Background: Jim is the son of Anansi, but chose to follow Kalfu at his Hero visitation. Kalfu has previously appeared once to Jim by arriving silently in his hotel room's doorway at midnight. Some of the talk is in a Creole / English hybrid, but I've put in the definitions.
The part about "you will cooperate
with the state..." refers to when The Agency captured Jim and he
underwent psychological torture designed to break him so he would
reveal the location of Odin to the New American God government. He
managed to fight them off and go catatonic instead.
Bossu is a malevolent spirit of possession that Jim defeated as part of his first Visitation. Jim now carries Bossu's jar, which gives him the power to command the baki. The last time he sent it out, it returned with a man's genitalia as an offering. Jim stored the member in a velvet-lined pip case and offered it to Zachriel, a fallen angel / ancient Babylonian spirit of memory, in an attempt to buy back his stolen memories.
Tiesha is his wife. So far she has been helpful and supporting, although she has also made promises for him that she couldn't keep, in an effort to use his newfound power to bolster their voodoo shop in New Orleans.
Two nights after Coatlicue’s escape,
Jim’s room door is yet again opened at midnight. “Welcome
to de world, Bokor Barbeaux. Your kanzo be apre.” Kalfu flicks
his hand and a weathered business card sails from the doorway to the
bed. It reads only “Ozanfè, 134b St. Marie,
Port-au-prince, Haiti.” When you look back to the doorway from
the card, he’s gone.
Bokor: A houngan (voodoo priest) who performs black rituals
Kanzo: A secretive initiation rite of a houngan into higher levels of Voudoun. It is said to involve a trial by fire.
Ozanfè: A famous houngan who died in the late nineties. His children now live in Maryland and New York, but as far as you know do not practice Voudoun.
Apre: Creole for the day after tomorrow
Jim and the missus pack up and head out to a brief hiatus to Haiti. When he attends the kanzo he goes wearing a simple set of jeans, a hoodie, and sneakers and brings only his natural birthrights: a Voodoo Doll, Gris-Gris Charm, The Tossing Bones, and Bossu's Govi).
The address takes him to a run down tenement building. The dark basement hallway ends at 134b. After a few knocks a plump Haitian woman of around 50 answers and looks Jim up and down. "You da Barbeaux boy?" She doesn't wait for an answer, just shoos him back down the hall. "We don' start til eleven-thirty. Dat's nighttime, boy. Be here a little early, but not too early." He looks down at your watch to see it's only 10:00am.
That evening Jim shows back up at Ozanfè's apartment, and the woman answers again. "I Mambo Asgwe. I gonna oversee de preparations." She leads him into a small apartment and past a large green wood door to a small bathroom. A lukewarm bath has been run and she leaves him to cleanse, making sure he know to use the black salt scrub. Black salt is used to purify and preserve against outside spirits.
She gives Jim about 15 minutes and then knocks. Once he is out she begins the anointing ritual. Jim and Tiesha have done this several times, dedicating themselves to the Loa that most represent their goals and heart. The only ones that are always present are Baron Samedi's mask and the their respective Met Tet's symbols over the forehead.
The Mambo paints the Baron's face over Jim's in black and white, and the vever (symbol) for Kalfu over that on his forehead, symbolizing the Baron's control over everything, and Kalfu's influence over the young Scion. Papa Legba follows on the small of the back in black and red, opening the way for magic. Next are Damballa and Ayida Wedo in white on the shoulder blades, symbolizing birth and the new life inherent in a kanzo. Finally she paints Erzulie Dantor, the darker aspect of Erzulie, over his heart in red and black, her dagger-pierced heart symbolizing vengeance and jealousy.
Once the symbols are in place, she draws one more on the back of his right hand: a tiny brown spider. "De fada gotta be here too."
Asgwe leads Jim through the locked door and into a large voodoo chapel that appears to have been dug by hand into the earth around the building's foundation. It is well lit with a mixture of candles and electric lanterns. Mambo Asgwe lays him down on an old wooden bench and shakes various powders and herbs over him, chanting rhythmically in Creole as they cake into the still damp paint.
As she calls out to the ghede spirits of the dead the candles simultaneously puff out and an old man materializes behind the altar. Jim recognizes him from pictures as Ozanfè, the houngan. The spirit hobbles over to the bench and rubs the powders and herbs into Jim's body. He gets the impression that he is both fulfilling his role in the ritual and searching around for any place that was not touched by the black salt wash. Jim's thoroughness covered everywhere though, and Ozanfè is forced to return to Agwe's realm when his job is done.
The lanterns go completely dark with the smell of short circuited ozone, and the Loa marked on Jim's body appear within the room. Baron Samedi tells Mambo Asgwe that her part is done, and she backs out of the chamber in reverent awe.
