

"Brother, a little light in a place filled with darkness, that's all it takes to see. There is still hope for them yet. I know it. And the fact that the gods have awakened us definitely means there is a war coming and we might be their only hope. The shadow walkers are already here, I fought and destroyed one some months ago. We must wake our other brothers and sisters, are you with me, brother?" Esan says as he extends his hand to his brother, Iku.

"Oh brother, you treasure them far too much than their importance. You of course have my weapons, my might, and my loyalty as you always have." Iku replies to his brother as he extends his pale hand to grab his brother's.

The two warrior spirits have been arguing for days as they did in the olden days, the days when they battled evil forces to protect the human world. They are both champions of the vengeful god of metal, war, and weaponry, Ogun.

Iku looks into the sky, he sighs and says. "These humans are not worthy of this beautiful world. It has taken a lot of shit from them and it is still very beautiful."

Esan also stares into the star-filled sky and smiles without looking down, he says " Do you refer to the world or do you refer to Aiye. As I recall you two had a thing during the fall of the old Oyo empire."

"Is that a smile I see on your face, you brute?" Iku replies.

The smile on Esan's face widened into a grin and soon into a burst of laughter.

"You are the one who refuses to smile, brother, not me," Esan says, as he laughs even more.

"Laughter is for these humans, brother, I want nothing of it," Iku says as he turns his pale hooded face away from his brother.

"Hmmmn... always the brooding one, aren't you?" At least pretend that you're happy sometimes, brother " Esan says, with the smile fading off his face

"And what business does death have with happiness?" Iku replies as he continues to focus his stare in the same direction he had earlier turned his face.

"We have company, don't we?" Esan says but he maintains his posture and continues staring at the sky.

Iku suddenly reaches to his back and all in a split second unmounted the scythe that hung on his back then throws it at the direction he had been staring. With the speed of light, the weapon hits something and sends it flying and tumbling for a while then on command the scythe returns to its master's pale right hand. He reaches his left hand to his back and emerges with the second scythe.

"Hmmmn... you're still as violent as ever, Iku. That could have been anybody, you know?" Esan says as he shakes his head in disapproval.

"That's a shadow walker, you thickheaded oaf!" Iku snaps at him. "I can't mistake that stench of evil."

"Being that you murdered them in their billions, I'll take your word for it," Esan says as he turns his face towards the downed shadow walker for the first time.

"Oh, I have almost forgotten how ugly these demons are," Esan says as seriousness returns to his face.

The shadow walker moved a little and Esan tries to ask it what its business was but before he could talk, Iku leaps from where he stood into the air and landed on the demon, dealing a death blow with his scythe.

"A good demon is a dead demon!" He screams and raises his weapons In the air.

Esan shakes his head and opens his mouth in disbelief.

"I am starting to believe that the reason why you hate humans so much is that you have so much in common with them."

"Take that back or I'll take your head from your shoulder!" Iku snaps and grips his weapons ready to battle his brother.

Esan points in his direction and says in a casual manner, unmoved by Iku's threats. " You prove my point...yet again."

Iku charges at him but Esan makes no move. Iku swings his weapons In his direction and then just a second before the weapons would hit him, Esan sets his gaze on Iku with his coal red eyes. The weapons slip off Iku's hands and he freezes in terror.

Esan bursts into laughter and holds his chest with his hands as he laughs.

"You fucking cheat!" Iku screams as he picks up his weapons and sheaths them back to his shoulders.

"Wherever you see smoke there is fire. Wherever you see demons..."

Esan cuts and with seriousness returning to his face, he says..."The unnamed God must be near"

The sky becomes cloudy and almost immediately it began to rain heavily.

"I have certainly missed this" Esan whispers and smiles as he raises his head up to expose his face to the rain.

"This rain is unnatural, you know?" Iku says. "Oh but, I know," Esan replies.

The sky bursts open and lightning strikes right in front of them. The field on which they stood catches fire and then in a second, the fire dies off leaving only black smoke. A figure emerges from the smoke.

"Okulumbu" Esan whispers.

The character that emerges is as tall as Esan himself. He is clad in rags and his face looks rotten.

He walks three paces in their direction and stops.

"Take another step and it'll be your last, you crooked bastard" Iku warns as he unsheathes his weapons and brandishes them before their adversary.

" Let him speak, brother." Esan tries to calm Iku.

"I am just the messenger oh you mighty warrior spirits. My master whom you so well know greets you and....these are his words, not mine." "Do not interfere in a war between the gods and be wise to remember that you are not indestructible. You were once a thousand but now... "

Iku charges at him, weapons in hand. Okulumbu sees the danger and hits his hand on the ground, a portal opens and he quickens to slip into the portal but in one move and the speed of light, Esan slashes his head off with his sword. He sheaths his sword and walks back to meet Iku halfway.

" I had forgotten how fast you are, brother."

Esan looks at him with seriousness in his eyes and says... " We are at war...this world is at war and we need to wake our army."

Iku sheaths his scythes and replies with excitement in his voice "It's about time, brother, let's bring the wrath of Ogun and all the gods on this world."

"On the wicked brother, on the wicked," Esan says as the two of them walk away from the burnt field.

