Traditions. Feasts of turkey and cranberries at Thanksgiving.
Remembering the spirit of forgiveness at Yom Kippur. Icicles
and angels on Christmas trees. Birthday cakes. Wedding albums.
Funeral processions. Music, lively or somber, appropriate
to the occassion. The sequined dress or tuxedo for New Year's
Eve; the blue gown with tassled mortarboard for graduation.
All of this has come naturally to most of the X-men. Their
cultures. Their beliefs. Their rites and rituals.
In the Baoule tradition of unity, Storm respectfully deferred
to her fellow mutants by adapting to and observing these customs
as faithfully as if they were her own. If many of her customs
were sacrificed over the years, to put their minds at ease,
still, she never faltered in the one belief that it was all
towards the greater good: strengthening the solidarity of
This night, beneath stars that shine as brightly here as
over her West African homeland, Ororo takes comfort in the
presence of her loved ones as she again embraces the ancestral
burial rites. For some, such as Forge and Remy LeBeau, the
Baoule religion of nature spirits is not so far removed from
their own spirit-based beliefs. For others, such as Professor
Xavier and Jean Grey, there is a fascinated interest in the
foreign experience of such an intimate moment with a dear
friend. Yet for Scott Summers and Bobby Drake, there exists
only an uneasy acquiesence to this ceremony.
A drum sounds, carried along the evening breeze across the
eastern ridge of the Xavier estate. A member of the village
has died. And so it begins. Ororo approaches Professor Xavier
and kneels respectfully. She bows her head to the ground.
Though she speaks in both the African tongue and English,
the psi-link shared by the X-men conveys both meaning and
emotion, guiding them in the appropriate responses.
"Rochelle o asaki."
Rochelle has been broken.
Broken, not dead. For it would be an unpardonable breach
of manners to so rudely state that one of their own was deceased.
"Forgive me for neglecting this child of the village
who was in my care. If Nyamia is willing, I ask your permission
to prepare her path to blolo, the village of truth."
Professor Xavier rests his hand on Ororo's bowed head.
"You are forgiven. May Rochelle speak well of you to
your ancestors in blolo. May Nyamia, the god of heaven, be
She rises, moves on to Jean, kneels. Again, the request for
forgiveness. Again, she is forgiven and sent on her way with
the appropriate response. Each person is approached, each
is petitioned for forgiveness.
Remy watches, feeling his throat tighten as Ororo's progression
brings her nearer. He knows, he knows, that Rogue's
body is only being used to represent Rochelle. Yet, through
the psi-link, Ororo's grief stirs memories of his own loss
when he believed Belladonna had died. The thought of seeing
Rogue on the funeral bier, apparently lifeless, marks him
as deeply as Rochelle's death has wounded Storm.
"May Nyamia, the god of heaven, brighten your face."
Ororo gracefully rises from Henry's feet and approaches Remy.
Before she can kneel, a single thought touches her mind, clear
and quick, but full of pain.
You forgiven, padnat.
She gently takes Remy's face in her hands, turning him to
her. Her long, smooth fingers brush the dampness from his
eyes. Through her sorrow, he senses an inner peace that comes
from seeing her goddaughter properly laid to rest. The glow
of quiet joy shines through Ororo's tears, the mix of bitter
with sweet, in knowing that Rochelle is journeying to a better
place. Ironic that her thoughts should be the ones comforting
his at this time.
He forces a smile. Takes her hands in his and squeezes them
"Mais oui. Nyamia watch over you, neh?"
Continued in Chapter
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