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“Aloha,” The fresh-faced, beautifully tan Hawaiian hula girl smiled at me and my friends. When she recognized our faces she bowed into a graceful curtsy. “Welcome to the Festival of the Tribes.”
The tall wooden gates of the private beach creaked open for us and the noise of the festivities rushed towards me. The full moon hung low in the darkened blue sky. The first thing I notice are the large amounts of people that I don’t recognize immediately. Excitement twirls in my stomach and I bounce up and down while I walk. Mila, my best friend, glares at me and grabs my arm.
“Lucy, be cool.” She whispers harshly.
I compose myself quickly but have to hold back a giggle. As Mila, Alana, Sebastian, Alec, and I walk down the sandy path to the beach; I try to gulp up every image that I see. This night only comes once a year. To my right are several wooden stages with hula dancing, Tahitian performances, and singers. Palm trees bend side ways over the beach and the tense tropical forestry lines the private area. To my left are men juggling fire and open bars with sweet-smelling drinks and fruits. I hear steel drums and ocean waves and lots of chatter. I see distant bonfires closer to the water with laughing friends sitting in the sand, most likely telling stories of the year. Everything about this festival feels like the most thrilling day of the year. If this was any other night, tensions would be high with all the Hawaiian tribes together in one place, interacting. Boys and girls would shy away from each other in fear of testing the law. Dating between tribes is forbidden, but everyone also knows that even liking someone from another tribe is strongly looked down upon. Tonight no one cares. Tonight, this festival is like eating the forbidden fruit without consequence.
I couldn’t decide which way I wanted to turn first; the music, the food, the dancing? But, my friends decide for me. As soon as they catch the sight of some people out ripping up the full moon waves, they nearly sprint for the ocean. Mila grabs me and pulls me with her before I can even argue. Pookie, my little puppy was following us close behind and now breaks into a care-free, joyful run with his tongue flapping out the side of his mouth.
I try not to notice the way people look at us as we pass them. Some are a little wide-eyed and others smile humbly in our direction. To everyone who recognizes us, we are a band of teenage Hawaiian royalty. I forget to blush and hide from their eyes tonight because tonight, I just don’t care if they look at me like that. My mother had found me a nice dress to wear. It was silky white and a came a little above to my knees in front, but in back swished past my ankles. The collar of the sleeveless dress is rimmed with shimmering gold hearts. Everyone told me that it was fitting of my personality.
No matter that all of us had attempted to dress nice tonight, we are islanders. We are always up for a good surf. Sebastian called out bravely to the strangers splashing up the shore.
“Hey, mind if we take a ride?” He attempts a friendly smile, but it doesn’t quite reach his eyes. Typical Sebastian, but it is probably to dark for the strangers to notice. They walk closer and look us up and down. Sebastian and Alec, being the warriors that they are, puff up their chests and return the stare-down. Alana and Mila smile sweetly in the buff men’s direction while I just admire the large cresting of the waves.
Tonight is a good night for surfing. The glowing of the moon is flickering across the black ocean, so it’s not completely pitch black. If we were novice surfers, this might be dangerous. But, every Hawaiian in all four tribes has been doing this since they were three years old. Pookie runs around my ankles impatiently, his soft black fur brushing against my legs.
“What tribe are you from?” The largest of the strangers asks not unkindly. I try to guess which tribe they are from. They are all buff, but not exceedingly so. They are leaner. Plus, I had caught sight of their impressive surfing skills. Definitely from Oahu. Kona tribe.
“Mahina tribe.” Sebastian replied proudly. The stranger nodded then broke into a pearly white smile.
“Of course! It’s rough out there, but go ahead.” The group passed their surfboards over to Sebastian, Alec, Mila, and Alana. There was not a board left for me. Mila looked at me regrettably.
“That’s okay, I’ll just judge.” I laugh it off and then they take off into the moon-kissed ocean. I take a seat in the cool sand and the strangers sit next to me. I feel a little nervous being alone with them but realize that there are tons of people near by and they seem nice enough.
“Mahina tribe, huh?” The stranger asks me. “Are you guys royals?”
I blush and look down, petting Pookie. “Yeah…I’m Lucy, by the way.”
“Jacob,” He responds with a smile.
“How did you know we are royals?” I wonder curiously. Pookie walks over and sniffs Jacob cautiously.
“You’re all beautiful, of course.” Jacob responds bravely. I laugh out loud and look away, feeling my face heat up.
It’s true; Mila and her long limbs and chestnut hair could knock anyone dead. Alana’s smile was electric white and expertly seductive. Alec is the perfect tall, dark, and handsome man with a silent personality. And Sebastian of course is prince charming incarnated with auburn hair, hazel eyes, and next in line to be chief of our tribe. Mila is a tribal princess, Alec is a warrior, Alana is a the tribes prophetess, and I’m in line to be the next healer. There is no way that Jacob could have guessed that from just looking at us.
Pookie begins to bark at Jacob and his eerily silent friends.
“What has gotten into you?” I snap at him. He doesn’t stop barking. I sigh and stand up.
“Sorry guys, I’m going to have to take him home. Nice meeting you.” I wave goodbye to them and walk closer to festival. Thankfully, my dog follows. It was strange that he is acting so jumpy, this wasn’t like him. Once we are away from the tide, he stops barking. I take that as a good sign and can’t resist stopping at the smoothie bar set up by the flame-twirling performers. I don’t feel too back for abandoning my friends, they wont miss me. In fact, they will probably spend the whole night out on the waves. Pookie sits down patiently while I take a seat at the tropical bar. After ordering a refreshing fruit smoothie, I become hypnotized by the Traditional Hawaiian fire dance. In the dark of the night, the fire illuminates the beautiful Hawaiian man as he twirls and tosses the flaming stick above his head and behind his back. Super fast-paced, entrancing drums beats are keeping the beat of the magical performance. Wow, I think to myself. He spins it faster and faster in one has until the golden-yellow light becomes a blurry orb of fire and then he tosses it in the air with mighty confidence.
Right when he catches the stick, a surprising burst of thunder shakes the sky. My heart drops. Will this night really be ruined by a rain storm? I realize that the air is already thick with humidity and the possibility for warm rain. I look down at Pookie and…he’s not there. I jump up and look around. Feet away, I see the small dog sprinting and barking in the direction of the jungle.
“Pookie!” I yell, confused. I quickly chase after him, feeling the eyes of several people following me. “Pookie, bad dog! Come back!”
My pretty sandals squish into the soft mud that signifies that this is changing from the sandy beach to the spooky jungle. I have no choice though. I run away from the sound of the music and towards the sound of my hysterical barking dog. What is going on? I hadn’t realized how fast my dog can actually go as I chase after Pookie breathlessly. I hear a loud snap to my left in the jungle and freeze in fear. A moment passes and nothing happens. I whimper in fear when I realize that I’m way down the beach, away from everyone else, half way in the jungle, at night, and Pookie has now officially disappeared from my view.
“Pookie!” I shout in a shaky voice. I move forward slowly, scanning the trees. Where would my dog be heading? Home? Towards food? Towards the water? None of those things are in this direction. I gulp and try to hold back my fear. A bright shock of lightning lights up the jungle brilliantly, thunder following its tail. Distantly, I hear Pookie’s sharp bark. I run as fast as I can in that direction, which is towards the small cove down the beach. I emerge back onto the sandy shore again thankfully, but this slows down my run. Soft sand kicks up under my heels and attacks my dress. Now my shoes and dress are probably soiled for the night. I silently decide that once I get my dog back, I’m going home.
I get closer and closer to the barking as I jog up the beach, until I see Pookie sitting there, waiting for me.
“Ugh,” I moan while reaching down to pick him up. “I can’t believe you made me do that. Let’s go home.”
Right before I can snatch him out of the sand, he whimpers and shimmies away. Concerned, I squat down and touch his head gently. My sixth sense reaches out and inside him, looking to see if he is hurt in any way. My healer personality revolves around trying to fix people, but all I sense in Pookie is urgency and nervousness; no injuries. Pookie wiggles out of my palm and runs around a corn of rock wall, into the small cove on this side of the beach. I groan again. How long is this going to last?
Rounding the corner reluctantly, I freeze and let out a quiet gasp when I see three guys standing about twenty feet away. I jump behind a large rock near the waterline and see Pookie walking in their direction.
“Pookie you mangy mutt, get back here right now!” I shout-whisper. Pookie actually comes back and hides behind the rock with me.
I peak at the three men and take in their rigid, hard-jawed postures. Every muscle seems to be pulled tight. One of them I recognize as Dustin, from my tribe. Dustin’s fists are clenched and his whole face displays anger. The other two guys are strangers though. My eyes land on the first one; he had golden-drown locks with a gentle wave. His skin was luminous his eyes sparked. I realized that he was sweating and his eyes showed honest fear. Fear for what? The second stranger is the tallest of the three with shimmering black hair and manly scruff on his chin. I strain my ears to hear them better.
“This is stupid guys; you don’t need to do this! Let’s just go home, Max.” The first stranger grabs the second strangers arm and looks at him in the eyes, willing him to agree.
“I’m not going to let this scum step all over us, Wes.” Max responses with venom in his voice. Max rips out of his friend’s grip and looks at Dustin who has a wicked smirk on his face. My stomach drops low into my abdomen and I shiver a little at the scary energy filling the air. I feel something coming.
Dustin hears the insult of scum and his eyes ripple with anger. In a flash, Dustin whips out a pocket knife that glints in the moonlight. I gasp out loud, my heart fluttering in surprise and fear. Is this really happening?
“I challenged you! Be man enough to fight!” Dustin shouts at the stranger names Max. I watch Max’s face expression harden and he pulls out his own knife.
“Are you crazy!” The stranger named Wesley shouts furiously. He begins to walk between them, when Max shoves back.
“Stay back Wesley, this is my fight!” He yells.
The scene before me looks like an ancient painting. The men are standing ankle-deep in the frothing ocean tide with their bare-chested bodies gleaming in the moonlight. I take a shaky breath. What do I do? Just watch? Go tell someone? Try and stop it? I know I should go get help and stop cowering and eavesdropping but I can’t make myself move. If they get hurt, will I be able to help them? I don’t have enough training, I tell myself with out knowing whether it’s the truth or not.
Max and Dustin begin to circle each other with their muscles flexing and jaws clenched. Their knives are held expertly in their hands; both of their knuckles are white. Wesley is obviously in pain watching and I can see in his eyes that he isn’t going to let them hurt each other.
“This was a bad idea for you, Dustin.” Max growls at him as they continue to circle each other.
“You are nothing compared to me.” Dustin spits back. “You and all your people are useless, expendable warriors and I hope you all die in battle against my superior tribe.”
I am completely thrown off that Dustin would say something like that. I don’t know him that well but never saw this side of him. Everyone says crazy things when they’re mad though, right?
I watch in silent terror as Max’s eyes darken and he lunges at Dustin powerfully with his knife, letting out a scream. Dustin narrowly misses the surging weapon and he whips around quickly. Dustin jumps on Max and plunges him into the water forcefully. My heart thumps so quickly I can barely comprehend what I’m seeing. I feel a little dizzy as Dustin’s knife comes down on Max’s shoulder.
“NO!” The second stranger, Wesley, yells and jumps forward. With the power of a bull he knocks Dustin over into the bloody tide. I see blood coming from Max, but he gets up. I guess that Dustin must have just scratched him before Wesley jumped on him. Max pushed his furious friend away and grabs Dustin by the throat and lifts him up. Dustin fights out of his grasp and elbows him in the stomach, stumbling back.
I can’t believe I’m watching this. I can’t believe I’m watching this.
Can I heal the stranger? Should I? He is trying to kill someone from my own tribe! But, Dustin is trying to kill him. I can’t watch anyone die, it goes against every atom in my body.
Dustin starts taunting his opponents again. “I know your kind; simple-minded, filled with uncontrollable anger. I have seen your woman too, Max, and I wish I hadn’t. Too bad you aren’t good enough for a beautiful girl from my tribe.”
A wild, animalistic howl comes from the stranger and just like that, he rushes forward faster than Dustin can move and stabs him right in the stomach.
“Max!” Wesley cries in shock.
Watching the blood spurt from my neighbor’s stomach and trickle out of his mouth, I jump up from my hiding place and scream at the top of my lungs. Dustin’s eyes loose their light like a flame being extinguished and he flops over sideways into the ruby red water. I continue to scream blindly until I decide to do the smart thing. I turn towards the beach and begin to run.
“Lydia! Lydia! Help! He’s been stabbed! Help!” I run blindly with horrified tears streaming from my eyes. Pookie barks and sprints in front of me.
The people nearest to me listen to my words and begin to scramble. I continue to run towards a group of my tribe mates and spot Lydia, my tribe’s healer.
“Lydia,” I say breathlessly. She looks up at me with wide eyes. “Dustin has been stabbed. He is bleeding…he—he is in the cove…hurry!” I shout. She rushes to stand up, no matter her old age and begins to run. Dozens of others follow, shouting at each other. I feel really wobbly on my feet and nearly fall over, but then my friends emerge from the crowd. Mila runs to me and puts an arm around me to steady me.
“Oh my god, what happened?” Mila asks. She is dripping wet, along with my other friends. Alec, Alana, and Sebastian all look at me expectantly.
“I—I watched the whole thing. Dustin…he got into a fight with someone from the other tribe. He…he was stabbed!” I sob into her shoulder. “I didn’t think I could heal him! I was too scared!”
Mila comforts me silently then asks, “Where did this happen?”
I point down to the cove filling with people.
“Dustin…oh my god, Dustin…” Alana looks down at the sand and shivers. “Do you think Lydia can save him?”
“Lydia is a very experienced healer. She will fix him.” Sebastian replies methodically.
“Whoever did this…” Alec clenches his fists and stares down toward the cove. “They will not get away with it.”
All of my friends nod resolutely in agreement. I shiver and my stomach clenches when I see the same look in their eyes that I did in the two guys holding the knives.
“They were from the Noa tribe.” I suddenly remember to mention. The Noa tribe is the warrior tribe and based on what Dustin said, I know that’s their tribe.
“Who? I need to know their names.” Sebastian growls and suddenly turns a fierce expression on me.
I pause. The panicked, enraged, and regretful faces of the strangers I have come to know as Max and Wesley appear in my mind. Then I look at the bloodthirsty prince in front of me and I swallow the names on my tongue.
“I…I don’t know. Sorry.” My lie comes out shaky and Sebastian stares at me for a moment longer.
Out of the crowd next comes my father. He sees me and my friends and looks at us all sternly and seriously.
“Go home, now. All of you. This festival is over.” He meets all of our eyes so that we feel the full effect of his command, and then he leaves.
Part of me is so ready to be going home. Maybe I can go to sleep and wake up with this all just being a nightmare. But the other, more curious side of me is desperate to know if Dustin is okay. I admit to myself that what I really want to know though is what will become of the Noa tribe members. When Dustin is all fixed, which I’m sure that will happen soon since Lydia has been doing this for a long time, he will tell everyone what they did. Then what?
I don’t even want to think about, so I don’t.
The path back up the beach is flooded with whispering groups of teenagers who have been sent home reluctantly. We all begin to part ways towards our home. Alec and Alana both go to their separate houses. Sebastian walks home with purpose and vengeance, obviously on a mission. For what, that’s always a mystery. That leaves Mila and I to walk together
“I cannot believe you saw that…poor Dustin.” Mila tells me with wide, curious eyes.
“It’s not what you think.” I whisper to her harshly. “They didn’t want to fight him; in fact one was trying to hold his friend back! Dustin was taunting them and I think he might have challenged them to a fight.”
Mila growls like an animal. “There were two of them against Dustin and you are standing up for them? I’m just going to ignore that you just did that.”
My heart drops. I should have seen that coming. Loyalty to the tribe overrules all logic.
“You’re right, I’m sorry.” I mutter to her.
We come to my house first, just up the street from the beach. Sebastian and Mila both live at the top of the hill in the large mansion since they are both children of the chief. Mila hugs me and then we part ways.
I step into my house with a lump in my throat. I have a horrible feeling about what happened tonight. This is weird because Lydia has never failed to heal anyone before. But I remember, unfortunately, the dead look in Dustin’s brown eyes and the huge amount of blood in the water. Can Lydia bring people back from the dead?
I see Julian, Cole, and Kristopher, my brothers in the living room. Thankfully, my home is warmer than outside and I relish the feel of it. The sun had long since gone down and a light wind had begun to bother me. I let out a deep breath and join my siblings in our lavish living room, in front of the fire.
Our home is one of the bigger ones on this side of Kauai. This is only because our family can be traced from strong divine connections in this tribe. Royalty, of course, must have their castles. Our large tropical house though seems kind of small in comparison to the chief’s house. I would prefer a smaller, cozier beach house right on the sand than a large house.
“Where have you been?” Cole asks me suspiciously. “They closed down the festival a while ago.”
Cole is a couple years younger than me but acts like he is much older.
“I…I saw someone get hurt.” I say timidly. I take a seat next to Kristopher, my five year old younger brother. He immediately sits in my lap and continues to tinker with his little car toy.
“You were there? You saw?” Cole asks with wide-eyes. Pookie jumps up on the couch with me, always my little shadow. Julian raises an eyebrow at me. Julian is eighteen and is stoic like my father. Similar to Alec and Sebastian, he is a future warrior in our tribe. All three of my brothers have the sparkling blue eyes of our family.
“Yeah, I was, unfortunately.” I reply solemnly.
“Whoa, what happened? Was it a long fight? What weapons did they use? Did they fight with their bare hands? Did Dustin win? I bet he did win. I can’t wait to talk to him.” Cole babbles on excitedly and I sigh.
“Actually, Dustin didn’t win. I saw him get stabbed and then I ran to get help. That was about it.” I say bluntly. Cole closes his mouth and Julian looks soberly into the fire. Kristopher looks up at me with a cute little furrowed brow.
“Is Dustin going to be okay?” He asks in his cute little voice. I nod reassuringly and smooth down his chestnut hair.
“Don’t worry, Kris, we all know Lydia can handle it. Heck, Lucy probably could have even handled it.” Cole remarks.
I gulp and feel my gut twist. I take deep breaths to clam myself and I get lost in the hypnotic crackle of the fireplace. I tighten my arms around my little brother. The house is silent. We all know we are waiting for our parents to come home to give us the news of what happened. After what feels like two whole hours, my parents emerge into the house.
As soon as I see my parent’s expressions I know what happen. I stand up quickly and sit Kristopher back down on the couch. My mother’s beautiful face looks sickened and my father looks angry and shocked. Julian and Cole jump up as well.
“What happened?” Cole questions.
My mom and dad exchange a worried look and then my mom quietly walks to her room without a word.
“Dad?” I start timidly. He walks stiffly over to the couch and sits slowly. We all stare at him. He talks towards the fire with his jaw extremely tight.
“Lydia…couldn’t save him. The identity of the person who stabbed him is a mystery.”
“What? What do you mean she couldn’t save him?” Cole’s face is pained.
All of my insides are twisting and twirling in a mixing bowl of emotions. I feel shock that Lydia failed. I feel sadness for Dustin’s family. But, worst of all I feel relief. I feel relieved that Max and Wesley weren’t killed in response to Dustin’s death. This emotion makes me feel like I’m going to puke.
“Lydia is very old. This happens with age, her powers are failing. This large task was too much…Dustin was very badly injured.” My father says.
