“In the boat! In the boat!” One of the village elders reaches out and drags you back into the boat. Frantically, the villagers start rowing back to shore. Once your boat lands, you leap out and race towards Wanahton’s boat. Wanahton is already there, pushing it out to sea.
“What are you doing, boy?” Wanahton scowls at you, when you jump into the boat.
“I’m getting my whale back.” You will not let the Desert Fox take your whale. You worked too hard for it.
“That is not a very bright idea. No way can the two of us take that monster in water.”
“And one person will be better?!” Wahanton was crazy if he thinks you are going to let him go alone.
“I’m not a very bright man.” Wanahton switches to Spiritspeech. “Stay here in case the Lunar circles back around and attacks the villagers. I’ll find the whale.”
Shit. He’s right. You groan and jump out of the boat and head towards the group of villagers huddled together on the shore. Wanahton paddles back towards the blood tingled waters.
“Is your father mad? Going after that monster all by himself?” Raharjo stares at Wanahton in astonishment as tall bronze man paddles aimlessly around the water.
“Yeah. He does stupid shit like that all the time.” You shrug and keep an eye out for any strange animals in the area.
“It’s back!” Raharjo cries happily. You look out over the ocean and see the whale bobbing next to Wanahton’s boat. He ties a rope around the whale and begins to tow it back to shore. The villagers rush out into the water and help drag the whale’s corpse onto the shore.
“Dragons! It mangled our whale!” Tri exclaims. The belly of the whale has been torn open and the majority of its innards are missing. “Meat looks okay!” The villagers cheer and begin to set out smoking racks for the meat.
As the villagers prepare, you take a closer look at whale. The heart, lungs, stomach, and all of the intestines are missing. The Heart…
“The Desert Fox has a way to follow the barge now.” You tell Wanahton as he walks up to you.
“It looks like it.” He lights his pipe.
“What were you doing out there?” Wanahton didn’t seem to be doing much of anything out on the boat.
“I asked my water elemental friend to search for the whale.”
“You have a water elemental friend?”
“You have a talking spider, I make friends with elementals.” Wanahton takes you by the shoulder. “Come on. Let’s help carry wood for the fires.”
The villagers efficiently butchered the whale. One team sawed meat off of the carcass and another group cut the meat into smaller pieces. It was gory work, but the villagers sang with happiness as they passed each other bloodly cuts of meat. Mei Mei made a nuisance of herself, going person to person begging for scraps. Fires were built to smoke the meat and keep the flies away.
At sunset, one of the village elders smeared ritual markings made of whale fat and blood on your forehead and chest. Carrying offerings of whale meat and fresh fruit, you and Raharjo were presented to the goddess of the shrine. Batari should be thanking me, you think as you recite the prayers thanking the goddess for sending the whale. You were the one that talked the Lunar into bring the whale to the island.
After the ceremony, the villagers built large bonfires on the beach. They gorged on whale meat and jugs of rum were passed around. Raharjo passed you the jug and you took a swig. You almost spit the liquor out onto the sand. It was like fire pouring down your throat. This island rum was nothing like the wines you had back in Yu-Shan.
“Too strong for you?” Raharjo stares at you with glassy eyes.
“Nah.” You take another swig to prove that you could and try not to cough after you did. Raharjo laughs and you passed the jug to the next person.
The village spent most of the night celebrating. Eventually, the fires died down and everyone broke off into smaller groups to talk and drink. Perhaps it was the rum because in spite of your best intentions, you lulled asleep by Wanahton talking about fishing.
You are awakened when someone kicks sand in your face. You groggily brush the sand away and try to go back to sleep. That is when you realize it too quiet. Something is wrong. You focus on the thread of fate. Danger! You abruptly sit up.
All the adults are deeply asleep around you. The dazed children are slowly making their way to the docks.
“Tri!” you grab the girl’s arm as she walks past. “Where are you going?”
“Can’t you hear it?” She asks, staring off in the distance.
“Hear what?” You didn’t hear anything except for the surf.
“The music…. It’s beautiful.” She tries to pull away from you but you hold her fast.
“What music?! Tri, you can’t go!” Raharjo is still on the ground sleeping. “Wake up! “ You kick him with your foot, but Raharjo doesn’t rouse.
“Let me go!” Tri yells, fighting to pull away. Despite the commotion she is making, none of the adult villagers wake up.
Wanahton lifts his head and rubs the sleep out of his eyes. “Wha?”
“The kidnappers are here! None of the adults are waking up!” You struggle with Tri. “Stop fighting me! “
“The barge.” Wanahton heads back to the hut.
Tri bites your arm, drawing blood. “Ow!” You let her go and she races to catch up with the rest of the children. Wanahton returns with the packs you prepared for the barge. You pick up a sleeping Mei Mei and head towards the Shogunate Dock. The large hulking shape of the barge darkens the end of the Shogunate Dock. Wanahton sucks in air at the sight of it and motions you to hide in the mangroves.
Creeping though the mangroves, you see a tall, long eared figure standing on the edge of the dock. Washed out in the bright moonlight, the androgynous figure wears pale armor of skittering starfish. Its barnacle encrusted fingers play a small flute made of translucent green glass. Hungry eyes watch the island children as they skip and laugh along the dock towards the hulking barge.
The Fair Folk have come to harvest the children.
What do you do?
- Step out of Fate and follow the children onto the barge
- Take your cloak and follow the barge by air
- Go with Wanahton on his boat and follow the barge by sea
What should Wanahton do?
- Take his boat and head back to the Valiant Hummingbird
- Take his boat and follow the barge
- Stay on the island and consult the soon to be grieving parents
((The Maidens conspired to delay this post, but I got it done! And then I realized I forgot to include Mei Mei. Doh! ))