62 – Cobalt Atoll

“Wanahton and I can don our Resplendent Destinies and take the boat to the Island to find out more information.    Sasha, you stay on the Valiant Hummingbird with Captain Shen and patrol the waters around the Cobalt Atoll.  If you see the barge, then intercept it.”

Sasha nods, “We don’t know how long it will take for the barge to show up.  We need to set up a daily contact.  Just in case someone happens to you on the island.  ”

You consider this.  “I can use my cloak to fly out to you every couple of days.”

Captain Shen closes his eyes and whistles.   The whistle echoes strangely in the cabin.  With a flutter of wings, a small cherub appears in the room.   “I can send a messenger each day at sunset to check in on you.”

That afternoon, you watch as the crew prepare to lower Wanahton’s boat into the water.

“Are you sure it won’t raise any questions?  ”  Wanahton asks Sasha.

“It will be fine.  “ Sasha repeats, rubbing the bridge of her nose.

“Svante looks nothing like me.  There is no way he is my son.  People will notice and ask questions.”

Sasha shrugs, “The Resplendent Destiny quiets most questions.  People will notice, but they will simply assume that he takes after his mother.  Or that he is adopted.  Or that you were cockled.   They won’t draw attention to any inconsistences as long as you don’t bring them up.  “

“Even the fact that we showed up in a boat looking like that?”   you point out.   Wanahton’s sailboat looks too small to survive a trip over open ocean.  You think back to the time when you were Cnead Svante and Aiko badgered you with questions.    You hope the island didn’t have any pesky redheaded Earth Aspects on it.

“People travel the ocean in boats like this all the time.  ”   Wanahton assures you.

“Most of them don’t make it to their destination.”  Captain Shen interjects.

“Mortals are capable of a lot more than you give them credit for, Captain.” Wanahton begins to toss supplies onto the boat.  “No one would go on these journeys unless they were sure of success.”

The captain grunts at this.  “This current will take you past the Cobolt Atoll.”   The dark blue water of the current stands out against the rest of the sea.  “With these winds, you should be there by first light tomorrow.”

Wanahton helps you and Mei Mei into the sail boat.  You wave at Sasha as the boat is lowered into the water.   Once you are far enough away, Wanahton raises the sail and you start to slowly drift away from the Valiant Hummingbird.  You sigh in frustration and sit down in the boat.

“What’s wrong?”

“Everything is taking a long time.”

“Patience.  It will take as long as it will take.”

You have some time to kill, so you ask, “Shen said that you were hunted by the Wyld Hunt.”

“Captured.”

“Captured?”   You were surprised.   “Why didn’t they kill you?”

“Tanith Losa, the leader of the hunt, wanted to, but Shen talked his captain into bringing me back to the Blessed Isle instead.   When we arrived at the Isle, Elder Akachi was there waiting for me.   Losa didn’t want to give me up and made a bit of a fuss. “   You have a feeling that Wanahton was understating how much of a fuss this Tanith Losa caused.   “But Elder Akachi is a smooth talking bastard and talked him out of killing me.”

“Why did the Wyld Hunt take you?  You don’t have an Anathema Caste Mark.”

“Tanith Losa considers anyone with an caste mark Anathema. ”

“But that is crazy!  The Immaculate Texts say…”

“For some, it doesn’t matter what the Immaculate Texts say.   They believe that the texts don’t go far enough.  Fortunately, Dragon bloods like Tanith Losa are few. “  Wanahton motions you over.  “Come help me with the boat.  It will make time pass faster.”

The Cobalt Atoll is a ring shaped island with a shallow lagoon.  In the predawn light, you see a brightly dressed woman wave at you from the shore.  Mei Mei jumps out of the boat and starts to swim to where she is standing.   “Mei Mei!”  you yell.

“Someone is in a hurry to get on dry land.”   You and Wanahton jump out of the boat and drag it to shore.   A bit unsteady on your feet after a week on a ship, you slowly walk over to the woman.  Mei Mei, looking more like a drowned rat than a fluffy puppy, is enthusiastically licking the woman’s face.

“Are you the welcoming committee?”  Wanahton asks as he plods down on the sandy shore.

“Ha!  I’m just the most eager to see a new face.  We don’t get many visitors here.  My name is Batari.”   She sets the puppy down.  “Come.   You must be tired after your travels.  “   The woman heads towards a small settlement.   As you and Wanahton walk past the huts, you notice that there were not that many of them.   “Where is everyone?”

“The men already out fishing.  Most everyone else is still asleep.”   Batari leads you to one of the larger huts in the village.  “This is the shrine for the Island Goddess.”   She pushes aside a brightly colored curtain and gestures for you to take a seat on some cushions.   After settling you with some fresh fruit, Batari asks, “What brings you to Cobalt Atoll?”

“Never been here before.”   Wanahton says, taking a bite out of a Papaya before continuing.   “My son and I have travelled around most of Creation and decided to check out this chain of islands.”