“So, Dustin he is really…?” Julian speaks in a hollow voice.
My dad looks him square in the eye and his voice echoes in my head.
“Yes, Dustin is dead at the hand of the Noa tribe.”
I had tried so very hard to keep the unwanted thoughts locked out of my mind, but in the middle of the night they broke in. I should have just stood up, walked to Dustin, healed him, and then tell everyone to forget this happened. No one would be hurting. Maybe I am being too hard on myself since I have only healed one other time in my life. It was my little brother Kristopher, a month ago. He had broken his leg running down a hill. His little legs could move fast enough and got caught up underneath him. I was there thankfully but we were all alone on a hike with my other brothers. I didn’t realize that the healing process was equally as painful as the injury itself. I didn’t know that I could have simply touched his forehead so that he was fall into a pain-free sleep. So, Kristopher cried and screamed the whole time. I healed his leg, but I haven’t been brave enough to try anything more than a scratch since then. How can it be so ironic that it hurts to fix the hurt? Or is that just life? Lydia has yet to teach me efficiently. This may seem surprising since it has been a month, but she claims to be a very busy woman. But now that she can’t do the job of healer anymore, I know she won’t be able to put off teaching me any longer.
The next morning after the festival I go straight to Lydia’s house. Like all the tribe members, her house is only a walking distance away. As I walk, I soak up the beautiful sun shinning, but realize that usually the typical mourning weather is rainy and windy, but the shimmering sun feels all too joyful for my comfort.
Lydia lives right on the edge of the beach. Typically, she would be living at the top of the mountain with the other higher-ranked tribe members, but she likes her ocean. Lydia has been my friend even before I found out that I am a healer like her. I have this weird intuition that Lydia has known all along what I’m capable of and that’s why she would give me more attention than the other teenagers my age.
Lydia’s house is a humble cottage by the roaring ocean. The door is left open as usual and I step right in. Her home is also her own clinic where anyone from the tribe is welcome at any time. Usually there at least a few people there at one time, but not this morning. Lydia’s house is all shiny black marble; the floors, countertops, and décor. The color comes from the many large aquarium fish tanks that she has. She has every colorful fish seen in the Hawaiian coral reefs, even some starfish and sharks. Incense is constantly creating misty, calming, sweet smells wafting throughout the area.
“Lydia?” I call when I don’t see her at first. She steps into the greeting area, from the back hall and smiles at me. I notice that her eyes are red and large, tired-looking bags have formed under her eyes. I wonder if she got any sleep last night. I now regret coming here and bothering her.
“I’m sorry; this probably isn’t a good time…” I turn, but she catches my arm.
“No dear, I know why you’re here and it’s about time that I did my job. Come to the back with me.” She takes me by the hand and I follow.
We enter her healing room which has a huge window on one wall that outlooks on the sea and brings in the heavenly sunlight. It smells of fruit and happiness in this room and puts a smile on my face.
“Look, you don’t have to do this now, but I just feel like…I should learn how to heal as soon as possible.” I speak quietly because I know that we both have guilt over the whole situation. Lydia nods exuberantly and pats me on the cheek.
“You are so right Lucy, right now is the perfect time.” Her lovely brown eyes still look weary, but I have always known her to push through no matter what.
A knock sounds on the door at that moment and Lydia smiles. “Now really is the perfect time.”
“Come on back!” She shouts towards the door. After a few moments, Adam comes into the room looking sheepish. Adam is a teenage member of the tribe with a taste for adventure, a magnet for trouble, and, of course, has constant injuries from his recklessness. I’m sure that Lydia and Adam have become great friends. He has longish black hair that is dripping water on the floor. Adam shifts from foot to foot, pursing his lips.
“Uh, Lydia, I don’t know if you can help, but…I fell on a sea urchin…” Adam holds up his hand which is swollen and covered in black speckles. “It stings.” He adds.
“Well, you are in luck, because Lucy is here! Oh, and I’m sure you don’t mind if we use you as a guinea pig, do you?” Lydia gestures for Adam to lie on the healing table similar to at the doctor office except this one is decorated with a pineapple and flower pattern. She uses her charmingly sweet smile on him that sparkles in her eyes. Adam hesitates for a moment, eyeing me, but then shrugs.
Lydia waves me closer and we both stand on one side of the nervous looking Adam.
“So, Lucy, lets begin. Based on how serious the injury, you may have to put the victim under. If it is an open gash or worse, you definitely need to. The sensation they get varies from each person and injury, but it is never comfortable.” Lydia looks me in the eyes severely and I see past experiences flashing in her expression. “The way that you knock someone out is simple; you place your hand right on the center of their forehead, you connect your internal mana to your fingertips and send a gentle shock into their system.”
Adam crinkles his forehead but I nod. Only a healer would understand what Lydia just explained because it comes naturally like that. Lydia motions towards Adam. I step forward and my throat goes a little dry. I slowly reach my hand to Adams forehead like he is an on-edge shark ready to bite. I place a finger in the center of his wet forehead. I close my eyes and concentrate.
Inside of my body, right at the top of my ribcage, in my chest, is an electric pool of energy. It is a constant awareness that I have. I focus on the energy and let it swirl to life slowly inside of me. It is a little hard to control, like real electricity or fire, and I have little to no experience. But, I guide it down my arm, to my hand. I shiver at the rare feeling. And then, after a moment of pause, I let a small sliver of energy connect with Adam. His eyes become clouded and then slowly close. He smiles while he sleeps. I laugh happily and look at Lydia. She smiles and nods in approval.
“Wake up, Adam.” After a few shakes from me, Adam awakes.
“What does it feel like to be healed?” I ask curiously.
Adam ponders this for a moment. “Well, with Lydia, it was like icy pain, but with you it was more…warm. I felt very dazed, but with Lydia I’m wide awake.”
Lydia nods her head. “Very interesting.”
I’m lost in this moment, wondering why Lydia, the one who seems like a warm person would have the opposite effect. I had always imagined healing would be more hotter than colder, but the idea intrigues me.
“Next, Lucy, the healing process. It is very important for you to know that you will need peace and concentration in order to heal correctly. If you do not concentrate, very bad things could happen, understand?” Lydia pierces me with her righteous eyes and I gulp and nod. Bad things? My stomach twirls.
“Like what?” I wonder shakily, but I can sense that she isn’t going to straight out tell me. She glances warily at Adam and then shakes her head.
“Nothing you need to worry about as long as you concentrate specifically on how much energy the wound needs to be healed. Internal injuries or illness’ require some more energy than external ones. Adam’s hand is a simple healing and he does not need to be knocked out for it. Once again, you must connect with him and never use too much energy. Too much of a good thing, can definitely make a bad thing.” Then Lydia tells me to heal Adam. He looks up at me with encouraging eyes and a charming smile. I take a deep breath and go for it before I get too scared.
I take his hand and he flinches in pain with the contact. My heart starts to beat a little faster but I find my peace and I concentrate on my pool of electricity, as I like to call it. I take a little more energy and it travels down my arms again. I shiver at the icy-hot sensation and then let it trickle out of my fingertips and onto Adam’s skin. This energy is not a visible thing, but it feels like a strong sixth sense to me. Adam bites his lip and I can tell it hurts a little. This doesn’t make me feel very good but I let out a deep breath. I watch as the palm of his large hand heats up under my touch and becomes red. I few second pass like this, but when the red, burn-like hue starts to fade, Adam’s skin is back to perfection. He grins happily at me.
“Wow, thanks Lucy. Good job.” He pats me on the shoulder like a proud older brother and I laugh. He looks at Lydia and she nods. “See you around, guys!”
He leaves, but his cheerful energy stays behind and fills me. I smile excitedly at Lydia.
“It looks like the Mahina tribe has a new healer.” Lydia says with surprisingly happy eyes. I guess her retirement has been a long time coming.
“I’m happy to accept the job.” I respond.
The chief’s huge fist slams onto the table. My father accomplishes silence without a single word, as always.
“We will have order in this meeting.” His gravely voice rumbles throughout the room and everyone looks down at their hands like little kids getting in trouble. He meets my eyes and I look down in reverence. After another long pause, Maximus, my best friend, speaks up again.
“Nothing about this makes sense, Lio.” He says to my father. “A girl from the Mahina tribe saw me kill one of her own. How am I still here, alive?”
My heart drops a little realizing that if things went as they usually did, I would be without a best friend. My memory of the girl from last night is limited. I was so caught up with preventing the fight, for the very reason of the outcome that was inevitable, that after I heard a blood-curdling scream and looked over, I just barely caught a glimpse of her before she ran. Her long shimmering wave of pastel blonde hair was shocking, no doubt considering that we are Hawaiian and doesn’t have a blonde gene. The point is though, she ran to the Mahina tribe, called them by name, and was comforted by them. This only means that she is one of them. But, if she really did watch the whole thing, she should have known our names, or at least explained our faces. We ran before anyone else could see us. Max and I hid in the jungle and watched the whole thing unfold.
“That,” Lio reminded. “Is the least of our worries. You all seem to be completely ignoring the obvious outcome of this death.”
There was a long pause. No one wants to say it. It feels like suddenly everything in the future will be set in stone once the word is spoken. My father has never been afraid of the future.
“War.” He growls.
Almost the whole table jumps up and begins speaking at once. Including Max and I. The whole idea of war just…just can’t happen. It can’t be possible. The tribes haven’t warred in centuries, we left all that behind. But, I am not blind enough not to see the possibility that things will only get worse from here.
“We cannot let the Mahina tribe treat us like nothing!” Carrey, an advisor, shouted.
“They should be put in their place, taught respect for other tribes!” Damien, Max’s father, announced confidently with his shoulders squared.
“War is completely out of the question!” Almost everyone else seemed to be shouting a similar phrase and it was rattling around in my head likewise. The modern day Hawaiian tribes are small, all of them are; just a few hundred. War could possibly mean extinction. Especially with two stubborn parties continuing in their constant pursuit of revenge which can never be quenched.
“What if…” Melanie, my mother, reached for an explanation for the mystery girl’s strange behavior. “She is an outsider? What if she isn’t extremely partial to one tribe or the other and she doesn’t have the blood-thirsty gene of the Mahina tribe. That could explain her light hair.”
I frown. “You can’t say that all Mahina people are blood-thirsty.”
Everyone is silent as they stare at me. I clear my throat uncomfortably but I don’t back down, I meet their eyes.
“Melanie, we all know that there is possibility of straying from the tribes and meeting an outsider. It has happened and that’s why it was outlawed in the first place.” My father says to her.
“But, it’s so rare…” She breathes, but is nodding in acknowledgement to the fact that the girl is just another Mahina minion.
“They will attempt to get revenge. They don’t need a specific person to target. They know that we have killed one of theirs, even without proof.” Damien says, looking around at us.
“What do we do? Is there anything to do?” Carrey rubs his temple in thought. “Maximus did kill Dustin, but it was in self defense.”
“One thing that we won’t do is let an innocent member of our tribe fall victim to their lack of reason or thought to life. If they want to challenge us, then so be it.” Lio, our mighty chief, straightens his back and steels his dark eyes in determination.
I have to attend another semi-exclusive meeting of our tribe tonight. These happen only occasionally but everyone invited knows what the topic of tonight’s adjournment will be. I’m lucky enough that my friends and their parents are high enough in the ranks with me to also attend the meeting held in the Hall.
The Hall is at the top of the lush green hill, around the corner of condensed trees next to the chief’s mansion. This is where meetings like this take place, but in a smaller, homier room with a large fireplace and a hard-wood rectangle table that almost completely fills the room. The chief sat at the head of the table and all those that followed down the line filled in the other seats; advisors, high-ranked families, warriors, and the gifted such as Alana and Lydia…and me. I clustered with my friends at the end of the table. I was left with the seat at the opposite end of the table, across from the chief. I begged Mila to trade me places but she wouldn’t. I gulped uncomfortably under my chief’s stare. Mano is a picturesque chief with classic, some-what aged Hawaiian features and the heavy burden of leadership in his steely eyes. I imagined that all the other tribes have a meeting room like ours and a chief with determined confidence. That is our tribal tradition.
In the beginning of the meeting men and a few prominent women argue over the tradition tribal burial for Dustin and my friends and I zone out, but you wouldn’t know from our faces. Sitting in my seat, I get a nice view of the whole argument going on across the chestnut brown table that has a nice, warm golden tint when the light of the chandelier above hits it. Once the nerve of the juicy topic is struck though, everyone and their dog are all ears.
Landon, Dustin’s father who is high-ranked, slams his fists into the table in a sudden outburst. His eyes hold several emotions and even from over here, I can feel his raw pain.
“We wouldn’t be having this blasted argument if those dirty scums had kept their hands off my son!” He says loud enough for everyone to hear even though it was a personal thought. His wife closes her eyes and rubs his backs consolingly but he pushes her hand away. I can tell that instead of mourning, Landon is raging for his son. The flashes of white hot revenge shine in his eyes and I look away with a knot in my throat. A moment of silence passes and I meet Lydia’s eyes. She gives me a reassuring nod. This is something that Lydia and I share; our ways that we can understand our tribe members. Lydia has told me that being healers our one sole instinct and purpose is to help our family and friends in ways that others can’t. This doesn’t limit us to making their scratches disappear; we are more tuned in to our tribe member’s emotions and conflicts. This makes situations like this all the more real and painful.
“What you speak is true.” Mano says solidly. “Without the actions of the Noa tribe, Dustin would be alive today. Now, what does that tell you?”
“They have done us wrong. Severely wrong.” Luka, an advisor, says in a growl as he stares down with a frown at the table.
“And…what have we heard from them? Nothing?” My father points out with squinted eyes.
“They are cowards, hiding in fear of us and our power against them. As they should.” Mano says. He glances around at his tribe. I can feel him daring someone to speak up for the Noa tribe. I strange itch to be that one person who dares to speak up for the Noa comes about inside me but the courage to do so melts under the chief’s glare. Lydia looks at me strange because she can probably sense my struggle so I stuff my emotions away.
“Dustin’s death will not go unsettled, I can assure you that. Lucy,” Mano thunders my name from across the room and I snap my head up to look at him, surprised. “Are you sure that you can give no clues as to who you saw? How did you know they were from the Noa tribe?”
I knew this question would come about and I prepared myself for it.
“I wasn’t watching at first, I was just listening to the conversation. Dustin knew they were from the Noa tribe and he mentioned it while they were arguing…” I trail off and look down. I’m ashamed that I’m lying. I’m confused about my I’m lying; so confused and scared that I avoid trying to figure out why I am in my mind. “When I saw Dustin get stabbed, their backs were to me so I didn’t see their faces.”
I let out a silent breath when Mano nods thoughtfully.
“What about their height and hair color?” Dustin’s mother looks at me with a strained expression.
“Uh…” Make something up, I think quickly. Why am I lying? I wonder again frightfully. “They both had black hair and they were tall.”
That could explain everyone from every tribe. I could see Landon deflate and sharp regret and pain hits my chest.
The conversation steers other directions but I still feel on edge and unsettled. Mila leans over and whispers in my ear. She invites me to her house for the night and I nod that I’m coming, but feel strange about it. I spend at least one night a week at my best friend’s house, if not more, but now I don’t feel right around Mano. I’m scared he knows I’m lying and I don’t know what to do about it. But, I don’t have a good reason to turn Mila down, so I just go with it.
Of course, Alana is coming too since she is part of our girl group. I notice that Alana’s hair is a little less than perfectly slick and full today and her eyes lack her youthful sparkle. I can do more than guess that similar to Lydia and I, her guilt over not being able to help Dustin has kept her up at night.
When the meeting is over, I say goodnight to my parents and leave the Hall with my friends. Mila’s house, a.k.a. the chief’s house, is a short walk from the Hall and comes into view once we step out of the dark green trees surrounding the Hall.
It’s a mansion. It towers over me in the darkening sky and has a presence of its own. Though I come here often, I still admire the way that the dark brown wood that looks freshly waxed and polished gleams in the moonlight. Apparently the meeting had taken longer than I realized because it was already close to dark outside. Sebastian leads the way into his home gallantly. The chief and his wife had stayed behind at the Hall to continue further, more secretive conversation with adults. I am glad to be out of Mano’s sights.
The inside of Mila and Sebastian’s house has high ceilings and wide space between the large and lushly decorated living room and the shiny kitchen. The depressing meeting left us all a little emotionally and physically drained, but not tired. Sebastian departs from us silently and disappears into the back of the huge house. The lighting is dim and warm. I decide to start a small fire in the fireplace because I’m so found of the warmth and feeling it brings. Alana and Mila collect junk food for us to eat regrettably like we always do during sleepovers.
“Dang, that meeting was bor-ing.” Mila rolls her eyes. “I’m so glad it’s over.”
Alana and I agree heartily. There is a moment that we all three sit on the couch silently, staring hypnotized into the fire place. I pull my knees close to my body and rest my chin on my knees. A gentle roll of thunder sounds outside but it lacks a threatening tone. Suddenly, Alana starts to sniff. Mila and I both look at her and watch as a few tears trail down her cheeks and her eyes become rimmed with redness.
“What’s wrong?” Mila whispers with a frown. I reach over and put a comforting hand on her back. Secretly, I try to sense what is wrong. I feel her sadness, but that is all.
“I should have known.” She says quietly. She looks from Mila to me with seriousness that usually isn’t there with her.
“I’m the prophetess.” She pronounces with a sniffle. “I’m supposed to be able to prevent things like this! I should have seen that this would happen to him, but I didn’t. Why?”
Before she can continue, Mila grabs her by both of her shoulders and looks her in the eyes intensly, but also lovingly.
“Listen, Alana. It’s over. It’s okay.” Alana starts to shake her head but Mila pulls her into a hug. “You have to let go before you get too consumed with this idea that you could have stopped it. Some things are meant to happen.”
Alana attempts to compose herself next and she nods in agreement to Mila’s words.
I see Mila’s eyes dance with fire reflecting in them.
“But,” She says. “That doesn’t mean that Dustin will go un-avenged.”
Alana’s eyes harden as well. “Not as long as I’m here, that’s for sure.”
They both look to me. I can see they expect me to say or feel something similar but all I feel is nervous. I look out their large window in the living room and see storm clouds passing over the moon.
“A storm is coming.” I say silently. I don’t just mean rain; I mean a different kind of storm. A much more dangerous storm. After a dash of lightning lights the sky, a sprinkle of rain quickly, almost instantly, turns into a drenching shower. The rain is nice and comforting in the present situation and it makes me smile. Rain in Hawaii always brings out the best smells; freshly watered grass and nice warm breezes.
The back door of the mansion crashes shut and a sloshing wet noise comes up the hall. Sebastian stiffly walks into the living room, completely soaked. We all laugh warmly at his expense.
“What were you doing outside?” Mila questions in between cackles. He frowns, obviously going along with the laughter.
“I was going to get more firewood.” He grumbles. Then, he sloshes back into where ever he goes, probably his room. We are still laughing after he is gone because Sebastian is usually so perfect, but this time he got caught in a storm and he wasn’t very happy about it. This lightens the mood completely once we all realize that we weren’t having fun at all before. I push everything unhappy out of my mind and enjoy my night with my best friends.
The storm continues on through the night and even picks up speed and becomes similar to a raging bull of a storm. The wind constantly howls and whips against the windows. It takes me longer to fall asleep because of this, but I do eventually on their huge couch. The blanket I have is soft and warm and I dream of nice things in the beginning. Then my dreams turn dark.
