“We will give the Desert Fox time to return with a whale and see if she leads us to the kidnappers. If she doesn’t return in five days, we should confront the Storm Mother ourselves.” You don’t really want to deal with the hag, but you can’t sit by and let the village starve.
Wanahton grunts in agreement and walks outside to sit on the porch and smoke. You get undressed and lay down in your hammock. Mei Mei jumps up and snuggles down next to you. As you scratch the puppy behind the ears, you hope you made the right decision.
The next day at school, you watch the trees outside the windows for any signs of birds or other strange animals. The Desert Fox said that she would be back in a few days, but she could have been lying to keep you off guard.
“Svante!” You jump when you hear the teacher yell your name. “Were you paying attention?”
“Yeah. Of course.” You learned from watching the other students that answering truthfully to that question got you extra chores at the end of the day.
“Then answer the question.” The teacher walks over and stares down at you.
Shit. What question? You try to think back and remember what the class was talking about. This teacher didn’t keep to a consistent schedule like Owl did, so the question could be anything from when did storm season start to Algebra. You notice Tri adjusting her faded textbook, so you could read the page.
The White Sea. The class is talking about the White Sea. You start reciting everything you know about the White Sea, hoping that one of the random facts you are spouting would answer the teacher’s question. After a few minutes, you notice that the teacher is staring at you slack jawed in shock. You shut your mouth and slouch down in your chair.
When the teacher regains her wits, she hollers, “Svante! Outside!” You slowly follow the teacher outside, wondering just how much trouble you are in.
“Svante, where did you get all that information about the White Sea?” Your stomach turns at the teacher’s question. While you were considered a poor student by the Owl, compared to a mortal, you knew a great deal about well… everything. In trying to avoid detention, did you blow your cover?
“I’ve been to the White Sea with my father.” You lie, reminding yourself to tell Wanahton about this later.
“I see…” The teacher crosses her arms and taps her fingers. “Svante, this just proves to me that if you put some effort in your school work, you could be at the top of the class. I hate to see such potential wasted….” The teacher echoes a familiar lecture; one you have heard from the Owl many times. Relieved that you have kept your cover, you nod at appropriate points in the lecture. “Now, I am going to assign you to help Kekipi with his Geography. Perhaps stories of your travels in the North will ignite his curiosity…”
Three days later, you and Raharjo are throwing Whale Spears on the Shogunate Dock Tri tries to get him interested in other non-whale hunting activities, but in every free moment he had, Raharjo practiced. Seeing Raharjo and Tri together reminds you of Chiyoko. You missed the fire haired girl and you were worried that she would forget what little she remember about you. The sooner you got this mission done, the sooner you could go home. But the kidnappers had not made an appearance yet and you were stuck on this little island until they did.
So you joined Raharjo everyday for practice. Wanahton, upon seeing your interest in Whale Hunting, made you your own spear. Working with the Whale Spear was difficult and physically intensive work that kept your mind off of your mission, the Lunar Anathema, and Chiyoko.
You swim to retrieve your spear from the water and headed towards Raharjo on the dock. You hold your spear out for Raharjo to grab when you notice that he is not paying attention to you, but instead looking out towards the ocean. “Raharjo?” you swim away from the dock and look out towards open ocean. At first you couldn’t see anything interesting out there, but then you see a spray rise.
“Whale?” you ask.
Raharjo smiles. “Whale.” He runs down the dock towards the village, screaming. “Whale! Whale!”
She did it. The Lunar brought back a whale. Shivering despite the warm tropical water, you slowly climb the dock. You turn around and watch the ocean, looking for the Lunar. You don’t see the Desert Fox, but she could be anywhere.
The whole village scrambles towards the shore, where the boats are waiting. You and Wanahton help push out one of the village boats and once the water is deep enough, you jump in.
Looking back at the shore, you see Mei Mei struggling in Tri’s arms. You give the puppy the hand signal for “Stay” and Mei Mei stops trying to get away.
Together with the villagers you paddle out towards the whale. When you were much younger, Akachi took you whale watching. You sat on the beach with the Elder and watched the majestic animals jump out of the water. You were amazed at how such a large creature could jump so high. Now that you were coming alongside the whale, it seems impossibly large. How could anyone hunt down such a creature?
As one of the villagers prepared to make the first jump, Wanahton whispered into your ear. “Try not to glow, but I don’t want you to die trying to hide what you are.”
You nod and looked towards the boat where Rahajro sits. The boy is watching the first spearman with an eager look on his face. Confidently, the spearman walks to the edge of the bamboo plank and jumps. He releases the spear at the whale and it hits the water. He missed! The spear glances off of the whale and floats loose in the water. The spearman swims back to his boat.
One of the rows motions to Rahajro and the boy takes his spear and slowly walks to the plank. Rahajro watches the whale for a moment before jumping.
“Quick, Rahajro. Before the whale dives.” One of the villagers tells him.
Rahajro holds out a hand and continues to watch the whale. With a determined look on his face, Rahajro leaps into the air and throws his spear at the whale. The water clouds red with blood as the spear impales itself into the whale’s flesh.
You cheer at your friend’s success. “Quickly, Svante.” Wanahton hands you your spear. “The whale will bring the other boat down, if he dives.” You gingerly walk the bamboo plank and grip the spear tightly.
You watch the whale thrash in pain, trying to discern a pattern in its movements. The enormity of what you are about to do hits you. This magnificent creature will die. Your eyes water as see the entire life history of this whale. The battles it has fought. The calves it has father. The predators it has escaped.
For every ending there is a new beginning. You jump off of the plank and aim your spear at the whale. This whale’s death will breathe life into this village. You release the spear and watch it sail through the air. Your spear pierces the whale. You are not powerful enough yet to bring this whale closer to its end and that saddens you. Such a creature should have a clean death.
Instead you watch as the whale drags the boats around, unable to dive deep to escape the hunters. One of the boats gets swamped by the whale, but no one is hurt. The waters tinge red as the whale bleeds out. Eventually, the whale tires and floats to the surface. One of the village elders leaps on to the whale’s back and cuts its spinal cord. It is over. The whale is dead.
The bloody waves splash over your face and you can taste the coppery saltiness of the whale’s blood. The villagers cheer at you and Raharjo. You brought down a whale! The village will not starve!
An overwhelming sense of danger overcomes you for a moment. Suddenly something brushes just under your feet in the water. “What was that?” You hear Rajarjo ask. You swim over to the whale and as you try to pull a spear out of the corpse, the shaft slips out of your hand. The whale is moving! Your heart pounds as large tentacles encircles the corpse of the whale and begins to drag it under.
“Gods…. What is that?” “It’s one of the Storm Mother’s Creatures!” The villagers shout as watch their hard earned whale disappears under the red waves.
You search beneath the surface of the water but the whale’s blood obstructs your view. The Lunar has stolen the whale!
What do you do?
- Get everyone the fuck out of the water!
- Get the villagers back to shore and look for the whale with Wanahton. You are going to get the whale back, no matter what!
- Get everyone back into the boats and look for the Whale, while you and Wanahton look for the Lunar.