“Interesting.  You have chosen a poor time to visit our atoll.   I don’t know if you have heard but children have gone missing from some of the neighboring islands over the past few weeks. ”
Wanahton sets his fruit aside and says, “I’ve heard about that.   Do you have any idea what is going on?”

“From what I heard, the children go to bed and when the parents wake up, they are gone. “

“Do you have any children?”  Wanahton quickly pick up his fruit before Mei Mei could steal it off of the table.

“In a sense everyone on this island are my children.”

We are in the shrine.  “You are the Goddess of Cobalt Atoll,” you realize.

The goddess’ skin turns from golden brown to scales of a deep iridescent blue and her brown hair turned bright orange.  Her flat black eyes turn to you.  “Your son is perceptive.  You are welcome to stay here, but it may be safer to move on. “

“We will take our chances.”  You offer the rest of your fruit to the puppy who happily takes it to a corner to eat it.

“Ask for Mawar.  She will find you a place to stay.”

“Thank you for your hospitality.”   You and Wanahton bows deeply.  When you look up the goddess is gone.

Mawar is a widow who is related to almost everyone on the island.  She is overjoyed to have company and lets you stay in her hut.  Over the next few days, you and Wanahton get settled in on the island.   Wanahton joins the other men on their fishing trips.   You are forced to go to school with the rest of the kids.

“Why should I go to school?  I know more than the teacher! “  You argue.  This mission had a lot more studying and book work than you ever imagined.

“We are supposed to blend in.  Do you think I enjoy getting up early for fruitless fishing trips? “

“How about you go to school and I go fishing?”  you suggest.

“No.   You go to school and get to know the other children.   Ask them questions.  They might know more than they realize.”

You leave the hut and walk around the village.   Mei Mei follows you and sniffs around.  It doesn’t take too long as the village is very small.  This was one of the most popular islands in the chain?   You glance down the dock on the outer edge of the island ring.   The dock is barely used except for visiting Shogunate Naval ships.  You walk down the dock and stare out at the sea, searching for the Valiant Hummingbird.

Mei Mei barks once and you look up to find one of the boys from school walking up the dock.  In his hand is a handmade spear.  “You looking for a whale?”  he asks.

“No, is there a reason why I should be looking for a whale?”

“A Whale would feed us for at least a month.”  The boy informs you.   He shifts his spear from one hand to the other.

“What, you are going to hunt the Whale?” you ask facetiously.

The boy smiles.  “Maybe.  If the elders decide that I am old enough.”   He hands you his spear.  “I’ve been working on my spear.”

You take the spear and examine it.   It is a long metal pole with a metal hook at the end.  You’ve seen better, but you say “It’s a nice spear.”  You hand the boy back his spear.

“Has your father taught you how to make a spear yet?”

“No,”  When you see the look of pity on the boy’s face,  you quickly amend “We travel around a lot, so there hasn’t been time.”

“I heard you arguing with him in Mawar’s hut.  It must be hard traveling around, not belonging anywhere.  What language were you speaking?”

“Earthtongue.”  You were actually speaking Spiritspeech but hope the boy wouldn’t know the difference.

The boy smiles.  “That is what they speak on the Isle.   How about this:  you teach me Earthtongue and I teach you how to make a spear and hunt whales?”

“Okay.” You agree.   You were curious as to how a mortal managed to hunt a whale.  “What’s your name?”

“Raharjo.  What’s yours?”

“Svante.”   You spend the rest of the afternoon learning about Whale Hunting.   The basic principle involved a fleet of ships and jumping off of the boat to stab the whale.  Raharjo throws a few bamboo hoops into the water and you take turns jumping into the water aiming his spear inside the hoops.  You teach Raharjo a few words in Earthtongue and he repeats them back in a thick unintelligible accent.  Later, you and Raharjo head back to the village to look for dinner.

Raharjo waves down some of the other kids.  “You eating at home tonight, Tri?”

“Nah.”  One of the girls answers.  “Ma has to feed the babies.   I was going to go spider hunting, did you want to come?”

“Spiders?” you ask.   “I thought they went fishing today?”

“No fish, so we are on our own for dinner. “  The girl looks over Raharjo’s spear.  “The goddess didn’t send a whale yet, did she?”

“Nah.  I’d be making a racket if I saw a whale.”

They don’t have enough food to feed everyone!  You realize.

What do you do?

  • Head back to the hut and let the kids fend for themselves.  You have bigger problems to worry about than hungry kids
  • Offer food from you and Wanahton’s store.  You can’t let these kids go hungry if you have food.
  • Eat Spiders with the other kids.  You have never had a spider before.
  • Talk to the Goddess about the Whale.  Why hasn’t see sent one yet?
  • Other

((I’m house ruling that Infallible Messenger can do two way communication.  I’ve seen it down in two different unconnected games.  ))

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