Dustin glares at me. He stands across from me, completely covered in darkness, but I can see his angry eyes. I know why he is mad; I was right there, I could have helped him.
“It’s up to you.” He says to me darkly. “You saw who killed me and only you.”
Dustin begins to circle me like a panther, with blackness around him and glowing eyes.
“You owe it to me.” He continues. “You have to get revenge for me death, Lucy.”
He stops behind me and I am too afraid to move. His invisible breathe passes against my neck and a shiver overcomes me.
“Kill him!” He screams.
I jump awake to the sound of house-shaking thunder and snapping lightning strikes. I throw the blanket off me and calm down my breathing.
I couldn’t hold it. A tear slides down my face and I wipe it away slowly. I attempt to be quiet when I step around Alana who is sleeping in a sleeping bag on the floor. I rub my eyes and dazedly walk into the kitchen for a glass of water.
I jump out of my skin when I see a tall figure already in the kitchen. For a second I’m scared it’s the chief but then the figure turns around and its Sebastian. I let out a breath.
“You surprised me.” I mumble, blushing.
Sebastian looks me up and down. I’m wearing a borrowed pair of pajamas loaned from Mila; a tiny tank top and cotton shorts. I blush a little more and don’t meet his dark eyes.
“I was just going to get some water.” I tell him and then reach up to get myself a glass. “What are you doing down here in the middle of the night?”
“I had a nightmare.” Sebastian says honestly as he watches me fill my glass with water from the sink and drink it thirstily.
I nod. “Me too.”
Sebastian steps closer to me and smiles down into my eyes. Sebastian’s auburn hair is also a unique trait in our Hawaiian lineage and tribe and I had always liked being around him for this reason. Here I am with my golden blonde hair, not fitting it, and here he is with his reddish hair not fitting in either. Luckily, we are not treated badly because people assume that our unique hair color is god-given and divine. But, we both know that probably in the past, one of our family members snuck out and tried their time with an outsider, a non-Hawaiian, or a non-tribe member. But, who knows?
“You are beautiful Lucy, have I ever told you that? You are different than any other girls in this tribe.” Sebastian says suddenly. My pulse picks up a little and I can feel his close body heat washing over me. I realize how so many girls in the Mahina tribe would be taking way advantage of this moment alone with the prince, but I feel my stomach drop. I step back from Sebastian, but I run into the kitchen counter. A flash of lightning takes a brighter snapshot of this moment and I see Sebastian’s decidedly beautiful face. But, like I always have, I notice that where there should be warmth or light in Sebastian’s dark eyes…there is not.
I smile politely at him but start to slide away from him. “Thank you Sebastian, that’s nice of you to say that.”
Strangely, he just smirks and watches me as I walk back to the living room. A minute later, he leaves again. What he even been doing in the kitchen anyways? Nothing? I pull the fluffy blanket back over me and then I see that Alana and Mila are both looking at me slyly with cocked eyebrows. When had they woken up?
“What?” I ask.
Alana giggled and shared a look with Mila. I frown.
“So, you and my brother, huh?” Mila says suggestively, wiggling her eyebrows.
“What?” I laugh this time at their expressions.
“We saw the way he was looking at you.” Alana says with a grin.
I gulp but put on a smile. I don’t want to be blatantly honest and say that the thought of being with Sebastian, oddly detests me because it is Mila’s brother that she adores and looks up to.
“It’s perfect you know.” Alana says. Mila grins and agrees.
“Everyone knows that they try to get the healer and the chief together.” Mila says confidently. My stomach drops and I furrow my brow. I had not known this at all which upsets me.
“Couldn’t you imagine, me and you; sisters!” Mila gushes to me. I smile and laugh with her because it would be great to be her sister-in-law but not if I had to spend my life chained to the brick wall called Sebastian.
“Close your eyes and concentrate, Lucy.”
I do as Lydia says. Adam’s chest is warm underneath my palm.
“The energy of an internal illness is hard to detect. But, you will know when you find it.” Lydia’s voice echoes in my ears, but I am somewhat zoned out.
I tune into Adam’s pulse and concentrate on what is going on inside him. Everything is warm and calm inside Adam, like a gentle pool of water warmed by the sun and unaffected by tide. I feel like I’m swimming curiously through the pool, looking around with my eyes and feeling the water with my skin. Then, I swim through a cold spot and it shocks me out of my daze. It’s an eerie feeling and I quickly connect back with my own pool of energy. I fill the cold spot with my own electric warmth and then the coldness disappears. My eyes flicker open and I see Adam grinning at me. I look to Lydia and she is smiling as well.
“How do you feel Adam?” She asks him.
To my surprise, he places his hand over mine where it rests next to his heart and he looks in my eyes.
“Perfect. Thank you, Lucy.”
I blush and nod, very proud of myself for healing my first internal injury. I realize it was a simple common cold, but still, I did it.
“That was faster than I had ever been able to do it.” Lydia says approvingly and with a smidge of surprise in her expression.
“Wow,” I breathe in response.
Adam winks at me with another one of his charming grins and then he waves good bye to Lydia and I.
“I’m proud of you Lucy.” Lydia says seriously and I give her a hug unexpectantly. Lydia’s whole aura radiates love and it’s hard not to feel happy around her, no matter the situation. With a sharp pang, I remember what I had wanted to talk to Lydia about today and I’m still slightly afraid to bring it up.
“Can I talk to you about something?” I ask her a little nervously.
I walk over to her dark blue and exceptionally large fish tank and admire a vibrant orange fish swimming around nonchalantly. The small light above the tank illuminates the fish bowl, but outside it has already become dark. Tonight is Mila’s seventeenth birthday bonfire on the beach, but before I went down there, I wanted to talk to Lydia about something that was brought up at Mila’s house a week ago. Until now, I couldn’t manage the courage of asking Lydia about it, because I didn’t know what I was going to hear. Hopefully something encouraging.
“What is it dear?”
I sigh and face her. Lydia looks at me with a worried expression, her forehead wrinkled in curiosity.
“Mila and Alana mentioned that…healers are usually set up to marry the chief, but…I had never heard of that and…you aren’t married to Mano.” I bite my lip as I look at her expectantly. Lydia’s face drops. My stomach turns in nervousness.
“Well honey, heres the thing…” She steps closer to me with an apologetic look in her eyes. I gulp.
“All of those things are true in tribal tradition. Usually they wait until the healer is about your age until they break the news to them. I’m sorry I’m the one who has to tell you this.” Lydia looks down.
“Wait, wait,” I stutter. “But you aren’t married to the chief? You are married to a surfer.”
Lydia nods and smiles. “There are ways around it.”
My heart jumps and I grab her hand excitedly. “What is it?”
“I had known that healers were to be betrothed to the prince of the tribe when I was your age. But, when Mano and I were teenagers, he was rough and uptight, similar to today. I knew that I could never love him. I was quite the rouge child and when I realized that I had healing abilities, I kept it a secret.” She explains.
I gasp at the thought and she nods in agreement. We both understand that to see a person hurt and not heal them, takes effort.
“It was hard, but it was worth it. I married Kai, my husband, and then I pretended to realize that I was a healer. But, of course, by then it was too late for me to be with Mano. He found someone just as good; his wife today who is a former prophetess.” Lydia smiles and I can tell that it really was worth it for her. I am caught up in Lydia’s happy ending, until reality dawns on me.
It’s too late for me. Everyone already knows I’m a healer. Sebastian is the prince.
“I’m doomed.” I say with wide eyes, staring straight ahead in dazed fear. I look to Lydia for any help at all and I see sadness prick her eyes.
She pulls me into another hug and I fight back a sob. I don’t want to give into this completely unexpected fate. It doesn’t feel real. Me and Sebastian?
“There has got to be some way.” I whisper into her shoulder.
I feel her nod. “Lucy, if there is a will, there is a way. Trust me.”
“I trust you.”
“Then, go to your best friend’s party and be happy. You are in control of your own fate, no matter what everyone else in this tribe will tell you.”
The bonfire on the beach shows great turn out as expected; every Mahina teenager arrives with high spirits in the darkness and several cool older tribe members come too. One third of the guests are out on the waves, typically. Another third are dancing on the sandy shore to music. The last third, which includes all of my friends and I are sitting around the bonfire, near the tree-line of the jungle. A breeze whisks around tonight so I huddle close to the flames. Our group is shockingly quiet for once. This magic can only be brought on by Mateo. Mateo is the twenty-something, amazingly beautiful, story-teller with the hypnotic voice that commands everyone to listen. He is well known in the tribe for his knowledge of Hawaiian legends and folklore and for the way he can make any girl from any island swoon at his feet. I knew that Mila knew she had to have him at her party because it automatically insures people will be satisfactorily entertained. I myself am excited to see what Mateo has in store for tonight’s bonfire.
The nighttime breeze is surprisingly testy tonight and I’m glad that I brought a soft and cozy jacket to wrap myself in. I ignore all of my problems like Lydia advised and I have a carefree time at Mila’s party. I forget everything except the smooth and exciting sound of Mateo’s manly and captivating voice.
Mateo can really work the lighting of the fire. It makes his skin glow luminously and shows off the hard edges of his face.
“Have any of you ever heard of the Runes of Himeni Island?” Mateo raises an eyebrow and looks around the bonfire. No one responds yes and we all sit silently, waiting for him to continue. Mateo nods thoughtfully.
“Himeni Island is so small it isn’t even considered a real Hawaiian island. It’s nearby, just south of Lanai in fact. White sand surrounds the grassy jungle of the tiny island. I’ve been there.” He lifts up his lips into a half smile. “The Runes of Himeni are not a well known legend, but my father talked of them often in a serious tone. So, I in turn speak to you seriously of these Runes. We all know that the legends of Hawaii are more than they seem.
“There is an ancient tomb at the center of Himeni Island. It is a crumbling ruin, but it still holds strong through the centuries. Inside this cave, there is a coffin, but the identity of the body is unknown. My father said that the tomb had always been there, and the ancient coffin has never been opened. There are of course, rumors of the contents of the coffin. Many believe it is the skeleton of an exiled islander and warn no one to open the coffin because it would disrespect the sentence of the exiled criminal. The legend says that he committed a crime so grave that he shall never see the light of day again. But, others believed something different; my father especially. He said that they tell you that you shall not open the coffin only to protect what really lies in the secret tomb. My father said ‘Runes are buried in that tomb, runes with magnificent power to summon the Hawaiian gods at your command!’ and no one believed him. My father told many stories and they saw this as just another made up adventure in his mind. But, even though I am biased, I believed every word from my father’s mouth. You can choose which story to believe, but until you open the coffin and see a skeleton instead of ten gleaming stones, I will believe my father.”
The wind whisks my hair around my face and I clap with a big smile on my face. Others join in on the cheering and I think I glimpse a humble blush forming on Mateo’s usually cocky-expression. This is definitely my favorite of all the stories Mateo has told mostly because I’m not so sure it really is just another “story” maybe there is an adventure just waiting to happen with this “legend”.
If you imagined Hawaiian teenagers as reserved and civilized, you were wrong. Back at Mila’s mansion, the party continues in full speed. No matter how big her house, it’s still full with dancing and laughing people. I love to dance, but this music is loud and irritating instead of lovely and happy like Hawaiian songs. Plus, there was hardly room to breathe, must less dance in the party room. I had long since lost track of any of my closest friends, so I decided to push through the crowd to get to Mila’s large tree-covered back yard. Someone had the grill going and a group of more social than wild partiers where spread about. They all had fruit drinks in their hands and I craved one suddenly.
Just like that, one was handed to me. I looked up to see Sebastian giving it to me like he could read my mind. I thanked him honestly and followed him like a puppy when he motioned for me to.
Since the mansion rested on top of the grassy hill, you can look out on the edge of her back yard and see a vast expanse view of this side of the island. Sebastian and I stood silently next to each other and took it all in. Although the rolling waves, luscious rain forest, and grand mountains are beautiful, I was suddenly uncomfortable around Sebastian, for the obvious reason. He didn’t make any move to touch me or even look at me. He is silent. I gulp and try to subtly take a step away from him so I could breathe better.
This is who they planned me with all along? Sure, Sebastian is regal, loyal, and beautiful, but is that it? He is stubborn and self-righteous as well. What other good qualities does he have? I can only guess that he only finds me attractive in a way that would appeal to the lineage of the tribe that he will soon take over. He told me I am beautiful just a week ago, but in what way did he mean? Did he mean it at all?
I feel like a prisoner here, chained to his side. Why am I even here, obeying his every word on where I should go and what I should say? I take another step away from him, but can’t manage to leave without a word.
“It’s a beautiful night.” I say timidly, looking at him carefully. He nods thoughtfully. Sebastian always seems to be in thought.
“It is. Lucy, similar to my sister, you are seventeen and at a good age to be looking for a groom.”
My breath is knocked out of my quickly. Wow, he really gets right to the chase. I had been aware that in our traditional Hawaiian lifestyle, our age is appropriate for looking for a husband, but I hadn’t expected him to bring it up so fast. I’m not ready. I’m not ready for this.
“I’m sorry; I’m not feeling well at all.” I grab my stomach dramatically and avoid Sebastian’s worried gaze. I shake my head. “I’m sorry, Sebastian, but I have to go. I’ll see you around.”
Then I dash away before he can say anything more terrifying. I barely make it inside, when I crash into a huge chest. I jump away and apologize, but freeze when I see I’ve ran into Mano. He looks at me with no amusement in his eyes when I giggle at running into him. I swallow my tongue, but then quickly recover to step aside regretfully.
“Sorry, chief.” I say quietly. Mano looks at me for a second. I feel so uncomfortable. Like father, like son I guess. I had never felt weird around them until now. Now I have things to hide and new emotions and information to work with.
“Where are you off to so fast?” Mano asks in his gruff voice.
I laugh nervously. “Oh nowhere, I mean, uh, to the bathroom. I have to go, sorry.”
Then, I walk off stiffly again. Once I am back inside, I let out a breath I had been holding in. For the rest of the party, I talked to familiar faces, ate lots of food, and laughed along with others who were observing some severely horrifying dance moves. The night definitely could have been worse and I’m sure that Mila was beyond thrilled with the results of her seventeenth birthday party. Mila told me that she wanted me to stay the night tonight, after everyone had left, so I called my mom and told her that I will see her tomorrow.
At the first crash and bang of lightning and thunder, the mansion began to empty. Everyone milled out the door and chatted on their way down the street towards their homes. I was surprised to see that even Alana went home. I waved goodbye to her and caught Mila’s eyes. I shot her a confused look for leaving Alana out and my best friend winked at me.
Uh, oh. I smell trouble.
Once everyone was gone, Mila rushed at me, grabbing me on the arm, and pulled me to her lavish bedroom. Mila’s bedroom is my favorite room of the whole house because everything is covered in authentic animal print. The room is spacious and not cluttered. Mila’s huge queen sized bed is close to her arching windows. She pulls me on the bed with her and squeals excitedly.
I laugh. “What is it? What did I miss?”
It is storming outside again and the shadows of tropical branches thrash against the large window. Every other couple of seconds the leaves would flash from black to green from the illuminating lightning. A constant white noise of rain is a background tune to our conversation.
“Alec!” She grinned. “We danced and we danced the whole night. He couldn’t keep his hands off of me. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of him! Have you seen his eyes? Completely dreamy.”
I knew that Mila had been chasing after Alec for a while, but it still surprises me that she is swooning at the thought of him. Alec is a warrior similar to other tall and strong boys his age, but he is quiet and stiff. Then again, they say that opposites do attract. Mila is loud, spontaneous, and a hopeless romantic. I can’t imagine Alec even showing enough emotion to be in a relationship. Obviously, I’m not giving him enough credit.
“What did you guys say to each other? Do you think he likes you back?” I question curiously, catching on to her growing excitement.
“He promised to take me out shell hunting sometime soon. Isn’t that brilliantly romantic! He remembered that I love to shell hunt.” Mila sighs happily and falls backwards into her fluffy cushions. “This has been the best birthday.”
“But!” She jumps up again and has a wicked grin on her face. “It’s not over yet.”
“What do you mean?” I ask a little nervously. I know this look. This is her mischievous expression and I don’t usually enjoy what comes next.
“I have an idea on how to make this birthday even better.”
“Like…a movie marathon!”
“Nope, something better; an adventure. Tonight. Out of the gates.” A violent spark of lightning and thunder dramatically erupt behind her pretty little head.
Wishful thinking, as I had assumed.
“No!” I jump up, in shock. “What are you thinking? We can’t go outside the gates past curfew, they’ll have our necks! No one would ever agree to that.”
“Who said anything about asking? Lets just go.” She laughs manically at my terrified expression.
I don’t do things like this. I don’t break the tribal rules, ever. Has Mila lost her mind?
“This is a terrible idea. The worst one you have ever had.” I grumble, crossing my arms. I am not going to agree to this madness.
“Lucy, are you kidding me? Look, it’s my birthday. We live in paradise. I am a princess. I should be allowed to live a little more on the edge! Do you want to spend your whole life sitting home obediently while you could be out having the time of your life instead?”
No, I think silently, I don’t.
“Do you always want to be told what to do? Or do you want to make decisions for yourself?”
Yes, I do.
“Do you want to begin the adventure that has been presented to you, right on a silver platter? Or do you want to ignore it!”
“What adventure?” I ask. “What are we going to do outside the gates? It’s midnight.”
Mila frowns at me. “Who cares? As long as I’m not here; in captivity.”
Now I can see true determination in her eyes and I recognize that there is no going back from here. Out of everything, there is one thing I am sure about. I am not staying alone here in this mansion without my best friend while she goes out and experiences things that I could only dream of daring to.
“Fine.” I relent nervously.
“Yes!” Mila shout-whispers. A wicked gleam lights up her eyes. “Let’s go.”
“This is a bad idea.” I say for the millionth time, even through a smile. The boardwalk was somehow still alive when we got there, including a frozen yogurt place still open. Walking down the dimly lit boardwalk with my best friend, the beach, and ice-cream really is great. I would never admit that the fact that we were doing this rebelliously made everything a little sweeter. But, it didn’t help my nerves. I’m so worried we are going to get caught. Mila is oblivious to the danger though and she skips down the boardwalk joyfully. Then she stops abruptly and I accidently smash into her. My ice-cream had almost nose-dived into the ground but I saved it just in time.
“What did you stop for? I thought we were going to go back now?” I wine.
“Look at this!” Mila points to the tiny shop we had stopped next to. It is still open, but empty of people as we can see from the window. “It’s a cute novelty store.”
As we walk in, I see that it’s more than just another gift shop or souvenir store, it has real treasures and antiques. Mila and I are mesmerized. The shop is small with knick-knacks lined around the wooden shop and on the walls. I can’t see an employee anywhere and there are no other customers.
Walking around, I admire colorful sea-shells and starfish and I assume by the price that they are valuable. There is a whole table filled with empty bottles containing rolled up slips of paper.
“I wonder what they say.” I think out loud. Mila nods, agreeing.
Among other things in the shop are hand-crafted necklaces, glowing sea-glass, small exotic fish in tiny, bubbling tanks, small wooden tiki trinkets that are probably shaped after their larger originals, and maps.
