01- The Sphere of the Ancients

“Mama,” the little boy said as he clambered on the old woman’s lap, “please can you tell me a story?”

The old woman smiled as she cradled him.

He did not have a name, not yet. His parents had died in a car accident a long time ago, leaving him with her.

He had their eyes, and their spirit.

“You don’t want to watch your television?” She asked. “No hologram fighting today?”

The boy shook his head. “I’m bored of them,” he said and he smiled up at her. “Your stories are more interesting.”

The woman looked at him, then licked her lips before beginning. “Okay, since you want, I will tell you one,” she said. “But you have to promise to never tell anyone. Not even your friends. Can you do that?”

The boy hesitated for a moment and then, he nodded his head.

“Then, I will tell you,” the woman said, “if you will listen. This is the history of a people. They have always been different, you see. Centuries ago, a ball fell onto the Earth and, one of their ancestors — Akino, the father — picked it up and it burnt his hand, but what he saw changed his life forever.

“It showed him the future, and the past, and the present. It became known as one thing and one thing only: The Sphere of the Ancients and they, became its guardians. For generations and generations, it has been passed down from parent to child and so on and so forth. But there is a test to make sure the descendant is worthy so the Sphere does not fall into wrong hands.”

“Where did the Sphere come from?” The little boy asked, his eyes wide.

“Some say the gods,” the old woman said, “some say the stars. But one thing is for sure, all the descendants carry a scar on their right palm, the Mark of Akino, where the sphere once burnt our founding father.” The old woman held out her right hand, showing him the concentric circles in black on it.

The boy did the same, showing the same marks.

“But what’s the test?” The boy asked. “To make sure a descendant is worthy?”

The woman smiled and put her hand in her shirt, fishing something out, keeping it balled in her hand. “It is a test for the search of knowledge,” she said, “it is just a question, a simple one. But one that needs to be asked: will you tell me a tale?”

She opened her palm and the sphere of the Ancients glowed brightly, churning with power, and it called to the boy to take it.

And he did.

Anthony Azekwoh is a Nigerian-based author and artist. He has written five books so far, and is now working on the sequel to his fourth book Ṣàngó, Oya.