THE FIFTH SEASON meets THE HATE U GIVE in a colonial West Africa-inspired setting:
Decades after battling demons underground for metal ore, retired hellwalker Aj Asedi confronts a new monster: the Hada Empire’s occupation of his home town. When his oldest friend is unjustly cut down by Hada soldiers’ machetes, Aj turns his death into a rallying cry. He will sacrifice anything to secure his people’s safety, even resurrecting broken magic from the pits he used to mine.
Aj’s stories grew empty after magic’s death. He didn’t speak of the hell young ones knew, so the children greeted his past with glazed eyes. The type of stare that told him the world below was truly silent. That he should let it sleep and stick to carving the mining staffs.
At least the children found excitement in the staffs. Adisa and Nari played with the pile of wood shavings growing at the base of Aj’s stool. Though carving inside made a mess, having Esojo’s children around made it bearable. When Aj and Esojo were done, the kids swept the sawdust out of Aj’s hallway and into the streets. Until then, they bounced between Aj and their father, placing bets on whose staff would knock down the most demons when it was handed over to the diving crews. Esojo chuckled at their squabbling. He laid the half-finished staff across his lap, his skin several shades darker than the beige wood.
“What do you all know about diving anyway? You two been sneaking off down there when we’re not looking?”
With a furrowed brow and black eyes, Nari became a mirror of his father. Aj smirked as the boy slammed a little fist against the clay floor.
“Watch out Ba,” Nari said. “I can take down more demons than you or Uncle Aj.”