The maps are at the furthest back end of the shop and are all rolled up neatly on the wooden counter. Mila takes an interest in the first one she picks up. I reach into the stacked pile and pull out a random one. Smoothing it out on the counter, she gasps, and then laughs.
“Lucy, these are treasures maps!” She exclaims to me. Her eyes grow wide. “This…is so awesome. Do you think their real?”
I laugh as well. “Uh…probably not. This is probably just for fun; a made-up souvenir.”
The map that I had found looks like it is a lot older than the others. It shows the Hawaiian Islands, but I find it hard to read the tiny words. I hold it up against the light of the shop.
There is a dotted line coming from Lanai, our island, leading out to a tiny island that is just a spec compared to others. But, that’s it. There is no ‘X’ marking the supposed treasure and I wonder the point of the map.
“What is this map even for?” I ask out loud curiously.
“Flip it over.” A masculine voice replies. Mila and I jump in surprise. I suppress my surprise and look up over the map at the man standing behind the counter. He smiles at me sweetly.
He looks several years older than Mila and I, probably in his late twenties, but seems charming and friendly. I admire his bulging Hawaiian muscles and catch Mila doing the same.
I turn the map over like he said and on the back is a drawing of an island, with lines drawn in detail through it. I see an ‘X’ towards the center of the island, but there is no labeling at all.
“What treasure does this lead to?” I ask the man behind the counter who must work here. I’m only slightly joking because it could just be a cute souvenir. But, secretly, I’m hoping its more. The man smiles at me.
“It leads to Himeni Island.” He responds confidently. There is no joke behind his words, he believes this, and I can feel it. I nearly drop the map in shock.
Mila rushes over and grabs the map from my hand excitedly.
“No way! Please tell me that it leads to the runes on Himeni Island.” Mila’s eyes gobble up the picture on the map hungrily and then she looks up at the man.
He raises his eye brows in surprise. “You know of them?”
We both nod our heads and he smiles. “Yes, the map does lead to the runes.”
Mila squeals. “This is beyond amazing, how much do you want for it?”
He shakes his head. “It’s yours.”
Mila blabbers on and on about how this is fate while we walk back to the gates of the tribal community on the beach. The boardwalk we ventured to was only about two blocks away, but it was worth the risk. When we reach the tall, arching wooden gates that connect the sandy shore to the paved rows of houses, I smack Mila.
“Be quiet and put that map away.” I whisper. She does as I say, but rolls her eyes. As quietly as possible, we slip through the wooden gates, but they creak slightly. It makes me cringe. I tiptoe after Mila and shut the gates behind me. They creak again. As I close the latch, I don’t hear Mila’s footsteps anymore and wonder why she stopped because we have to get back to her house quickly.
I turn around and freeze. Mila is frozen in front of me as well, but in front of her stands Lydia. She stares both of us down.
Oh crap, we are caught.
A few tense moments pass as Lydia looks us over. My heart throbs inside of me. What will she say? What will she do?
“We’re sorry, Lydia—”
“Stop right there, Lucy.” I gulp. “That’s all I want to hear.”
Then, just like that Lydia smiles and walks away without another word.
“Wait!” Mila shouts after her and I give her a crazy look.
“Don’t worry,” Lydia says without turning around and her voice grows increasingly tinier as she walks down the beach towards her house. “I won’t tell.”
Another day in paradise. I will never get tired of the familiar Hawaiian breeze, sun-rays, and sparkling waves. Today, I am determined to only focus on the beauty of everything and not on my dangerous track record and impending (and nightmare-invoking) doom in the love life department. I live in Hawaii; this should be enough to make everything else seem not as bad. Unfortunately, my heart doesn’t agree with this logic.
The beach closest to our tribe’s private one is the Mau Loa beach; the most popular one on this side of Lanai. The waves are much bigger on this beach rather than the private one inside our gates, so Mila and I ventured here in hopes of finding a certain surfer.
“I knew we’d find him here.” I chirp as I spot Adam’s curly black hair walking up the shore.
For a moment I fade into a slow motion dream-like state. Adam walks up the shore with his friends, his surf board tucked under his large arms. He runs his hand over his slick hair, pushing it out of his face and flexing his biceps at the same time. His eyes meet mine and the florescent grin makes my heart sputter.
Mila smacks me for staring wordlessly and a hot blush seeps into my cheeks.
“Hello Ladies,” Adam greets us, waving goodbye to his guy friends. The mid-day sun shines in a halo behind him. I dig my toes nervously into the sand. Nervous? When am I nervous around Adam?
“Adam,” Mila purrs with a sultry smile. I roll my eyes internally at her non-stop flirting. “We thought we would see you here.”
“What can I do for you?” He sticks his surf board into the sand next to him.
Mila looks around suspiciously at people passing by and steps closer to Adam to be more secretive. I join her. Adam’s skin is the perfect tanned Hawaiian color and flawless like all Mahina tribe members. He smells strongly of salty sea spray.
“We are in need of your boating services. Do you think you can hook us up?” Mila says with an encouraging smile.
Adam nods, raising an eyebrow. “Feel like a mid-day boat trip? Sounds like a party.”
Adam is known for his large speed-boat that is hooked up with everything you could ever need out at sea. But, a high-class, open-invite, fun trip is not what Mila and I have in mind.
“That sounds very appealing, but we are thinking more on the lines of sailing out to a certain island.” Mila approaches this topic slowly. She knows that he is our only option at getting out to Himeni Island.
“Like to one of the bigger islands?” Adam asks.
Mila shakes her head and looks at me.
“Did you hear that story Mateo told at the bonfire the other night? About Himeni Island and the runes?” I ask Adam tentatively, hoping that he doesn’t find this whole thing similar to a silly goose chase. I banked on the idea I had that Adam is a spontaneous guy in search of adventure.
“Yeah, I did hear about that.” He nods.
“Well, this map that we found leads us right to the treasure!” Mila says excitedly. She pulls out the map from her purse and shows it to Adam as proof. His eyes sparkle with interest as he looks it over.
“Wicked. Where did you find this?” He looks at us both with raised eyebrows.
“Not important.” Mila says with a mysterious smile. “What is important is that only you can know about this. I don’t want others crashing our party.”
“What about Alana?” I ask her.
“She is too worried about breaking tribal rules.” Mila rolls her eyes. “Plus, we don’t want her getting on our radar and foreseeing all the action. That’s not fun. It’s like watching a movie, already knowing the ending.”
“What about visiting an island on a treasure hunt is breaking tribal rules?” Adam asks. I was thinking the exact same thing and a knot starts to grow in my stomach. Will I be pulled into another reckless rule-breaking event unwillingly?
“Oh yeah, we will have to be doing this after curfew.” Mila adds last minute like it’s nothing.
“What?” I groan. “Mila!”
Adam laughs at me and it’s a beautiful sound.
“I’m up for that. But, I have to warn you. Boating at night is a little more risky and if we get caught we are done for.” Adam looks at me because he knows I’ll be nervous about this. I’m frowning uncomfortably.
“Mila,” I say to her. “I don’t know about this. Why can’t we just go during the day? It will be easier to see everything!”
Mila throws me a bored look and shakes her head and Adam, silently complaining about me.
“Lucy do you want to accept your god-given ability to be an adventuress or do you want to be boring? Seriously, answer the question. We won’t have to worry about anyone else if we go at night.”
I sigh. “Okay, okay, whatever! But, if we get caught I’m saying that you guys kidnapped me at knife-point.”
Mila grins with Adam. “Agreed.”
“So it’s a date, tomorrow night, the north dock, ten o’clock?” Adam asks.
Mila winks. “See you there.”
The nerves are almost too much for me, but the opportunity is right in front of me to talk to my mother about Sebastian. I know what I will here somehow, but that doesn’t change my hope that things will be different than I’m expecting.
“Hi Mom,” I say hopefully in a friendly voice. She is pouring some water into a tall leafy plant. My mom Lesley Anolani owns a catering flower shop on the boardwalk and works there tirelessly every day. I knew I would find her here, but couldn’t help my curiosity of what she will say about what I heard about; the Healer and the Heir being betrothed.
She looks up at me and smiles, her eyes crinkling at the edges. I share her bright blue eyes. Hers are all-knowing though. She was the former prophetess of the Mahina tribe but just like Lydia, her abilities faded with age except at a much younger time, surprisingly. Thankfully, she has Alana to replace her like Lydia has me as replacement.
My heart begins to pound and my skin grows hot.
“I’ve been meaning to ask you something. It’s very important.” I tell her.
She stands up straight and looks me over questioningly.
“It’s about…Sebastian. Um…”
“What about Sebastian?”
Whatever, just spit it out. “It’s about Sebastian and me. I heard rumors…”
God, I’m such a wimp. I can’t say it. I don’t want to. I don’t want to accept it’s real after all this time I thought that I would find my own man. I should have guessed since everyone knows that the Heir is expected to find a talented and richly divine bloodline to marry to. Who else besides me or Alana?
“I knew you would come to me with this topic. Follow me.” My mom turns and I follow her. Although she can not prophesize or see the future of the tribe anymore, she still has her intuitions about her. Once again, I should have known.
The flower shop is medium-sized and brightly colored with tropical Hawaiian flowers, but everything feels like it’s closing in on me. As I follow my mom to the back of the store, I feel like I’m walking to my doom through a dense jungle of flowers that reach out and brush against my skin unnervingly. We reach the hot pink counter and my mom stands behind it. I sit up on a stool placed on the opposite side.
She doesn’t look at me, she just goes about her business with putting cash in the cash register and rearranging papers, as if this conversation is not long-awaited for anyone. It must be long awaited for her…when did she plan on telling me?
“So, Lucy, about Sebastian and you; it’s Hawaiian tradition to wait about your age until you are told about your betrothal because usually the parents spend this time looking for an Heir to pair you with, but it was an obvious choice.” She looks up and smiles brightly at me. I feel all the blood drain from my head and dizziness.
“I don’t love Sebastian, I’m sorry mother but we are too different. I’ll find my own husband, but thank you.” I stood up on wobbly legs. This tactic had come out of no where but I would accept nothing less. I scrambled to walk away, but my mother laughs at my back. I freeze. I hear the smile in her voice.
“Lucy, dear, you don’t understand. You are made for Sebastian. It’s in your blood and ancestry. You are made for the Heir. But, isn’t this exciting? I’ve been waiting a while to tell you this. I’m so excited about thinking about wedding plans…”
Her voice fades away into surprised silence as I sprint from the cheerful wedding shop.
I run right from the busy boardwalk, to the even more busy mid-day shore. I toss sand up as I struggle around people and try to compose myself. I couldn’t let her finish her sentence. The word wedding had begun to melt my insides and not in a good way. How could she just toss all of this on me at once and expect me to be okay with it? Has she met Sebastian? Does she even know what kind of person she expects me to love? I couldn’t imagine anyone more wrong that me.
Maybe I’m being dramatic and unfair. Maybe I’m being a spoiled, ungrateful brat. I settle into the sand away from other people and I sniffle to keep away the unwanted water in my eyes. Why Sebastian? Why not someone like Adam? His family is royal enough. He is perfect. Why not him? Maybe I can convince my mom…
Who am I kidding?
This is my culture. This is my tribe. This is the future of my tribe. Like my mom said, I am made for Sebastian. If others in the past had to go through a betrothal, I should have to too, in respect for them.
I still can’t accept it yet. How will I ever accept it?
I relax my mind and breathe in the sweet smell of boardwalk pastries and fresh tropical flowers. I listen to the constant crashing waves and happy chatter of the beach goers. My heart stops fluttering so fast.
It still aches…
Several woeful minutes later, my mom finds me on the beach and smiles happily like nothing is happening. She hands me an iced coffee and I accept it begrudgingly.
“Beautiful day isn’t it?” She says.
I don’t respond or look at her.
She sighs and sits down on the sand with me.
“Lucy, don’t be upset. Any girl would be lucky to be with Sebastian and we are going to have a fabulous time with your wedding! It will be a grand event; like none other before!” She tries to make me smile or acknowledge her but I don’t. I’m mad at myself for acting like a spoiled, pouting brat, but how could I be happy with her when she is telling me this?
I look up at my mom’s concerned eyes and I remember that she is just the messenger. It’s not up to her either who I marry as long as he’s an Heir. I feel a little regretful for freaking out on her.
Suddenly, she throws her hand in the air, nearly spilling her own cup of coffee.
“I have no idea why you are unhappy. You are going to be the queen of the tribe one day!”
A shocked look comes upon my face.
That’s true. I had only been worrying about the fact I will live a life without love (strangely I had also never considered that I could actually fall in love with him at some point) and not about how I will have to be a powerful, ruling force.
I frown. “I don’t want to be queen.”
I think of Mano’s wife, the current queen. She never smiles, never jokes, never laughs. All she does is scold and make important decisions. She must have to worry about lots of things all the time. I don’t want to be that. I don’t want that responsibility.
My mom stares at me incredulously.
Then she shakes her head and offers me a hand to help me up off the sand.
“Come on Lucy, I have to get home to do some planning for the Surf Competition coming up soon. Have you forgotten about that? It really is a lovely day, maybe you should go for a hike with Pookie because he hasn’t gotten out lately…”
I drone out my mother’s random thoughts from there and attempt to avoid a growing pit of misery that I’m close to tripping into.
I won’t marry Sebastian.
I cried like a regular, typical, hormonal teenage girl to Mila on the phone. While I was telling her about how scared I am, she was squealing with joy at the news about what my mother had said.
“I knew it! Alana had mentioned something a while ago, but now it’s real!” She starts.
“What?” I mumble. “Alana knew?”
Mila ignored my question and I felt a stab of betrayal from Alana. How could she not tell me?
“I’m so beyond excited, this is so perfect. You and Sebastian should start hanging out more often, you know, getting to know each other better.” I could feel the suggestion behind that joking statement. It makes me want to puke.
“Mila, are you not hearing me? I. Don’t. Want. To. Marry. Him.” I am so frustrated that no one is making me feel better, I didn’t censor my words.
Mila scoffed. “Oh, Lucy, you will warm up to him, don’t worry! Now we can both be tribal princesses, who wouldn’t want that?”
I wonder if Mila has ever even considered that maybe it would be better to not be royal? I couldn’t think of many pluses to the title.
I don’t want to think anymore. I decide to take my mother’s advice and go on a nice long hike by myself. Except I will take Pookie because I’m sure that he will be more sensitive to my emotions rather than my supposed friends and loved ones. How did my dad feel about this? Or my brothers; Julian knows Sebastian more than anyone else being around his age.
I don’t want to talk to them either though. I would go to Lydia, but from the last time I talked to her I know that she has no plan on helping me. She knows I’m doomed just as well as I do. If only I had been as lucky as she was. She got away from her fate without a scratch to show.
Pookie licks my face joyfully and it lightens my mood a little, until I realize that the kind of unconditional love that is shown in this moment really must be only fit for fairytales.
Similar to my level of happiness, the sky darkens as I set out on a hike. It’s still early in the day, but thick condensed clouds collect overhead. The air fills with heavy humidity, leaving my skin hot and sticky.
Pookie dons her bright blue leash and hops into the passenger seat of the family Jeep. My mom and dad each have a car for themselves, but my brothers and I are left to share the Jeep. It’s not that much of a problem because most of the places that we go, you can walk. But, my favorite secluded hiking trail is outside the gates and further down the shore, away from the Mahina private beach. This fact can be added to my growing list of secrets. Everyone thinks that I hike up the trail of the jungle skirting the community, but I don’t. I prefer what is known as by the tribes as the Bordering Forest. It is called this because it separates the Mahina area from the Noa area. It’s not against tribal law to travel into this forest, but it never happens. What is against tribal law is entering Noa territory un-chaperoned and un-welcomed, but I would never go that far.
What I like about the Bordering Forest hiking trail is the wildlife. Since Pookie and I are the only ones who really venture into this area, wonderful Hawaiian birds chirp throughout the whole day and cute little creatures scuttle around secretly. Since the forest is so dense with large green forestry, I am hidden from the sometimes over-powering sunlight. This trail feels like my own secret haven, my own place for meditation.
After walking with my happy dog for a while, I finally realize that I had dressed completely wrong. I wasn’t really thinking about hiking, I was more concentrated on getting away from other people. From my day trip to the beach to talk to Adam, I’m wearing a thin, wispy pink sundress. My flip flops are beginning to rub my feet raw and hold no traction against the muddy ground. I scold myself for being so stupid.
I take off my flip flops and walk barefoot in the soft dirt. Thankfully, this hiking trail isn’t rocky or covered with itchy plants.
Although I do like the noises of the wildlife, I’m wary of going off the trail because of that reason. Who knows what could be out there?
The air grows even denser with humid heat and Pookie strains against his leash since I’m growing tired of walking with a purpose. I stroll calmly, trying to avoid thinking about unpleasant things. I unleash Pookie so that he can jog ahead at his own contentment.
That is when I’m finally left alone to think about things; walking by myself in the jungle of Hawaii, and I’m sad. The tears come slowly, just little trickles of my despair leaking out of my eyes and onto my cheeks. I’m almost surprised that my cool tears don’t immediately dissolve into steam with this current temperature. It’s leaving me exhausted quickly and more disheartened than before.
Hawaii never gets this hot. It’s a new thing for me and it happened so suddenly. But, not even this makes me want to turn back home. What will I have to face when I get home? A relationship forced upon me without my consent and against my will? No one who cares about how I feel about this? Will I get congratulations for being the fiancé of the Heir?
I’m not his fiancé yet. He hasn’t proposed. But, when he does, what will I say?
Why are there always so many questions in my head?
My legs felt suddenly like wet noodles and I didn’t want to walk anymore. I need some form of comfort, but looking around I see none.
“Pookie!” I call, hoping that he will come running back into my arms. I listen to the sounds of the jungle but hear nothing like the sound of my puppy. My stomach drops.
“Pookie?” I yell again. I walk over a small crest in the soft trail and see my dog on the other side. He is several feet away and I whistle and call for him to come closer. He stands there for two seconds; his ears cocked backwards and then he lets out a loud yelp. I jump out of my skin at his sudden distressed noise. Then he sprints away into the jungle, off the trail, and out of sight.
“Not again.” I groan.
Pookie continues to howl and bark in the distance and just like last time I have no choice but to follow. I almost don’t. First of all, I don’t feel right just gallivanting into the forest, I could get lost! Or attacked by a rapid animal! Second of all, last time Pookie did this I walked up on something that I really wish I hadn’t. A bad feeling settles inside of me and my heart begins to thud.
I look around and realize that now I really am all alone way out here in the Bordering Forest now. I can’t leave my dog; I can’t be separated from him.
When I hear Pookie’s bark echoing through the trees from far away, I’m so frightened that I do it. I leap off the trail and into the trees and I sprint towards the sound.
Not again, not again.
I pant from exertion and fear as I run and jump over obstacles while dodging trees. My breathing is ragged and laced with threatening tears. I’m crying because this is me; afraid of being alone, afraid of the future, and afraid of fate.
“Pookie!” I scream and in response he starts barking wildly. He sounds closer now.
In desperation, I stumble through a prickly bush, and fall with a thud on the other side.
“Ow,” I complain out loud.
Pookie’s barking has stopped. I look up from where I am on the ground and see I’m in a clearing. My heart nearly explodes with shock and fear.
I’m in the clearing and…I’m not alone.
“So what’s with you and Lucy?” I curiously pry at Adam.
He looks shocked at my bluntness and I laugh light-heartedly.