"And where do we go next?" Iku asks.

"Mountain Lagbolu. Let's go see old Akpena if he still draws breath." Esan replies

"That old goat still lives. I'll be the one to walk him through the gates of Ajule Orun myself when it's finally his time." Iku says, with anger in his voice.

Esan smiles. He unsheathes his sword, places his muscular hand on Iku's shoulder, and says..."The only human favored by the gods so much that even you have no power over him. He can't die until the gods decide, brother."

Iku slaps Esan's hand off his shoulder and shouts at him. "Open the damn portal, you damn bully!"

Esan bursts into laughter. He grips his sword tightly and calls it by its name. "Idajo o!" The sword starts glowing red and the patterns engraved on it start changing and realigning. "By the name of your maker, Ogun the palm wine drinker, Ogun the blacksmith, the one who has clothes at home but covers himself with palm fronds. The one who has water but bathe in blood. Ogun the father of war! I awaken you, Idajo!"

He slashes the air with the sword and a portal appears.

"There is your portal, brother." He murmurs. They both walk into the portal and appear on the other side.

"Behold. The old mountain of spirits. As beautiful as ever." Esan says in his husky voice and sheathes his sword.

They make their way to the top of the mountain and there they found a house.

"I see your friend rebuilt his hut with cement," Iku says as he points at the building.

The building is a simple one, fenced with a metal gate. As they got close to the building, the gate opens.

"I see we're being expected," Esan says in excitement.

Two figures emerge from the house as they get closer, they are revealed to be mud statues armed with spears.

Esan starts laughing. "What a reception, old friend." He says and then unsheathes his sword.

"What insolence!" Iku shouts.

"You are the one who is always craving for a fight, aren't you?" Esan replies as he charges at the statues sword in hand.

"Not with some fucking statues!" Iku protests angrily and unsheathes his scythes as he follows behind Esan.

In the blink of an eye, the statues are in pieces and the brothers walk towards the gate. The gate opens once again and they walk inside. They then walk into the building which is just a big cubic room. At the center, an old man stands, clad in a white robe. The man raises his head to reveal his grey hair and a big grey beard. He smiles at them, then goes down on his knees and touches his head to the ground. "

"Oluwa mi Esan, Oluwa mi Iku. I welcome you both back to these plains."

"Rise, my old friend, Akpena. You bow to no one, for you are honored by the gods." Akpena rises.

"Hmmmn." Iku murmurs something in protest but wasn't audible enough as he makes his way to the cubic walls of the room. Shelves filled with scrolls and books made of animal skins and paper hangs on the walls. Iku reaches into one of the walls and retrieves a scroll. He opens it and starts to read.

"Be careful with that my Lord. It contains writings by Orunmila himself."

"Did you just tell me what to do, old man?" Iku shouts and grips one if his scythes with his right hand.

"Be calm, brother. You know you can't kill him, he's immortal."

Yes? Let's put his immortality to a test." Iku murmurs as he drops the scroll unsheathes his second scythe and moves closer to Akpena. Esan intervenes by stepping between the two of them...

"You have tried this before, brother. Just accept the fact that you hold no power over this man." "The gods made it so."

Iku sheathes his weapon and goes out of the room. The old man reaches into one of the shelves and brings out a big gourd, he struggles to lift it and succeeds after a while. He places the gourd at the center of the room and sits down. Esan joins him.

"Old age Huhn? You are immortal but you're still just a human after all." Esan says as he stares at the patterns and writings on the ceiling of the house, the drawings tell the story of the gods, and fascination can be seen on Esan's face.

Yes my Lord. It makes me question if immortality is actually a blessing like most would call it or a curse, but who am I to question the will of the gods?" Akpena replies. He brings out two calabashes and pours out the content in the gourd into the two calabashes. He offers one to Esan.

"White Palm wine, my Lord. The drink of the gods."

Esan collects the calabash and downs the wine in a gulp. "This is one of the things I missed most about this world." He says with a smile, then he passes the calabash to Akpena for it to be refilled.

They drink for a while in silence and then Esan speaks. "The unnamed god has risen and he brings war and the full fury of Apaddi with him." I hope to find my brothers and sisters but I fear we cannot stop him, for It took all the gods and their might to stop him the last time." He looks at Akpena for a reply.

"Hmmmn. It farts in one's mouth and adds salt. You can neither swallow the fart nor can you vomit the salt for its good taste. The gods have been silent, they forsake this new generation because the generation forsook them first." Akpena laments.

"Why in the seven worlds have they awaken us then!" Esan shouts.

"Maybe because, although they forsake the humans, and damn them for worshipping the gods of those who enslave them, they still love them deep down, maybe because the gods never stopped believing in you, my Lord and it's up to you to lead your brothers and sisters again."

As Akpena speaks, his eyes suddenly turn white and he starts speaking in a different voice.

" You have no time to waste, my son. Find my weapon and you will know what to do." He returns back to his normal self.

Iku rushes in weapons In hand. "We have company, brother. A lot of them."

I hope you enjoyed the first chapter of this story. Vote and comment as you read, though. I'm kind of new and I welcome polite criticism. Thanks.

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