The Baron strides over to the supplicant and lifts him up to sit on the bench. "Enough with the formalities. Drink?" He lacks the thick Creole accent when speaking to Jim, though it was rolling off of his tongue when he sent the mambo away.
Samedi takes a swig and proffers his flask. "You're the first of the children since the Old World to understand and see enough to claw your way to this plateau. I don't know whether to congratulate you or apologize. I guess all I can say is that it won't be boring." He uses a fingernail to scrape some bone dust from around the eye sockets in his skull, and then pushes that powder into Jim's eyes. It burns like hell and blurs Jim's vision.
Samedi walks to the back of the group and Papa Legba comes forward, his crisp white suit sparkling with an internal light. He is silent and gives off an air of reproachfulness, unhappy with his part to play in elevating someone who would knowingly choose to walk Kalfu's path, but unwilling to go against Damballah. He silently probes around Jim's head and heart. When he finds what he's looking for he drives both of his well-manicured hands into the Scion's head, though they don't break the flesh. Jim's Consciousness is almost completely subsumed by Legba's, as the Loa rifles around inside his mind like a DEA agent tossing a drug lord's house for evidence. Just as abruptly he is gone, his body fading from the chamber before his voice: "It is within him."
Damballah Wedo, in his favorite form as a huge python, slithers forward next. His first wife, Ayida Wedo, walks along behind him in a rainbow party dress. He coils up and raises his head to the level of Jim's. "What if you fall? Get de next line ready. Welcome to The World." His wife slides up, laughs, and stares intently at Jim's nethers. "Dey work, use 'em as meant. Gran Bois comin' home and him not happy."
As the two slither off into the darkness, Damballah's second wife, Erzulie Dantor moves forward, slowly sliding a dagger out of a sheathe by her garter belt. She glides the blade up and down Jim's back drawing tiny rivulets of blood, but not deep enough to hurt. She comes to the front and places the dagger in his hand. "Tink on da one dat hurt you, child." Her hand moves up to cup his cheek and his ears fill with the sound of "You will co-operate with the state, for the good of the state and your own survival." She walks into the darkness, leaving the dagger behind.
After what seems like minutes of the Loa staring at the Scion, Kalfu comes forward and breaks the silence, but not by speaking to Jim. He picks up Bossu's jar from beside the bench and crushes it in his hands. Bossu, freed, appears and starts to say something to “Boss” before noticing Kalfu. As soon as he sees the Loa he clamps his mouth shut tight. Kalfu speaks in grave tones, "Will you follow me into fire, into storm, into darkness, into death?"
Bossu asks very sheepishly, "Do I have a choice?" When Kalfu just stares, he says, "well ok then. I will."
Kalfu pulls a mortar and pestle from a shelf and grinds the remains of the jar into a powder which he mixes with his own black ichor. Then, with a preternaturally sharp fingernail, he begins tattooing Jim's back, using the lines Erzulie Dantor cut as a framework. When he is done, the back is covered in a divine family portrait. He picks up the knife Erzulie Dantor gave Jim and holds it against the Child's spine. The cold steel pushes, there is a touch of pressure, and the dagger is gone; though now there is a small dagger sheathed to the thigh of the Erzulie in the tattoo. He picks at the dagger again with a fingernail and it appears in his hand.
"Da world be changin', as it do. Know dat de old gods got no respect for us upstarts. But look ta see who be strong in da world and who hidin'. Even da one-eyed died, but da Loa still walkin'. Time's be busy, and dere's much ta do. Ya got needs, now's da time to say 'em."
Jim holds back any questions, preferring to let the Loa get back to their godly duties. The Loa depart as silently as they came, and a single candle lights the room.
Mamba Asgwe starts to come back into the chapel, but Anansi's voice calls to her from Jim's hand, "No yet, Chanté. We go chat." The spider she drew on the back of his hand stands up into a daddy long legs, does a back flip and blurs in midair. When Mr. Nancy lands he does a quick soft shoe shuffle and finishes with a laughing bow. "How ya be, boy?"
Without waiting for an answer, as usual, he presses on. "Look like old One Eye and de fire son trick all. Now we in a fine kettle." He nods towards the darkened back corner where the rest of the Loa disappeared. "Dem don' know. Dey too young. Dey don' remember the troubles when the ancients come. Dey livin' hoity toity in the New World. The higher the monkey climbs the more him expose, ya'unerstan?
"But I memba well Nu, who some called Toad. And Gran Bois o' de trees. If tings like dat comin', we gotta be ready. I gowan down to da Baron's House in Guinee and see what Agwe seen. We got past troubles, but I tell ya a truth. Keep ya eye lookin'. De ancients not all gonna come up Go'zilla."