“It’s so beyond obvious that she likes you, but what do you think about her?” I try again.
Adam shakes his head at my brash behavior but, really, he should just get used to it and answer the question already.
By now I know that if he hasn’t said anything yet that means, bingo, he likes Lucy. Hello, who wouldn’t? My best friend may be kind of a scardey-cat, but she is kind-hearted and drop-dead gorgeous. Well, most Mahina tribe members are gorgeous, but not all are kind-hearted. Personally, I find her to be naïve and boring from time to time, but she will sneak out of the gates with me while Mrs. Up-tight Alana won’t.
We’re at the private Mahina beach again because Mano has called a last-minute unexpected meeting of the tribe. I had attempted to call Lucy over and over because everyone’s presence is required, but she didn’t answer. Her mom said she is on a hike, so she probably doesn’t have very good cell service. I have a strange hunch she is avoiding me.
“Lucy is a wonderful person.” Adam finally answers me with a smile. I’m unhappy with this answer, but I know this is all I’m going to get from him.
“Mhmm, so about that boat trip…you haven’t told anyone have you?” I squint at him, tracking him solely on my lie detector. He rolls his eyes.
“No. Why would I do that? Don’t worry about it Mila, you will get your adventure.” He grins.
“Yes, I will get my adventure, but you won’t get your girl so the fairytale isn’t exactly flawless, is it?”
“What do you mean?” He furrows his brow.
“Lucy is going to be betrothed to my brother Sebastian, the Heir, haven’t you heard? Well it hasn’t been officially announced yet I guess.” I watch Adam’s beautiful face falls into confusion and he looks away.
“Mateo!” I catch sight of his sauntering walk and call out to him. Before I can go, Adam grabs my arm.
“What are you doing? Are you going to tell him our plan?”
I roll my eyes and shrug my arm out of his grasp. “Calm down. I think he should know because he is the one we learned about the runes from. Maybe he will want to come?”
Adam attempts to use a fatherly look on me as he towers over me, but I’ve never been one to fall under the pressure of intimidation.
“I cannot get caught out with the boat after curfew. Not only will I never see the light of day again, but you won’t have a chaperone for your little adventures.”
“Feel like backing out?” I dare him.
“Not a chance.” He counters.
“Then see you tonight.”
I saunter away in the direction of Mateo and feel Adam’s eyes on me suspiciously. I search the thick crowd of beautiful surfers, but Mateo has disappeared just like that. I guess he will just have to miss out on tonight’s plans.
Luckily I spot Sebastian and Alec towards the front of the crowd.
“Hey guys!” I pop up next to them, but Alec then shushed me. I give Sebastian a questioning look and he nods ahead of us.
“Mano is about to make an announcement.” He whispers.
In front of the crowd is the large stage where the chief speaks and during festivals, performances are held. Upon the stage are Mano, his right hand men, and Alana. None of them look happy, but Alana looks more nervous and scared than the others.
“Tribe.” Mano addresses the attentive crowd. “I have called you here to alert you of what has happened this morning. While my son and I were discussing with our advisers on the beach, our tribe’s prophetess came to us with news.”
Mano then nods at Alana and she steps forward, facing the crowd bravely. “Tell them what you know.”
“A Noa spy was listening in on them. I saw a flash of the girl in my mind and saw her hiding in the shadows of the jungle. She was sent by the Noa tribe to collect information.” Alana announces with mustered confidence.
Ripples of gasps circle in the crowd at the idea of those disgusting Noa’s attempting to spy on us. Before anyone can really process the information, Mano, my father and chief lays the biggest news of the century on the tribe. The weight of his words makes me shiver.
“Because of the evil and dangerous ways of the tribe are being shown by the death of Dustin and this truth from our prophetess, I am making an official tribal decree immediately; From now on speaking or meeting with anyone from the Noa tribe will be punishable by exile. The Noa tribe is not our friends and to befriend them is to betray your own tribe. The only acceptable engagement with them is if you plan on avenging the death of our own.” Mano’s eyes glisten with rage and I feel it inside myself as well.
We gawk at each other. At first I’m sure that I’m dreaming. I must be dreaming about being alone in the jungle with none other than the man I remember as Wesley. The man who is friends with Dustin’s killer. His eyes are wide and crystal blue, like mine. His skin is slick with sweat and his mouth is hanging open.
“You.” He whispers.
“What are you doing here?” He asks me in a gruff voice. My hearts shutters, beating wildly. I look around for the best escape route. I realize that I must be in his territory; the Noa side of the Bordering Forest.
“I’m sorry,” I stutter. “Please don’t kill me.”
I scoot backwards away from him, but I am so scared I barely have the strength to lift my legs. I’m frozen.
His forehead crinkles. “Kill you? No…”
He starts to move and then cringes in pain, clenching his eyes shut. That’s when I take in his form. He is sitting on the ground, clasping his bicep with white knuckles. I see redness all over his shoulder, but it’s not blood.
My healer curiosity spikes up uncontrollably. “What happened to you?”
“I got bit by something…it hurts like hell.”
I can tell. He looks away with pained eyes and he tries to stand up again.
“Wait!” I stand up. He looks at me with a surprised expression. If I was someone else, I would be looking at me crazy too. “Don’t stand up.”
I walk towards him slowly and he looks me up and down curiously.
What am I doing? I should be running. What would anyone else do in this situation?
They would kill him.
I feel dizzy and in a dream-like state as I crouch down next to him.
“It’s Wesley right?” I ask him in a small voice. He nods his head slowly. My hand is shaking slightly as I gently touch his skin, showing that I’m not dangerous. “I can help you.”
He looks completely shocked beyond words as I take his hand and move it away to look at the bite.
I remember what Lydia told me and I close my eyes and concentrate. When I search inside Wesley’s “pool” as I think of it, it’s very warm and comforting. But, when I feel the painful venom from the bite, it’s a searing hot sensation and it makes me jump. In real life, I feel Wesley’s hand cover mine. I try and concentrate on healing the powerful venom instead of who I’m healing. The venom dissipates when I command it to. My eyes flutter open and I watch curiously as the red line’s under Wesley’s beautiful skin shimmer way.
“Are you real?” His eyes are a little blurry with shock and pain. I see the sweat all over his body and realize that I probably should have put him under because of the pain. I feel terrible and I touch his chest and look into his eyes.
“I’m sorry I hurt you.” I say this honestly. I can’t stand the thought of hurting when I’m supposed to be helping. Am I really this bad of a healer?
“Hurt? You saved my life.” He says in a breathy voice. He goes somewhat limp and I catch his head and shoulders. I position his big form over my lap so that he can relax. Lydia said that when someone’s injury has been causing them lots of pain and then is suddenly healed, it can leave the person a little woozy and delusional. She said that after a few minutes, under watch, they should be fine.
Had I really saved his life? I did feel the sick, hot deadly venom growing inside him but it wasn’t really that hard to heal, although it was scary.
Wesley’s beautiful eyes look up at me dreamily. “Are you a goddess? Is that why you saved me? You are more beautiful than any other girl I’ve ever seen.”
I laugh out loud. Me, a goddess? It makes his head bob up and down in my lap when I laugh. A goofy, and proud, grin crosses his face and it’s possibly the most adorable and charming thing I’ve ever seen.
“I know you.” He slurs. “You were there…”
“Wesley!” A male voice shouts in the distance. I hear two pairs of footsteps coming closer.
Seconds later, a tall Hawaiian girl steps into the clearing. Following her is Max. I recognize him instantly and fear seizes me.
The man who killed Dustin.
They freeze, looking at Wesley and I. I freeze, looking at them.
“It’s you, the girl from the Mahina tribe.” He mutters, recognizing me as well. The same look of shock crosses his face that I saw on Wesley.
The girl’s face morphs into anger when she hears the word Mahina and sees her friend lying limp in my lap.
“What have you done!” She screams. Before I can think or react or explain, she whips out something from behind her back and it gleams in the sparkling sunlight.
A knife. Then she charges. I scream uncontrollably. The next moments go by in slow motion in my mind. I scramble backwards, blind in fear of the malice in the girl’s eyes. I hear Max shouting. The girl’s black hair whips back as she comes towards me. A piercing ray of light bounces off her silver blade. It comes towards me in a blur and brace myself for the pain, closing my eyes and pleading to the heavens that it won’t hurt too bad. I second passes. I open my eyes and see the shape pointed weapon, inches from my chest.
Wesley’s huge hand grips the girl’s wrist. They glare into each other’s eyes.
The girl’s eyes go wide.
“I thought she has hurt you.” She says.
“She saved my life.” Wesley growls at her.
Her jaw drops in shock as Wesley pries the knife from her and tosses it away angrily. Then he looks his angry posture and gently helps me up from the ground. His warmth seeps from his skin to mine and my head spins.
I’m alive, I’m alive.
“I’m sorry.” Wesley says to me with a hurt look in his eyes. “Are you okay?”
I nod and look around shakily. Then, Pookie shows up calmly like nothing as happened.
I breathe in relief. My puppy saunters over to me and sits by my feet with his tongue hanging out of his mouth. I glare at him. You got me into this mess, I think.
“What exactly just happened?” Max asks. He looks just like I remember him; tall, slick hair, and brave eyes. He reminds me of Adam. This time Max isn’t mad, he is confused.
“What are you doing here?” The girl asks me sternly. I gulp and look to Wesley who has his arm around my waist. When did it get there?
“I got bite by something poisonous and she healed me.” Wesley tells his friends matter-o-factly. “She saved my life.”
“Well, that makes two of us now.” Max grins and steps forward, reaching out to shake my hand. “We must repay you somehow…”
“What are you doing?” The girl whispers to his sharply, but I can still hear. “She is from the Mahina tribe!”
Max ignores her and looks at me. “You have now saved my friend and I both from certain death. We owe you.”
“I think the chief would like to meet her.” The girl adds.
“Then it’s settled, you will come back with us, to the Noa tribe.”
I did not agree to this.
And yet, my feet begin moving to I follow them. In the lead is Max who walks with casual confidence. He seems totally at ease, but the girl and Wesley are extremely tense. The girl strides angrily next to Max and doesn’t care that I hear what she says.
“Max this is completely reckless and dangerous. We cannot trust her for one single moment, don’t you realize that?”
I can’t see Max’s face but I see him shake his head. “Lana, she is the only one from that tribe that we can trust. She saw what happened and she didn’t rat us out.”
“That means nothing.” Lana replies quietly.
“By the way,” Max looks over his shoulder at me. “What is your name?”
“Lucy,” I reply.
We continue our walk through the forest. I have obviously never been to this side of the Bordering forest and it almost seems a little greener and a little brighter. My heart begins to pound at the thought of the sun melting away, but it is still bright in the sky.
Strangely, I cling close to Wesley, the one I healed. He doesn’t talk with the other two. Somehow his presence is the opposite of intimating or frightening, unlike the girl who had just recently come close to killing me. I think of how Wesley stopped her. My heart warms a little and I notice that I’m walking close behind him like small, scared puppy. I’m angry at myself for being scared all the time, once again. If Mila was in this situation, so many things would be different. I think that they might be scared of her, instead of me being scared of them. Mila can really pack a punch if she wants to. She usually wants to.
Walking behind Wesley, what I really become in awe of is his appearance. I notice scars all over his biceps and forearms and I wonder if there are more underneath his shirt. There are old scars, raised and silvery, but there are also newer ones that are angry red. They are shaped in long slices and other random shapes. Amazingly, I barely even remember what a scar even looks like. When there are healers in your tribe, you will of course never have scars. I don’t see scars on the other two Noa people and this is the first time I question if Wesley is dangerous or not. How did he get all those scars and why wasn’t he healed?
The second thing I notice nearly shocks me to death. In the dark chocolate color of his hair, I see flecks of golden blonde. They are barely noticeable, but they are like my hair color. I have never seen any other Hawaiian with blonde hair.
“We are almost there.” He tells me. The tree line starts to become thinner and I start finding it hard to breathe.
What am I doing here? I’m going to get killed!
Wesley notices my slight hyperventilation and to my surprise, he grabs my hand. I look up into his blue eyes in shock.
“No one is going to hurt you, don’t worry.” He says confidently, but not in the hearing ranges of the other two. That unnerves me but I nod.
My feet touch sand. I gulp, my pulse pounding in my ears and then I look around and see dozens of people on the foreign beach. They don’t look up or notice me, none of them do. I feel like I’m walking through a mine field, waiting for someone to blow up and kill me. My whole body feels numb with anticipation.
I follow the three and they walk straight in one direction, on a mission to a certain destination. I remember that they mentioned that their chief would want to meet me.
Hopefully ‘meet me’ isn’t code for ‘murder me’. Then again, I try to tell myself that our tribe hasn’t done anything to make them mad or anger them or make them want to seek revenge. It’s the other way around. But, still, everyone knows that it’s a tense relationship. They might think that I’ve come to avenge the death of Dustin.
If anyone else from my tribe was here, they would probably be good to think that, but it’s me.
The strange healer who betrayed her own tribe.
Walking through the crowd of people by the foaming shore (which looks even more beautiful than the Mahina beach), Wesley stops next to a man who is speaking to a woman. Both are older, but not ancient, and have weathered faces that hold wisdom. They have perfect Hawaiian features, un-tampered with genes, and I can feel the superiority they have over others in the tribe. Maybe it’s my healer senses tingling.
“Hale, where is my father? We have an urgent matter.” Wesley says in a new tone; dignified and stoic.
Wait, ‘my father’? That means that Wesley is the Prince and Heir of the Noa tribe. This is new.
The man named Hale has a salt and pepper small beard that is scraggly and he is dressed as a through-and-through surfer with his board shirts and ocean-bleached T-shirt. He still somehow manages to feel intimidating when he looks at me. His eyes grow a little bit big.
“He is at the mansion. Who is she?” Hale says.
Wesley glances at me, then at Lana and Max. “Come with us.” He responds.
The woman that Hale was talking with steps forward and peers at me through squinted eyes. She is definitely powerful like Hale. I guess that they both must be advisors to the chief.
“I think that I should want to come too, but first who is she?” Her voice is cold and gravely. She looks me up and down and I gulp. I don’t even try to conceal that I’m hiding behind Wesley. Every single person surrounding us (Lana, Max, Hale, and the scary woman) looks down at the same time at Wesley’s hand covering mine. He stares back at them.
“Amile, this is Lucy, she is from the Mahina tribe.” He says strongly.
Amile recovers from the immediate shock quickly. “Well then, I’m sure that Lio, our chief, will be very interested in meeting you. Come this way.”
I let Wesley pull me along and our group follows Amile up the beach. We begin to get attention; a blonde stranger walking with some of the most important people in the tribe should come as a surprise. I feel eyes all over me and whispers following my steps.
I look down and see that I look like a mess. There is mud and grass stains on my dress and knees. Maybe people are thinking that I’m some kind of wild animal that their beautiful Heir has brought home from a hunt. The Noa tribe, being warriors, are also known for their hunting abilities. I imagine Sebastian and Alec trying to hunt and I almost laugh out loud.
Being a curious (maybe nosy) person, I look back in equal wonder at the people of the Noa tribe socializing along the shore and on the path that we are following that must lead to the Mansion. They are different than the Mahina people. They are more buff, louder, and more natural than my family. I notice that the girls have long, un-trimmed hair and skin that shows natural signs of aging. I realize that they are far more beautiful with those cute wrinkles that they have on the edges of their eyes. Mahina woman do their best to prevent those, but now I wonder why they would want to.
We reach the mansion. The Noa community is much like my tribe with the shore and houses going up the hill, close together and surrounded by greenery. But, the mansion is not at the top of the hill like it should be. The mansion is very secluded and at the edge of the beach. We have been walking through the sand, but for a few minutes now have not seen anyone. We enter into the forest, walk up a small and narrow dirt path, and then turn a corner.
The mansion can definitely still be described as a mansion, but unlike Mila’s home, it is inviting.
My thoughts are all wrong. I should not be out here all alone with these people. Two feet in front of me, is a boy who only a couple weeks ago, stabbed a blade into the chest of someone I am supposed to love like a brother and avenge like a family member. Instead, I am entering his home territory and feeling safe coming into the home of their chief.
Why does my life have to be so twisted? Why do I have to be so twisted?
The sun is setting and I feel like the weight of the horizon is being pressed down on my chest with every passing second. I need to leave.
But, I am too curious of this whole situation. So, I follow the group of Noa tribe members, including a friendly, casual, murderer, and I acknowledge my fate. Curiosity killed the cat. This might just be the end.
“This is Lucy.” Wesley introduces me to the large Hawaiian man in front of me. He looks at the way that Wesley is standing so close to me, but doesn’t notice how everyone else looks stern and stiff. The chief surprises me. In one motion, he sweeps me into a big hug in his thick arms. I’m so confused that I kind of just let it happen and even smile a little. He gives good hugs.
“Lucy; what a wonderful name. Why have I been given the pleasure of meeting you this afternoon?” He smiles and steps back from me. I give Wesley a timid look and he steps forward, speaking to his father seriously.
“Lucy is from the Mahina tribe, she is the one who witnessed the accident, and she found me in the forest and healed me.”
There is a moment of silence as we all watch this information sink in the chief’s mind. He thinks and then smiles at me.
“You, my friend, are truly a savior,” He says to me. His eyes are an inquiring green, but not too sharp or scary. “But, your motives elude me. Maybe you would care to sit down for dinner with us?”
Fear strikes in my chest. “No, I couldn’t, I should really be getting back…”
“It’s the least we could do! You have done so much for us.” A new face comes towards me, a woman who I hadn’t noticed yet. She came from the kitchen and stands next to the chief so I assume that she is the chiefess; Wesley’s mother.
Apparently, I have no choice because once she ushers me into the dinning room, everyone follows. I sit, I don’t argue, and I wait in timid fear. I’m not especially scared of all these people, except for maybe Lana the girl who tried to kill me, and the grumpy old lady, but I am extremely curious of why they think I’m so great.
I did betray my tribe for them, but that shouldn’t make me seem trustworthy or a hero. I’m a twisted, confused, scared girl. They shouldn’t care about me.
At first, the dimly lit dinning room with what seems like dozens of seats seems too small for our group. Then, others start to come. Someone must have sent for every important person in the whole tribe to meet at the mansion. Things would surely be different at the Mahina tribe. So much different.
Soon, the whole dinning table is full of people and chatter, most of which I can tell includes me since they always glance in my direction. I’m sitting at the end of the dinning table, in between Wesley and his mother. The chief sits at the head of the table, of course.
“I’m Noni,” The chiefess whispers to me. I shake her hand and meet her pretty blue eyes. That’s where Wesley gets them from. Noni is a petite woman with a constant youthful smile; one of my favorite kinds of people. I smile back at her. Young Hawaiian girls come and set plates of food in front of everyone. It astonishes me that they had already known how many people they would need to feed tonight. Noni sees the surprise and question on my face.
“The girls are my prodigies. They are in the running to become the next chiefess.” She explains to me. I connect the dots and realize that that means they must also be in the running for marrying Wesley. Things are also different from this in the Mahina tribe. Here I was thinking that all the tribes must be so similar in everything they do, but it’s not like that at all.
“How did you know that you would have to feed this many people?” I ask Noni curiously. She smiles.
“Mirilla, our prophetess. She is very good at what she does.”
