The witch doctors of the Seven Stones clan settled by the bonfire, preparing for the Ghost Trance. Less than a week had passed since the last Igani. All of them had heard the tale of Benu and his fight against the demon. If the stories were true, he had sacrificed himself to spare the Tribe of the Clouded Valley.

But rumors followed the stories, as they always did. Such was the way of things. There was talk from the Clouded Valley that Benu had defied the laws of Igani, that he had even been a kareeb.

The high priests of the Seven Stones spoke of the spirits' anger over these events. Although they deemed Benu a hero, they claimed that the presence of the demon had sullied the ritual war.

And so another Igani Bawe had been commanded.

Seeking the blessings of the spirits, the Seven Stones witch doctors entered the Ghost Trance. Time slowed as they shifted into the realm beyond. The village peeled away, and the twisting energies of the Unformed Land stretched out endlessly in all directions.

Normally, the warriors would each see and hear different spirits, if they saw or heard anything at all. This time, however, every witch doctor witnessed the same pitch-black figure beckoning them. The spirit's thoughts formed as words in their minds, clear as crystals and sharp as daggers.

You are blind.

The witch doctors were unsure of what to make of the spirit's accusation. They apologized and asked for forgiveness. Many of them broke off from the trance, fearful that they had somehow angered the spirits.

Those warriors were not ready, but others were.

"What is it you wish for us to see?" the few lingering witch doctors asked.

Truth. You might die in this Igani. For what reason?

"To honor you and your kin," one replied.

"The high priests command it. Such is my duty as a witch doctor," said another.

"To live is to sacrifice. To sacrifice is to live," a young warrior stated.

The spirit approached the last speaker, pondering those words. Once, in the other world, he had worn them as armor and wielded them as a blade. But lives should not be given up so easily, so needlessly.

I do not want your sacrifice. This land does not need it.

Confusion and unease rippled off the young witch doctor. He hesitated before speaking. "Then what do you ask of me? What is there besides sacrifice?"


In the end, only the young warrior had remained in the trance, but the spirit once named Benu harbored no ill will toward those who had fled. If it took days, weeks, or even years, he would guide them to enlightenment. All umbaru walked their own paths to truth. No two were the same.


Witch Doctor

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