Jim searches his memory momentarily and recalls that Nu, or Nun, was the father of Atum-Re. He represents the waters that were there before the world began and will be there after it ends. He grew impatient with his creations and sought to destroy them, and return the world to a state of pure water. Grain Bois is a primeval Loa of the forces of Nature. He wants to return to a more pristine world without the destructive impact of humanity and its toys.
The Baron's House in Guinee refers to Baron Samedi's home in Guinee, the Loan Underworld. Agwe is the Loa who rules the underworld deep beneath the Caribbean waves. The Baron has a yearly party where all are welcome to attend. Although Jim doesn't know its schedule, it wouldn't surprise him to learn that Mr. Nancy has lined up his urgent business in Guinee to coincide with free drink, food, and fun.
Jim responds to his father's dire warnings with wisdom of his own. "Perhaps we can benefit from the strengths of our neighbor's rising enemies by arranging for them to cross the paths of our own family's ancient bogeymen. By fighting dark with dark we weaken our foes while creating strong friends in the process. I will investigate the skeletons that are climbing out of the closets of my allies and see if there is anything there that can be of use. There is no need to risk our own house this early in the game if it is avoidable."
"Ya don' talk like me, but the thinkin's the same. I gotta go find a boat. You got a snorkel?" He turns to leave, stops a moment, then turns away from the shadowed corner and towards the door. "Dat Chanté, she useta be fit and ready. Mebbe I go say 'respect' to 'er 'for I go divin'." He gives you a lascivious wink and leaves, calling a boisterous hello to Mamba Agswe as he goes, leaving you to clean up.
As he is finishing wiping off the paints to the odd sounds of Mambo Asgwe's laughter and Anansi's booming voice from the other room, your father exclaims, "Aye's! Me's a bobo! I almos' forget de braata." (I'm a fool! I almost forgot the little something extra.) There's the sound of rustling cardboard and paper, then the door to the chapel opens. Anansi stands in the threshold holding out a small box wrapped in yellowed old newspaper Jim recognizes from a pile in the Mambo's corner. Despite the crumbly old paper and only having taken less than a minute to wrap, the paper's lines are crisp and the articles are aligned so you could read them without unwrapping the box. "'Appy birthday, my boy!"
Inside is a shoe box, and inside that a child's phone and PDA set. Bright primary colors and a smiling face mark each of them. The phone has lights and a small speaker. The PDA has a large plastic stylus attached, and a slider under the screen.
"Don'cha go arunnin' up my bill!" Anansi laughs and escorts the Mambo out into the city streets with a jaunty hum and a soft shoe shuffle. He whispers something into her ear (Jim catches "I got 'em from Tiger his self") and the old woman gives a laugh that's throatier than all the prior ones. Then the two are gone into the night.
Jim gets back to Tiesha around 1:00 AM to find she's been waiting up. The moment he walks through the door she scrutinizes him up and down, searching for any signs of damage. To those who have not gone through it, the kanzo is known only as a trial by fire often involving possession by an Iwa. After a cursory inspection she is temporarily relieved and asks what happened. The kanzo is meant to be a secretive ceremony, and she doesn't press when Jim is reluctant to answer. Her curiosity is not more important to her than his piety.
Under the Unlidded Eye the phone and PDA are both definitely relics, although in typical Mr. Nancy style he has obscured their usage and purpose, probably so he can picture his son experimenting with them and giggle. As Jim studies them, Tiesha starts to ask what they are, but stops when she sees the intense concentration.
Not knowing too much about the inner-workings of electronic devices Jim takes a brief look inside the two devices with Flexible Acuity to check for any non-electronic components or anything else that looks like it doesn't fit in (crystals, string, animal parts, etc.).
The PDA's only function seems to be to let a kid draw and erase, then push a button to play music.
Inside the phone on the back of the
0 button is a small symbol that looks like a curved road with eight
legs coming off. It is the symbol of Road Builder, a son of Anansi’s
in ancient times, who legend says built the road his other 5 brothers
used to find Anansi when he had been swallowed by a fish. It is the
tale of how Anansi put the Sun in the sky. Apart from
his building skills, Road Builder was also a great communicator
capable of bringing distant people together.
The battery holder is empty, but on the inside of the cover plate Jim sees Tiesha’s name scratched onto the plastic in tiny chalk letters. She gets up to go to the bathroom and when the door shuts the name inside the phone fades away.
Jim scribbles Tiesha's name onto the doodle pad and channels legend into the phone. He checks the battery cover to see that nothing has changed, and dials 0. When he gets no immediate response he lets out a tentative "Hello?".
Nothing changes, and the phone just beeps. However, as he is experimenting, Tiesha comes back out of the bathroom and as soon as she does the name reappears. Jim hits 0 again and it starts to ring. Anansi sounds a little agitated when he answers, but he’s also chuckling. “Whatcha’ want boy? I got Chanty all revved and you be steppin’ on me brakes.”