To my surprise, there is no political or serious talk over dinner. Everyone simply enjoys the company and the food; both are delicious. I not only gobble up the Hawaiian dinner (I was very hungry), but I also absorb the way that everyone in this tribe seems to happily interact. They act like they really are one big family that loves each other, just like the tribes were first meant to be. The Noa tribe had offered me a lovely dinner in return for saving the lives of two of their boys and I definitely feel like they equal out. This is something completely new for me. In the Mahina tribe, the only ones I really feel close to are Mira and Lydia (possibly Adam). The saddest thing is that I didn’t mourn for Dustin at all. It was terrifying to watch his death, but I barely even spoke to him in all my life at the tribe. Already, I can tell that the Noa tribe might not be as “beautiful” as the divine Mahina tribe, but they are a different kind of beautiful, something that radiates.
In defense of my tribe, we are just simply more regal and dignified; we have important things to think about and worry about.
Or so I’ve been told by my parents.
Wesley must have seen my looking around the table in awe, because he leans down and whispers in my ear.
“What is so interesting about my family?” He asks with a hint of a laugh in his voice. I blush because I really must have been gawking. I look up and smile at him sheepishly.
“I’m sorry; everyone is just very different from my tribe. I didn’t mean to stare, I’m just curious.” I reply quietly. For some reason I’m very trusting with Wesley. Maybe it’s because he saved my life from Lana, right after I saved his. Usually, new acquaintances don’t really have that happen to them. Everything feels safe with Wesley; unlike others in the Noa tribe who I’m sure have their doubts.
I was right. After dinner is taken away, the discussion over me begins.
“Alright,” The chief clears his throat and everyone’s conversations die out. “I’m sure you all are wondering why I brought you here tonight and it’s obvious.”
He nods at me. Everyone stares. I gulp and feel my chest tightening.
“This girl is a savior for our tribe. There is nothing else to it.” He says confidently. All the air whooshes out of my lungs. That’s it? Just like that? I’m so surprised.
Amile scoffs loud enough for everyone to hear. Several others, including Hale and other dignified looking advisors are looking somber and annoyed.
“I’m guessing you have something to say, Amile.” The chief looks at her with a bored expression. I can tell that this must happen a lot.
“Yes, I do, Lio. All of you seem to trust this girl completely just because she has happened upon helping random strangers or for whatever reason she does what she does, but have you ever considered that she is tricking all of you? Have you ever known a Mahina tribe member to act like she does? She is a traitor! We cannot accept her here.” Amile becomes more adamant with every word and others nod in agreement with her. My heart sinks, even though I saw this coming.
“Wait a minute, Amile.” Wesley starts in his voice that I recognize as princely. “You can’t ignore the fact that she saved the lives of me and one of our warriors—”
“What is your name?” Suddenly a beautiful woman with deep, shiny black hair stands up and looks at me with piercing eyes.
“Lucy,” I reply softly, wondering why she is standing. Then, she comes over to where I am sitting. Everyone stands up in a rush, obviously not knowing what she is going to do. I stand up too and quickly clutch Wesley’s hand in a death grip. To everyone’s surprise, she hugs me tightly. I let go of Wesley’s hand. I hear her sniff. When she pulls back, I can see her eyes are wet.
“Lucy, thank you. Maximus is my son and I don’t know what I would do without him. Thank you for not letting him be killed, even if you think he deserved it.” She says genuinely. Maximus, what an interesting name. I look over and see Max looking away. He is obviously emotional too. I look back at his mother and her tender face. Everyone is quiet.
“What is your name?” I ask her in return.
She wipes her eyes. “Lena. My husband, Sean, would be here thanking you too, but he is out with a hunting party.”
“Well, Lena.” I take her hand carefully and look in her eyes. I say something that I hadn’t even thought of until now. “I saw what happened. Max doesn’t deserve death at all.”
She smiles at me and we hug again. The silence isn’t awkward as everyone takes their seats, but what is awkward is how everyone is looking at me so curiously. I share a glance at Max and blush as he gawks at me. I’m sure that I’m probably the exact opposite of what everyone expected. There is another pause.
“Why?” Hale is the next to speak. “Why did you do it?”
The moment of truth.
When I don’t respond immediately, grumpy old Amile speaks up.
“Yes, good question. Why in the world would you, a healer from the Mahina tribe, a royal…” She scrutinizes me up and down. “Why would you keep it a secret, the name of the man who killed one of your own? Why would you save a life, Wesley’s life, when he is friends with the killer of one of your own? Why are these questions so hard for you?”
“Amile.” The chief’s voice is stern and tames the beast momentarily.
“Maybe it’s because she is a healer.” Noni says. “My mother’s mother, rest both of their souls, was a healer and I remember being told that they have a strong instinct to prevent death, not to bring it. It is against her nature.”
“Yes!” I nearly shout. I blush at my outburst, but Noni had just given me my answer that even I had been searching for. I continue in a smaller voice. “Yes, any healer would do the same thing.”
“Then why didn’t you heal him?” Max jumps. “Why didn’t you heal the one that I hurt?”
I can tell he feels sorry for saying it, but the words still stab at my stomach, making me feel a little sick. I look down at my hands.
“Max,” Wesley growls at him.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry…I shouldn’t have.” Max says.
“It’s okay.” I shake my head. “I was…scared. Lydia, my mentor, was the official healer and I was inexperienced. I didn’t trust myself to heal him, but…Lydia couldn’t do it either. I wish I would have…but it was too late.”
Noni places a hand on my back consolingly. I smile at her.
“It’s alright Lucy,” She whispers. I try to push away the thoughts of Dustin once again, but they will probably always haunt me.
Lana, who is sitting next to Max, punches him in the shoulder. “Way to go Max, you made her feel bad!”
Max glares at her and rubs his shoulder. “What the heck Lana, why do you care? You almost killed her about an hour ago.”
“What?” Noni asks with wide eyes.
I laugh a Lana’s embarrassed expression. She and I share a knowing look, somehow becoming friends.
“I thought she hurt Wesley, geez it was just a misunderstanding.” Lana shrugs it off and Wesley shakes his head with a smile on his face.
I try to figure Lana out for a moment. She is beautiful and feminine with long silky light Hawaiian hair and glowing eyes, but dresses like a huntress and a tomboy. I remember that she was out in the woods with two boy hunters. Lana must be one of the few female warriors. I admire her unique character and notice another difference between the tribes.
Hale clears his throat, looking a little embarrassed, but still goes with what he wanted to say. “Lio, my chief, it is true that Lucy is a hero to our tribe, but she has come into our territory, into your home. What will happen if her tribe finds out about this?”
“They don’t have to know, right Lucy?” Lana says with a mischievous smile. She reminds me of Mila. I smile back at her.
They are so right. I could never tell anyone from my tribe that this happened. Who knows what they would do…
“This is dangerous. Very dangerous.” A man adds, one I had pegged as a reserved advisor. “Lying about visiting another tribe really is treason. It is against the law.”
“You know what I think.” Amile snorts.
“Here we go again.” I hear Max whisper from across the table. I stifle a giggle. Max smiles at me.
“What do you think?” Lio, their chief that I am really starting to like, says in a drab tone.
“She is showing signs of a perfectly practiced spy. She can collect any information from us right now and bring it back to her tribe. How can we risk that?” The old woman actually looks scared. Her eyes look tired, but sharp at the same time. I admire that she thinks critically for her tribe’s safety, even if her distrust is aimed at me.
The chief nods. “You’re right Amile, she could be a spy.”
I look at Wesley and he is frowning, his forehead scrunched up as he looks at his father. I feel worried. What if they decide to keep me here forever, so that I can never tell my tribe about their territory and their plans?
Here I go again, with my crazy and irrational fears.
Amile nods, happy that he agrees with something that she says.
“And there is only one way to see if she isn’t a spy, right?” Max smiles at me.
“Mirilla,” Noni calls. “Come here.”
The prophetess, of course.
I remember my father telling me, when he was explaining the roles of everyone in the tribe, that prophetess’ have a sense about people from other tribes. They can know their future intentions and what kind of good or bad aura they can bring to the tribe. The tribe never questions the instinct of the prophetess on this, never.
Their prophetess stands up. She had been sitting at the end of the table saying nothing. Like Alana, Mirilla is young and my age, but she looks nothing like my friend. The Noa tribe prophetess has dark brown hair, long and past her shoulders like the other girls. She smiles at me from across the room. Her eyes glitter and her smile is the sweetest I have ever seen. Sweet like Lydia’s smile, except less tired. Just like my mom (Alana lacks this) she has the all knowing look in her brown eyes, but this look is gentle instead of proud and unnerving like my mom’s. Instantly, I trust her because I know, I can feel it, that she knows all about me and all about my innocent intentions.
“Will you test her, Miri?” Noni asks, calling her by a friendly nickname.
She nods and smiles, still looking at me. “Of course.”
Minutes later, I am standing in front of the fireplace in the living room, with Mirilla in front of me. Everyone else is watching closely, but at a careful and curious distance. Wesley is not too far away, as well as the chief. I look at Wesley nervously, but he nods at me with a smile. I can feel that it means that I will be okay. It isn’t very often that I meet someone like him that can convey things without words.
“Go ahead, Mirilla.” Lio, their regal chief, says in his deep voice.
My heart is thumping even though that I know that I’m not a spy and I mean no harm to these people, but she can see the future and I can’t. She closes her eyes and stands very still. Slowly, she raises her hand and softly touches my cheek. Moments pass and I grow more nervous. The only noise is the small fire in the fireplace, burning brightly in the moonlit room. The moonlight comes in through large, open window in the living room facing the noise-filled forest. I hear crickets and distant chirps.
Mirilla opens her eyes quickly, bouncing on her toes and shocking me with a grin.
She announces to the whole group, “Just like I thought. Not only isn’t she a spy, but she brings future…help to the Noa tribe. She is no treat.”
Everyone lets out a huge breath, but I only let out a small one. I am of course relieved that the Noa tribe will not have to punish me for being a spy, but I am terrified that I am actually a traitor. I am no treat to the enemy and I bring future help to the enemy. This may make the Noa tribe happy, but my tribe…they wouldn’t feel the same way at all.
But, Miri’s kind and welcoming smile makes me feel at ease. She pats my hand and gives me a happy look. It’s contagious and I feel happy again instead of worried.
Wesley appears next at my side. Everyone else fades away, but I hear them talking again in the background, ignoring me finally.
He stands awfully close to me and his tall and wide shoulders tower over me. I have to lean my head back to look up at him.
“I knew I could trust you.” He says softly. His intense and unembarrassed gaze makes me blush. I smile.
“Thank you,” I say in response quietly. Then, I remember suddenly that there is moonlight shining in the room.
“Oh god,” I breathe nervously. “It’s so late. I need to get back home.”
I say it loud enough that everyone hears. They stop talking and look at each other.
“Wesley,” The chief calls. “can I trust you to make sure she gets home safely?”
Wesley nods and I’m glad that it’s him. Then, Lio, the enemy chief pulls me into a hug that I enjoy. I don’t feel regretful for liking his hugs, even though I definitely should. Then he pats me on the back, giving me smile and backs away after whispering something in my ear.
“You are always welcome here Lucy, though I realize that it is difficult.” I nod at him and then I begin getting goodbyes from everyone else. Lena, Max’s mother hugs me and smiles at me. Lana gives me an approving nod. Max sheepishly pats me in the shoulder and I can tell that he isn’t very good with serious words, but it is conveyed through his eyes. Hale shakes my hand in a serious and political way. Amile still glares at me through leery eyes, but I hadn’t expected anything less. Noni hugs me like a loving mother.
“I really hope to see you again.” She says honestly. I can’t help but reply honestly as well.
I wish I didn’t say things like that. I shouldn’t. But, I do. I’m scared of the day when I won’t feel scared or regretfully of saying them. Lastly, Mirilla hugs me even though we had barely said anything to each other. I still feel like we have known each other for a while. Maybe she has known about me for longer than I realize.
“See you later!” She chirps with a knowing smirk. I smile back but feel my stomach twist. If she thinks that I will see her later, than it is an impending truth. Could I be any more terrified of that?
“You shouldn’t go any farther.” I whisper to Wesley. We are still hidden in the shadows of the Mahina forest. I had tried to convince him to stay on his side of the Bordering Forest, but he refused. He grips my arm gently.
“Are you sure you will be alright?” He asks, looking at me seriously.
I nod. “I will make something up for why I was gone, don’t worry.”
We stand there for a moment in silence. I don’t know what he is thinking, but I’m thinking that I’m more afraid of not seeing him again than I am afraid of my tribe’s wrath. Bad, that is so bad.
“I guess this is goodbye,” I start to step away, thinking that he isn’t going to say anything more, but he stops me.
“Lucy, I haven’t thanked you for saving my life. I know that I probably would have died by the poisonous bite if you weren’t there.” He steps closer to me and I gulp.
“You thanked me by stopping Lana from attacking me.” I smile at him and he smiles back.
“Yeah, sorry about that, she can be a little brash.” He laughs and I nod.
“Goodbye Wesley.” I step back again and this time he lets me.
I rush away towards my house up the hill, hoping that no one sees me emerge from the forest in the middle of the night. Wesley rushes away in the other direction, towards his house. I feel the distance grow between me and the Noa tribe and, honestly, it hurts more than a little bit.
Once I reach my house, I’m out of breath so I take a moment to collect myself before I enter my house. I walk in to find my whole family, plus Mila talking amongst them. When I hear a bark I see Pookie running towards me. Pookie! I feel absolutely terrible for forgetting about him, but I was so shocked with everything that happened I forgot all about him. I’m relieved that he found his way home without me.
I crouch down and laugh as he licks my ankles as I pet his soft, fluffy head.
“Good dog.” I whisper.
“Lucy!” Mila yells. She comes and wraps me in a hug. I hear my mother gasp. “Where have you been?”
I step back nervously. My mom, dad, brothers, and Mila all look at me. I had already come up with something, but my throat feels like it closing up in fear.
“We almost sent some guys out to look for you! We were so worried.” My mom says with wide eyes.
“Sorry! I was hiking and was taking a break and I dozed off accidently. I woke up and it was dark and Pookie was gone. I’m so sorry.” I bite my lip, hoping that they will forgive me, let it go, and ask no more questions. Lesley, my mother, sighs and hugs me.
“Alright, I’m just glad you’re back. Please be more responsible next time. And go to bed. You can stay if you want Mila.” Then my family, simple as that, walks back to their rooms. My oldest brother, Julian, catches me with a lingering and questioning look. His insightful personality scares me in this situation, but I try to convince him of my innocence with a sweet smile. He seems un-phased.
“Lucy, you’re not going to believe what you missed.” Mila grabs my attention again.
“What happened?” I ask nervously.
“Mano made an announcement that it’s now a crime to engage with the Noa tribe, it’s punishable by exile!”
Here I am again, the night after visiting the enemy tribe, out about to break more tribal rules. I keep telling myself this isn’t me; I don’t do things like this. But, I am doing this. It’s the truth.
Mila and I are walking towards the Mahina dock in the beautiful Hawaiian moonlight, past the swaying palm trees and through the cool sand, up to the rickety wooden dock that Adam’s large, luxury speedboat is resting at. We see him on board and he motions for us to join him. We climb aboard and I continuously look around for anyone who might see us, but we are all alone on the dock at this midnight hour.
The three of us greet each other and Mila says with a grin, “Let’s get this show on the road.”
Adam unties the boat and then we all follow him inside, out of the uncomfortable night breeze. It’s colder than usual tonight. Inside is a lavish room with expensive looking cream-colored leather and a shiny steering wheel. We can see out to the sea from in here and it looks beautiful as it glistens and moves in the moonlight. Adam takes the wheel, starts it up and the boat roars majestically. I must look impressed because he smirks proudly at me. I roll my eyes at him with a smile. There is a wide leather couch behind the steering wheel and across from it is a desk with a laptop and other things like maps and papers.
I sit on the couch, but Mila walks to Adam. They both look and talk over the map leading to Himeni Island, finding the right direction.
“How long is it going to take to get there?” I ask them. They both ignore me and I sigh. As I sit on the couch, I take comfort in the rocking motion of the waves beneath me and I let my thoughts wander. I feel like I’m back in the real world when I’m with my tribe again, but so many things have changed. If I’m going to be completely honest with how I’m feeling, the way that I think about my tribe and the other tribes have drastically changed. So much so that it feels weird to be here with Mila and Adam. I have betrayed them. It feels strange to pretend like nothing happened a day ago. Secrets are not my strong suit; they feel weird when they are cooped up inside of me but I’m going to have to learn to live with them, unless I want to face the consequences.
I don’t want to face the consequences.
Exile is not something that people consider in the tribes very often any more. The only other crime that I know of is a law that was created generations ago. This law is the Law of the Outsiders. The reason that Hawaiian’s in our tribes have genes such as green and blue eyes and different hair colors is because women or men used to explore outside the territory and meet outsiders (Hawaiians from the island who aren’t in any tribes) and have children with them. This caused lots of chaos and change, but the tribes wouldn’t accept it. They wanted to preserve the Hawaiian heritage and, most importantly, the divine bloodline passed down through the chief’s since the beginning. Without our divine bloodline, the tribes would be no different from anyone else. There would be no healers or prophetesses or our special warriors. But, when it comes to Sebastian and me (those of the royals with un-classic genes such as blonde and auburn hair) it is simply assumed that our genes are signs and gifts from the gods. Brown hair is symbolized by the goddess Pele, of fire, but other colors are unknown.
“Hey, Lucy,” Adam stirs me from my thoughts and flashes me a sultry smile. “Want to try your hand at steering?”
I smile back at him. “Sure.”
I step forward and he stands behind me, showing me what to do. I blush while he stands close to me and when he talks, his breath caresses my shoulder. I catch Mila watching us with hawk-like eyes. I feel like an anchor is weighting down my heart until it reaches a sad spot at the bottom of my stomach.
“Lucy, can I talk to you privately for a moment?” She says a little harshly. She actually glares at Adam. I see him look away from both of us and my heart crumbles a little bit for him. I glare at Mila and she meets my eyes sharply and then jerks her head in indication for me to follow her outside. I give Adam an apologetic look and he takes the wheel again. I meet Mila outside on the front deck of the boat.
She turns around and crosses her arms, raising an eyebrow at me.
“What?” I snap at her. I don’t usually get mad like this, but tonight I’m tense and everything is annoying me. I walk away from her and lean on the edge of the speed boat, looking down at the white sea spray shooting up from underneath the boat.
“What do you think you are doing, Lucy?” She stomps towards me, standing next to me. I don’t look at her. I just glare at the ocean.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I respond.
“You are flirting with Adam. You can’t do that. The only person you should be thinking about right now is your future husband, Sebastian!”
I can’t believe she is doing this to me right now.
“Since when are you the flirting police, huh? Why do you care?” I turn on her, feeling hurt.
She frowns. “I care because he is my brother and you are being unfaithful. I can tell that Adam likes you, but Sebastian is now your man.”
I gawk at her. “Seriously, unfaithful? Are you really doing this?” My blood begins to boil.
“Yes, Lucy, you have to think about these things now—” Thankfully Adam cuts her off.
“Land, ho!” He shouts dramatically. We look up and see the small tropical island approaching. My anger turns into excitement. Mila and I share a look of awe as we scramble to the edge of the boat to get a closer look at the beautiful island.
Once we are at just the right distance, Adam drops the anchor and the three of us put on our wet suits over our bathing suits. I forget about my stupid ‘responsibilities’ with Sebastian and I grow giddy. Even though this is dangerous, rule-breaking, and reckless…adventure is adventure.
We dive in and swim the short distance to the un-touched beach. I carried the map in a water-proof holster over my shoulder and while we catch our breath on the dark shore, I pull it out. I look at the back side of the map, where it shows the island in detail. Adam and Mila look over my shoulder.
“It shows that from any point on the shore, you have to walk straight forward to the center of the island and there you will find the tomb.” I say.
“What if it’s not there?” Mila says nervously. It’s rare that she shows this emotion.
“It’ll be there.” Adam responds confidently. Then, our group is off. We walk the few feet up the beach and then we are in the thick rainforest of Himeni Island. It feels like a dream.
It’s more condensed and steamy in the jungle, so I unzip the top half of my tight wet suit to get some air. Mila and Adam do the same. This jungle is strangely quiet and the noisy breeze doesn’t reach us from here. The air is thick and unmoving.
It is hard to maneuver through the jungle because there are no man made paths. Adam brought his trusty machete and cuts through obstacles so we can go in a straight path towards the center of the island. It feels like such a long trek and we really don’t exchange that many words. The suspense rises.
“I wonder what we will find in the coffin, if it’s even there.” Mila thinks out loud as we walk.
“Probably a nice, friendly ghost.” Adam responds jokingly. She rolls her eyes at him but I smile.
“I think if anyone would know what is in there, it would be Mateo, and he says runes.” I say.
“So, some pretty gems? I can go for that.” Adam smirks. He slices through a thick branch powerfully, his skin slick with sweat.
“Not just any shiny rocks; runes that can summon the Hawaiian gods.” Mila grins.
“You really believe that?” Adam asks her seriously.
She thinks about that for a moment, glancing at me. “Maybe. I guess we will find out.”
“Whoa, whoa.” I stop in my tracks. “You can’t try to summon what of the gods, what if it actually happens!”
Mila and Adam look at each other and burst out laughing.
“Are you serious Lucy, I’m joking! Duh, they can’t summon the gods, it’s just a legend. Come on, let’s keep going.” Mila says and we all start forward again.
Just a legend…
But what if it’s not.
It feels like another hour’s walk before the trees that reach high in the sky start to thin out and I can see a clearing in the forest approaching. Here we go, I think.
There it is, just like the map said and just like Mateo told the legend. I gasp, actually surprised to find it.
“Wow,” Mila marvels.
“I told you it would be here.” Adam grins.
The tomb definitely looks ancient. It appears to be made out of tan-colored rock that is beginning to crumble. A corner of the roof is missing; there are holes in the walls and rocks all around it. The opening of the tomb is partially collapsed but there is still enough space for us to enter. The ruin stands alone, quietly, in the middle of the eerie clearing, in the creepy jungle, on this strange island.
Why did I agree to come here?
“Awesome!” Mila squeals. “Let’s go in.”
Of course, there are no lights inside, but Adam brought a flashlight as well. He came prepared. We approach the entrance carefully, like something bad could happen at any moment.
“There could be huge spiders in there or something.” I point out nervously. They both ignore me and I toughen myself up. My curiosity always wins over fear anyways and this time is no different.
Adam goes in first and then Mila follows behind him. I hesitate one moment and then realize that I don’t want to be alone outside the tomb, so I follow. I step over the large rock in the entrance and place my feet on the thankfully solid ground of the tomb. It’s a tiny little structure with room for really only one thing; a coffin. As I step forward next to Mila and Adam, I kick up clouds of dust that had collected on the floor. It chokes me and blinds me for a moment and I cough, waving my hands in the air.
“Are you guys okay?” I ask them. They have been silent.
“Lucy, come here.” Mila says. I step up next to her and Adam shines the light in front of us in the darkness. I freeze.
“Oh my gosh…” I smile in wonder and excitement and shock. The coffin is there. It comes up to the height of my knees and is covered in dust and spider webs. It looks like what I would imagine any ancient coffin would be like. The lid looks heavy and there are intricate carvings on the outside, but no Hawaiian words. The carvings, I look closely at them from the light of the flashlight, have drawings of god-like figures, fire, and other beautiful symbols I don’t recognize.
“So, who’s going to open it?” Mila says, obviously meaning it’s not going to be her.
“Should we open it?” Adam questions carefully, looking at Mila and I.
“I’m not doing it! Remember what Mateo said?” Mila starts to bite her nails.
“What did Mateo say?” Adam asks.
“He said that another legend claimed that you will be cursed if you open it because you are setting free an exiled soul.” I say in a shaky voice.
“Oh, great.” Adam says in a tone that suggests it definitely isn’t that great.
“We can’t come all the way out here and not open it.” Mila admits.
“Now I don’t know if it is that great of an idea.” Adam adds.
“I’ll do it.” I say before I even think about it. I step forward, my curiosity guiding me towards danger once again.
“Lucy, are you sure?” Mila asks warily.
“We have to know, don’t we?” I look at them for support and they nod. “Okay, shine the flashlight over here.”
Adam does and while I step forward in that moment, I definitely feel like Indian Jones. It’s thrilling but also scary. Without thinking to hard about it, I grip the heavy stone lid of the coffin and I push hit with all my might. I grunt and it slowly begins to move. After it’s halfway opened it tips over and slides off the whole way. It thuds to the ground, shaking the whole structure of the tomb. Mila, Adam, and I brace ourselves, but no dangerous rocks cave in on our heads.
“What is inside?” Mila asks excitedly. I look down and a smile spreads across my face.
“Runes!” I shout in surprise. Mila and Adam rush forward, shining the light down on four glowing stones. Mila snatches them up out of the dusty coffin and we all look at them closely. They are cut expertly and are all equal in size, about the same size as the palm of an infant. All four of them fit perfectly in Mila’s hand. They are each a different color; ruby red, emerald green, deep sea blue, and onyx black. All beautiful.
“Mateo’s father was right.” I say while looking at the runes wide-eyed. Mila nods, but she looks like she is hypnotized by them. Adam shakes his head in shock, and then looks down at his watch.
“It’s nearly two a.m., we should be heading back now.” He says, being the responsible one. We walk a lot more quickly back the same path we came until we reach the shore. Following our footprints in the sand, until we see our boat. Then, we zip up our wetsuits, place the map and the runes in the water-proof holster, and swim out to the boat. The water is cold and tough to fight against, but we all make it. One by one we climb up the ladder until we are safely back on the deck of the speedboat.
“Mission accomplished.” I say with a laugh. Adam smiles back at me, but Mila doesn’t.
“Get the runes out again.” She commands. I hand her the container and she fishes them out, holding them and admiring them again. Adam gives her a strange look and then goes back to raise the anchor. I have taken what seems like forever to finally get the annoying wet suit off and Adam comes back with a towel for me. Mila is off by herself, sitting on the edge of the deck with the runes. I take the towel from Adam and begin drying myself off.
“Are you girls ready to head back?” Adam asks.
“Ready when you are captain.” I smile at him, but Mila doesn’t respond. Adam gives me a questioning look but I just shrug. A minute later, I’m wrapped up in a towel content and happy and Adam is speeding us away from Himeni Island forever. Even though it is creepy, I’m going to miss the island.
I walk over to join Mila. She is holding the runes up and watching them reflect in the moonlight.
“They are amazing,” She thinks to herself and before I can answer she jumps up from where she was sitting on the bench on the deck. “Come with me.”
We go back inside the boat where Adam is.
“Can I use this, Adam?” She asks, pointing at the computer.
“Sure,” He responds. “But don’t forget to close everything out after you’re done so my parents don’t get suspicious.”
Mila sits down and begins typing quickly and scanning the screen.
“What are you looking for?” I ask curiously. I take the seat next to her at the desk and peer at the screen. It’s a website about Hawaiian legends and this page is titled Runes of Himeni Island.
Mila gasps at something she has read. Adam glances over his shoulder at us.
“There are seven missing.” Mila announces.
“What?” I ask, confused. She turns to look at me wide-eyed.
“There are supposed to be eleven runes, one for each of the most prominent Hawaiian gods and goddesses. We only found four. There are seven missing.” She explains.
“What does that mean?” I wonder.
“It means that someone got to the island before we did.” Adam says from the wheel.
“Maybe it was Mateo?” Mila wonders. “But…he told the legend like he didn’t know the answer to the mystery he was talking about.”
“Maybe that just makes for a better story.” Adam says. Good thinking. I admire the smarts that Adam hides under his beautiful smile.
“It could be the guy who we got this map from.” I think. Mila nods.
“Or it could be someone else entirely.” Adam adds.
We are all quiet for a second and then I ask, “What else does the page say about the runes?”
Mila turns back to the screen and reads with wide eyes.
“Each color rune is for a certain god. It lists them all.”
“Which gods do we have?” I ask.
“Red is for Pele. Green is for Lono. Blue is for Kanaola. Black is for Ku.” She reads, her excitement growing. “We have some of the most powerful ones!”
“Just our luck.” I smile. Mila smiles with me, and then looks back at the runes in her hands. Because we are of divine Hawaiian descent, we were taught from a young age about all of the Hawaiian legends and gods and goddesses. I think back on my knowledge. Pele is the goddess of fire and volcanoes and is very well known locally. Kanaola is the god of death (or the underworld), teacher of sorcery, and the deadly ocean. Lono is the god of peace, harvest, and music. Finally, Ku is the god of war.
“Amazing.” Mila whispers.
“Oh, Mila,” Adam says. “Can you leave your wetsuit out on the deck? I don’t want to damage the leather in here.”
Mila looks down at her wetsuit which is still soaking and she nods. She heads out to the deck and I bring her a towel after Adam tells me where they are. He also tells me that in the kitchen in the back are the things for making some hot tea. He always has the best ideas. I head back there and make three steaming mugs of black tea for us. I hand one to Adam and he grins, taking a sip.
“Thanks for doing this with me.” I smile at him. With his other arm he pulls me in for a wet hug. I laugh and he says, “Anytime Luce.”
The nickname is cute and warms my heart a little. “You better keep your hands on the wheel.” I say in a jokingly stern voice. Then I go out on the deck, bringing Mila her tea as well.
She is in her bikini at the edge of the deck, still holding the runes like they are her precious babies. She is acting very strange, but I don’t say anything about it.
“Here you go.” I hand her the tea and she accepts it.
“So,” I start as I lean against the edge of the boat next to her. “Are we going to tell anyone about, or show anyone the runes?”
She shakes her head immediately. “No, lets just keep this to ourselves.”
“What about Mateo?”
Mila looks at me with almost angry eyes. “I don’t trust him. I think he was probably the other person who took some of the runes.”
“Why would he only take some of them?” I ask her, stating the obvious.
She frowns and then shakes her head. “I don’t know, but I think that these runes were destined for me. I don’t ever want to let them out of my sight. My favorite part about them, is the way that they look in the moonlight—”
She holds them up for me to see and just then the boat jostles over a large wave and knocks us both a little off our balance. I watch in pure shock as all four glittering stones tumble out of Mila’s grasp and plop into the ocean. They disappear.
Mila screams, “No! Are you kidding me?!”
I’m now the official healer of the Mahina tribe. It feels real now that I’ve been doing it everyday for a week now. Lydia has been asking me to come over every day and work at her home. Everyone is so used to going to Lydia’s when they are hurt, so we haven’t broken the routine. I feel better with Lydia there, just in case I need her help. Mainly the surfers, adventures, and little kids of the Mahina tribe come to see me with physical injuries, where-as older tribe members come with other, more serious illness’. I’m amazed at how many people come to me in one day; at least a dozen, more or less.
It’s so much fun, healing new faces everyday. I recognize everyone and can usually think of their name, but there is something more connecting when you heal someone. It’s joyfully rewarding for me and my healer instincts. So far I had felt that I’m probably the worst healer in Tribal history, but when I see heal people from my tribe and see their relief, it’s great. And I don’t feel like such a bad healer anymore.
“I’m going to go out to get some fresh breakfast from the market; will you be okay here alone for a little while?” Lydia asks me from the doorway of the healing room. I’m looking at a bloody scrape on a surfer, one of Adam’s friends. I feel a little nervous without Lydia, but confident enough to reply, “Yes, of course.”
“Would you like anything? I know it’s going to be a busy day for you and the family since the surfing contest is tomorrow night.” Lydia says.
“I already ate.” I smile at her and she leaves. Cameron is the name of the boy with the bloody scrape.
“How did you get this?” I ask him, while wiping the blood running down his leg off of his skin with an antiseptic wipe. Cameron shakes his head at the thought.
“I was out on an early morning mountain climbing excursion, but I couldn’t finish because of this cut from a rock I had gotten, and my knee has been killing me. I think I might have worked it too hard.” Cameron explains. “I was looking forward to climbing today too. Oh well.”
I smooth my hand over his knee, sensing it from the inside and feeling his pain strike through me. I cringe.
“Sorry,” Cameron says honestly. I frown at him, laughing.
“Why are you apologizing?” I ask. Cameron is a short guy, but his muscles are lean and strong, probably from mountain climbing. His hair is a lighter shade of the classic Hawaiian black, it almost looks dark chestnut. His eyes hold the same color.
“I’m sorry you have to heal me.” He clarifies.
“No, I love doing it.” I tell him with a wide smile. “Aren’t you a surfer? I swear I’ve seen you out with Adam and the boys before.”
“Are you entered in the contest?” I ask him while beginning to heal him. I’ve gotten good at multitasking while healing someone. It takes less concentration now, especially when I’m doing small things. I mainly do small things. So far, no one near-dead has been brought to me. I hope that time is far away.
“Nah, I’d rather be climbing than surfing, honestly.” Cameron grins at me.
“I’ve never tried rock climbing, but now I want to.” I send warm, soothing energy to Cameron’s knee and leg. The scrape on his leg starts to turn from red to pink around the edges as it’s healed. I hear Cameron suck in a breath.
“I’m sorry, does it hurt too much? I can put you under if you want.” I start, but he starts to shake his head, laughing at my worrying.
He smiles. “I’ll be fine. You know, if you want, I could show you how to rock climb, it would be fun.”
“That would be fun!” I say. No one could pass up viewing the Hawaiian horizon from a new perspective.
I finish healing Cameron and he leaves. Lydia still isn’t back, but I have to head home anyways. I close up and lock Lydia’s house with the key she gave me. My phone number is on the door for emergencies, so I don’t worry too much about people needing me and me not being there.
I’m watching a soft white bird float above the ocean waves as I walk down the beach, when my phone rings.
“Hello?” I answer.
Veering of the sandy shore, I take the path up the hill towards my home.
“Lucy, we need you home now!” My mom says in a nervous but stern voice.
“I’m on my way mom.” I respond and then hang up. My mom was a surfer back in her younger years and now she is one of the main directors of the Tribal Surfing Contest, held on this date every year. I’m always recruited to help her, but I never complain. Although I’m totally terrible at surfing, it is fun to watch. All of my friends from the Mahina tribe usually place very well in the contest each year. Especially Sebastian, he is always determined to win and never gets less than third place. Also, obviously, this is another one of the few events where the tribes mingle and interact. Normally, I would be excited and I am, but now I’m also extremely nervous. I’ll be near the Noa tribe. But, this time the Mahina tribe will be watching. I’m hoping that no one will try to talk to me because that will look so beyond suspicious and now it’s illegal. The Noa tribe and the Mahina tribe are silent enemies now. I don’t want to accept that, it’s frightening.
Once I’m inside my house, there is a sharp change from a peaceful evening walk with Hawaii’s beautiful nature music, to chaos. There are people everywhere, boxes of decorations, and my mother standing in the middle directing the whole thing. Lesley Anolani would never admit that she likes to set up things last minute and on a tight schedule, but she does. Maybe my mother enjoys the rush of it all.
“Lucy!” She calls me over. I push past a pack of elderly surfer men and women who are looking over some papers. I recognize them as the Mahina judges of the contest. I walk up to my mom and she is on the phone, but she seems to just be listening to someone talk. She sees me and hands me a piece of paper. She tilts the phone away from her face for a moment.
“I need you to pick up these flower arrangements that we ordered from Aloha Arrangements. Adam told me that he would help you. He is over there speaking with the decorating crew. Take the jeep and meet at the Mahina beach at 6:30 for official set up.” And then she goes back to her phone call and turns away from me.
I look around and see Adam talking to another Hawaiian man, just like my mom said. He sees me too and waves me over. We exchange wordless smiles and the man gives us strange looks.
“Thanks Reggie, we will take these boxes and head to the beach after we get the flowers. See you there.” Adam says to him while taking one large box and then Reggie hangs me the other.
“We can take the jeep.” I relay to Adam and he nods. Adam follows me as I find the keys and we head out. It’s such a rare thing that I’m actually hanging out alone with him. Mila is usually there, blabbing on about how angry she is that she dropped those runes over the edge of the boat. It was shocking to everyone. All that work for nothing. In the other adventure stories, the characters don’t go to all that trouble to find hidden treasure, only to lose it in the next hour. Without Mila there, we can say what we really think without hurting Mila’s feelings.
“Do you think she did it on purpose?” Adam shocks me with his question. I’m driving us towards the flower shop, listening to the waves from my rolled down window and to the sound of Adam’s inquiring voice.
“Who?” I ask.
“Do you think that Mila dropped those runes in the ocean on purpose?” He says again. I give him a strange look, but I still consider it. Every time I talk with Adam, he shows me more and more of the knowledge that he hides in his head. I like that about him; his interesting way of thinking. Most other Hawaiian surfers don’t usually think the way he does.
“Why in the world would she do that?”
Adam wrinkles his forehead. “Who knows, maybe because she didn’t want anyone else to know about them? The only reason I’m considering this is because it just seems so strange the way she was acting. She was hovering over them, always standing by the edge of the boat. It also seems weird that she would be careless enough to drop them.”
“She was acting weird.” I admit. “But, I don’t think Mila would do that. I think she would go and brag to people like Mateo about her successful adventure.”
“But, she didn’t want to tell anyone about finding them, not even Mateo.” Adam reminds me.
I shake my head. “That is unusual, but I guess it doesn’t really matter anymore. They are gone forever.”
We pull in front of Aloha arrangements, another cute little store located along the popular boardwalk near the Mahina community. Adam opens the door for me and we enter the serene shop. It’s like my mothers store, except strictly for arrangements and catering for events. The place is small but full of fresh and classic Hawaiian flowers. Another thought strikes my mind as I’m looking at Adam when he goes to the front desk, waiting in the short line.
“Why didn’t you enter in the surfing competition this year? I think you are good enough.” I look at his perfectly chiseled form. He would definitely be intimidated competition for the other two tribes.
Adam shakes his head. “I love surfing, but I’m not the competitive type. Plus, who are we kidding anyway? Someone from the Kona tribe wins every year and we all have to pretend to be surprised.”
Adam laughs and I smile with him. “You never know, there could be a diamond in the ruff from the Mahina tribe and he just didn’t feel like entering in the contest.”
Adam looks me over with a sparkle in his eye, but I can tell he doesn’t believe that I’m actually being honest by the entertained smirk on his face. I do think that Adam has amazing potential. Healer senses? Probably not.
“Well, I would rather help you than get my butt kicked in a surfing competition.” Adam says while nudging me playfully. I giggle and blush a little, hoping that Adam doesn’t flirt with lots of girl besides me. Maybe he is more like Mila; a charmer, but I haven’t seen that side of him except with me…so far.
It’s our turn in line finally and we pick up the four large boxes of flower arrangements. I take a peak inside the box and see that it is filled with purples and pinks instead of the blues and greens that we ordered. I point this out to Adam and he shakes his head.
“Hey, Jerry!” He shouts to the owner. “This is the wrong order…”
Jerry comes up and shakes his head, arguing that the papers that he got said this. I’m not one for watching arguments, it makes me nervous, plus I know this might take a while to get straightened out. My mom will not like this but if I can help it, she won’t ever know.
The Aloha arrangements store is wondrous. Even more wondrous than my mom’s store because it has an array of flowers that have to be shipped in because they don’t grow on the islands. Flute music plays in a soft tune over head in the store. I walk through the rose section, petting the many colored soft petals gently. They are beautiful. There are two other girls in the same aisle; they look like locals, about my age…maybe a little older. I try not to stare. They don’t try not to stare. They do stare at me and then shoot each other looks every other second. I ignore them because it isn’t unusual for people to look at me weird. Locals, non-tribal outsiders, can recognize a tribal member by our looks and by the small white brand we have on our neck in the shape of our tribal symbol. We are never allowed to cover up our tribal mark. The two girls walk over to the next aisle. They start talking to each other, probably thinking it’s in private, but through the thin rows of flowers…I can still hear them. I stand there and listen even though I don’t want to.
“Who was that girl?” Girl number one asks in a harsh, judgmental voice.
“Duh, she is one of those weird tribal people who live in those communities.” Girl number two responds.
“How do you know that?” Girl number one asks.
“That mark she has on her neck. It’s like a huge cult religion. They are all freaks. They think that they have divine ancestry and powers or whatever.” Girl number two snorts. Girl number one snickers.
They have it all wrong. It’s stupid that I’m actually affected by the stranger’s words. My stomach is all twisted up in hurt. If only they would take the time to figure us out. The Tribal community doesn’t try to keep secrets from outsiders, but they don’t want anything to do with them. No relationships with them, at all.
The Tribes aren’t cults. The way I think of it is that in our community the church and state aren’t separate. It’s a government and a religion. Most dominantly it’s a way of life that you are born into, not a way of life that you can choose.
I go back to help Adam with the boxes of the correct flowers. I’m glad that I had Adam here to help me with this. The boxes are especially heavy. Adam carries three with ease. I struggle with one, feeling helpless.
Then, I drive us back towards the Mahina beach, realizing something. I am a healer. I live in paradise. I’m constantly surrounded by people I love. Those girls should be jealous of me.
Then, I remember that I’m engaged to a boy I don’t love and I have secretly broken a huge tribal law that will result in my exile if anyone ever finds out.
Maybe they shouldn’t be so jealous after all.
My mother does quick work. Pulling up to the beach, I see dozens of people at work setting up half an hour before the official set up time. Three tables for the judges of each participating tribe are being set up on the shore. To the right is the stage where the winners will be announced and the trophies will be presented. There is a booth for surfer check-ins. Now it’s time for decorations and flowers; things that we have brought. Before I am even halfway out of the car, my mother is there with her clip board and headset.
“Did you get the stuff?” She asks quickly.
“Yeah, it’s in the back.” I reply with a laugh as she nearly sprints to the boxes.
“Why are you in such a hurry?” I ask her.
“The other tribe’s judges will be arriving soon and I don’t want our lack of set up to portray the Mahina tribe as lazy bums. So get to work setting up. Oh, and Sebastian is around here somewhere. He was looking for you.” Then my mom takes a box of decorations and starts yelling at nearby workers.
My stomach drops at the thought of Sebastian and I cringe. Where can I hide so that he won’t find me? I think to myself.
“Are you okay?” Adam asks me with a raised eyebrow. I shake it off.
“Yes, sorry, let’s get to work.” I say and then we do get to work strategically places the arrangements around the beach. The whole time I’m looking around for Sebastian, ready to make a run for it.
Thankfully, in the past couple of weeks he hasn’t approached me too strongly since Mila’s birthday party. I’m glad about that, hopefully he got the message loud and clear. Although, I know that he isn’t going to simply leave me alone forever. My time may have run out.
Adam and I move along the tree line with the flowers. We have already put them by the stage, booth, tables, and the viewing area. The tribe members that come to watch the competition sit on the beach, mingle, and gossip. I enjoy that and I’m excited for the competition to begin.
I’m not excited for the other tribes to arrive.
“Hey Lucy,” Adam grins. “What if the Kapu tribe finally decided to show up and win? I would bet on them.”
I roll my eyes sarcastically. “Yeah, right. Everyone knows that they would never do that. Have you ever even seen one of them?”
Adam shakes his head, becoming more serious. “No, but I would like to. They are such a mystery.”
The Kapu tribe is the fourth Hawaiian tribe. They are a complete mystery to all the other tribes though. They never come to the festivals or other tribal events. What we do know about them is that they live primitively like real, hard-core tribes. The Noa and Mahina tribe are of course located next to each other on Lanai. The Kona tribe is from Oahu. But, no one knows which small island the Kapu tribe dwells on. They stay away from the rest of society, even away from the other tribes.
I would love to see them, but that seems too much to ask for.
The judges for the other tribes arrive and sit next to the Mahina judges. The judges are picked by their lack of bias. Hopefully they have chosen judges that will truly judge by their surfing and not by which tribe they are from. Sadly, I feel that is a long shot. Then again, the Kona tribe surfers really are the best and they do always win.
When they sky starts to dim, that’s when people start to arrive. This competition is held during the sun set. I agreed with my mom that this is a beautiful time to watch the waves. Also, the setting sun adds more of a challenge to these experienced surfers. It’s a wonderful time.
Adam straightens up and smiles at me after placing his last flower. “Finished. Good work Lucy. The beach looks amazing.”
I smile back at him, standing up and looking around. “Thanks for helping me Adam.”
“Anytime.” He grins. Then, he looks behind me and his smile drops. I can already tell who it’s going to be.
I turn around and see Sebastian staring at Adam with his dark and fiery gaze.
“Good afternoon, Adam.” He says through a clenched jaw. Adam nods respectively to his prince and then smiles at me.
“See you later Lucy.”
I wave to him even though I really don’t want him to leave me alone with Sebastian at all. I watch his saunter away.
Wow, he is beautiful.
Sebastian clears his throat and I quickly stop staring at Adam. I try to smile at Sebastian. I try to admire him like I admire Adam. Sebastian is taller than Adam. Heck, he is taller than almost everyone. He has lean surfer muscles, but he usually dressed more sophisticated and princely. Except right now he is in a tight wetsuit, holding a large red board with dark red flames that match his auburn hair crawling up the sides and the Mahina symbol on the front.
“Hello Lucy,” He says, stepping closer to me already. I look around. There aren’t very many people on this side of the shore, near the Mahina jungle tree line.
“Hi Sebastian, which wave are you in for the competition?” I ask him in a small voice. His eyes are intimidating. He is so similar to his sister Mila.
“I am in the last wave, during the night surf. I have some time. My sister is in that wave too.” He says, leaning against the palm tree that we are standing near.
“Is the night surf scary?” I ask curiously. I couldn’t imagine surfing at night. It’s hard enough already in the sunlight. What happens if you wipeout and don’t know which was the shore is?
Sebastian shakes his head. “You don’t need to worry about me, Lucy. I have the moonlight to guide me. That is enough. Know this, when I win tonight, I do it for you.”
He looks me intensely and confidently in the eyes and I nod silently, feeling guilty. Before walking away, he runs the back of his hand across my cheek slowly. His rough hand is cold and makes me shiver.
“You are truly the most beautiful of the Mahina tribe…” He says softly, more to himself. Then he walks away.
I stand there alone, breathless. I’m assuming most girls would be swooning at this moment, but I feel nauseous and strangely…angry. Sebastian only wants me as a wife because I am the ‘most beautiful’ of the Mahina tribe. That is not something I want to be wanted for. I feel the emptiness of emotion from his touch. He doesn’t love me like I don’t love him, except he is a more dutiful prince with lustful thoughts. He disgusts me.
For the billionth time I think, why him and why me?
I sigh regrettably and start to walk to where everyone else is. I feel full of nerves. They spark in my veins. I search the faces of the people around quickly. I recognize Hale first, but he doesn’t see me. I stop in my tracks before I go any further. I can’t do this. I can’t walk alone in this crowd. One of the Noa tribe members I have met could speak to me and someone will notice. And then it will be all over for me and everyone else. My mother and other directors have exculpatory reasons for speaking with Noa tribe members, but I don’t. My ears start to ring and my hands are shaking. Without thinking, I turn and walk back the other way with wet eyes. I just want to enjoy this, but I can’t. I’m too afraid of everything. Why does my fear have to control me like it does?
I sniff, trying to get myself together. I look out at the setting sun and the peachy pink-orange sunset. I let it calm me a little. I watch the waves grow larger with the tide. Then, something in the water catches my eye. My curiosity immediately drives me closer to the water line. I walk through the sand, squinting. A glinting light tosses in the surfacing waves that bubble in white foam on the sand. The tide slides back out and I see what was gleaming. I sprint forward before the next wave comes in.
In the sand, I see four glowing runes; red, green, blue, and black. I scoop them up. The water bubbles over my ankles and sinks my feet in the wet sand.
I hold the runes in my hand in shock. Mila had dropped them in the middle of the ocean days ago and now they are in my hand.
My mind can’t comprehend. Loud music starts to blare and an announcer comes on over the speakers, saying that the competition is about to begin.
So, I place the runes in my pocket and I walk back to the chaotic crowd.
I can feel the electricity in the air. The Tribal Surfing Competition has kicked off brilliantly. The energies mix; tense and riled up. Everyone is especially rowdy this year as they cheer for their tribe members entered in the contest. First up are the girls. Mila is one of the top surfers for the Mahina tribe and she doesn’t even practice that often. She just simply craves competition, so she enters every year.
In the crowd of tribal spectators the separation from the Noa and Mahina tribes is clear. The Kona tribe fills the space between. I bet they feel awkward. That would be like third wheeling with two friends who hate each other. Except this isn’t simple, petty hatred. This is life or death. I walk stiffly to my tribe area. I see Alana nearby the chief and his posse. She is the only one of my friends, besides Adam, not entered in the contest. Even Alec is. Alana waves me over and I approach unwillingly. She is the last person I want to be around.
In fact, I would probably stay far away from her radar if it wasn’t for the fact that Alana almost never prophesizes. My mom was the same way, as I’ve heard. Mila tells me that she thinks that the Mahina tribe must have weak prophetess genes, because they never really turn out that good. So, I think it might be somewhat safe to be around Alana as long as she doesn’t start to sense something about me and my disloyalty. She smiles at me with innocence in her eyes and I smile back.
“Has Mila surfed yet?” I ask her, sitting down in the sand next to her.
She shakes her head. “No, not yet. But, she is coming up. Where have you been?”
“Uh…” Freaking out, that’s where I have been. “Just checking up on my mom. It takes a lot to direct this event.”
Alana nods in understanding. I think that like I have a special mentor connection to Lydia, Alana must have a connection with my mom. Maybe more of a connection than I have…
“Up next is Lana from the Noa tribe in black!” The announcer booms over the loud, pumping music. My heart jumps a little when I remember Lana in such detail. I remember her cape of black hair swishing around her face when she was jumping towards me with a knife. I also remember her friendly smile and the laughter she brought to the tribe. So strange, the way people can act and change in different circumstances. It makes me wonder about everyone; how would they act in a matter of life, death, and vengeance. I look at Alana who is tuned out to the world; the complete opposite of a good prophetess. I think if she saw her friend hurt she would scream and run. She would be no help. Maybe that is why instead of hating Lana (although I do have respectful fear), I admire her ways, no matter how brash they are.
Just like…not everyone in the Mahina tribe is bloodthirsty or arrogant…not everyone in the Noa tribe are murderers.
Not even Max.
I feel like running away again. I feel like jumping up and leaving the Noa tribe and the Mahina tribe to fight amongst them because I don’t want any part of it. But, I know it’s much too late for that. I am a part of it.
I need a plan to make myself not a part of it. And I need one quickly.
“So,” Alana nudges me. “I saw you and Sebastian talking.”
I nod at her, while watching Mila slice through waves in the distance. I can see her stiff and determined form do everything with precision and spice.
“How are you two doing?” Alana grins. I decide that I’m going to have to start playing along or people are going to catch on that I actually hate the prince of my own tribe. That is not a good thing.
“It’s good. He said some nice things.” I say in a soft and timid voice, feeling completely sulky but trying not to show it too much.
“Like what? Oh, please tell me.” Alana hounds me with her big eyes. She is always hungry for information. It probably stems from her lack of insight.
“Well, he said that he was going to win for me and that I’m the most beautiful girl in the tribe.” I admit to her. It is a dreamy idea for him to say that to me, but it’s coming from the wrong lips. Alana gives me a crazy look.
“You say that like it’s the most boring thing in the world! That is so fairy-tale like.” She sighs.
She couldn’t be more wrong. This is the opposite of a fairytale relationship. Sebastian and I is a relationship that I dread and don’t want to happen.
Several girls from the other tribes surf their turn on the waves. The first two heats go by quickly. The Mahina girls, besides for Mila, look amateur but beautiful while they race against the other to get the best waves. The Noa girls look strong and confident. But, the Kona girls look at ease and slice through the waves like it is nothing at all. Even with the sun shriveling up and spitting out magnificent colors that start to fade as well.
“Now it’s time for the guys to come out and compete! Heat number one, go to you’re starting point!” The announcer says. The tension is heavier than an elephant between the masculine, testosterone-filled surfers from the three tribes. I remember Jacob from the Tribal Festival; a Kona surfer boy. That festival feels like it was such a long time ago. It’s only really been a month.
Tonight, there is dead air. There is no classic Hawaiian breeze that would keep me calm. The air is full of tension and humidity. I hate it. In fact, I can barely stand it here. I’m sitting with Alana as she blabs out unlimited amounts of gossip. I’m surrounded by nothing but loud noises; music, shouting, cheering…
The Noa tribe is close by and it takes everything I have in me to keep my eyes away from them. I just want to go home. I’m about get up and walk straight to the jeep, day dreaming about being home alone for once, when Alana grabs my arm.
“Lucy, I need to tell you something.” Her eyes look scared and nervous. They dart around. My heart starts to pound.
I scoot closer to her, not wanting anyone to hear just in case it involves things that would be breaking the tribal law. For some reason, I trust Alana even though the knowledge that could pop into her brain could get me exiled.
“What is it?” I whisper. No one is looking at us. Alana’s eyes are wide.
“I have a really bad feeling about tonight. I’m really scared, but I don’t want to tell anyone else just in case I’m wrong. That would be to embarrassing.” She starts to bite her nails. I’m surprised she is being so honest and open with me.
“What feeling do you have?” I ask warily.
“The same feeling I had the night of the tribal festival.” She looks around again, then back at me. Her grip on my arm grows tighter. “I need you to stay for the whole competition tonight in case something happens.”
Oh, no. My nervous go up the charts. Unfortunately, I had been fighting it, but I have the same feeling as her.
“I understand. I will stay.” I tell her regrettably. “What do you think will happen?”
She shakes her head, looking down. “I don’t know. I really don’t. It’s just a feeling. If something bad happens, I think you should be nearby.”
I nod and pat her hand, trying to calm her down. It’s weird because I am definitely not calm right now.
I finally allow myself to look at the Noa tribe. I have motivation now; someone might be in danger tonight. I glance through the crowd of sitting viewers until I recognize someone. It’s Miri, the Noa prophetess. She is wearing a soft pink sundress that looks good against her brown hair. She looks right back at me, making my heart jump. She smiles at me knowingly. I frown at her and look around, so paranoid that someone has seen that. It’s stupid that I’m so worried, I know this.
Someone moves in front of Miri, sitting next to her and blocking her from my view. That person I recognize as well. I see the silver scars on his tan bicep. My eyes follow this up to his face; the blue eyes and smooth hair that I remember. Something strange happens next when I meet eyes with him. My heart sparks but this time, for once, it’s not in fear. I smile at him first and he returns it brilliantly. Now is really when I need to brake away and pretend that I don’t know him, but it’s very hard. He jerks his head over, wanting me to come over. I shake my head violently with wide eyes. I see him almost laugh. I must look terrified. His smile is wide and melts me. I notice the difference between boys like Wesley and boys from my tribe. The spark in his blue eyes holds so much depth that I can’t pinpoint anything specifically.
When I actually don’t come over to where Wesley is, his smile drops. He turns his head back to the waves. I do the same. But, I keep him secretly in my peripherals.
I miss the sun. I miss the color. Now it’s dark and the crickets have come out, creating another loud noise that annoys me as much as the others. Adam and I help the people on standby light the torches and other lighting equipment. The boy’s heats take much longer because many more guys have entered the competition than girls which isn’t surprising. Adam is helping me stab the last tiki torch in the sand, when my mom arrives.
“Adam, we need strong guys to help with lighting the winner’s stage. Come with me.” She then grabs him and takes me away.
I’m alone again, at the edge of the crowd and I don’t know what to do next. I nearly jump out of my skin when someone surprises me by speaking.
“It’s an interesting night, isn’t it?” He says. I turn around quickly, my eyes flashing to the symbol on his neck. Kona tribe, thank goodness. I let out a long breath. No one is nearby anyways; everyone is focused on the surfers. The man is old; he looks like he is a couple years older than my father. He is amused by my reaction and he smiles softly. He is one of those people that have a youth in his personality, I can already tell.
“Yes, it is.” I agree with him honestly.
“This must be very hard for you.” He says while looking me up and down. I become confused.
“What do you mean?” I frown at him.
“It must be hard for both the Noa and the Mahina. One man is dead and still the murderer and the victim’s family sit near each other peacefully and silently. That goes against nature, does it not?” He nods as he looks out at the waves.
I have no idea how he got to this topic, but he has stroked my curiosity.
“Yes,” I say in a daze, not sure why he has chosen to speak with me about this. Does he know that I’m a traitor? Is he joking with me? Is he taunting me? I see no spitefulness in his eyes.
“Of course, it also goes against nature to defy one of the gods as well.”
Now I really don’t know what he is talking about. “What god?” I ask.
He raises an eyebrow at me. “Don’t you know that legend? Well, it isn’t really a legend, it’s an ancient agreement.”
I shake my head no, waiting for him to explain. The moon has begun its rise in the inky night sky, but it doesn’t seem like enough light to fill all the dark spots on the beach tonight. I’m nervous standing here, but I have to know what this man is getting at. The tiki torch close to us flickers red shadows across his weathered face. He doesn’t look at me while he tells the apparent legend come to life.
“Back when the four tribes were first created, their whole purpose was to limit the amount of war between tribes in all of Hawaii. Ku, the god of war, made all the tribes promise not to fight no matter what. That was such a long time ago. Some believe it’s more than a legend, others don’t. I think this is the reason that war hasn’t come upon the tribes yet.”
I widen my eyes in surprise at this story I had never heard before. It has always been known that if war is started between the tribes, it will be completely deadly to both sides, but I had never heard this. It makes sense though. This is why the Mahina and Noa tribe have held back from immediate fighting, they are worried they will upset Ku.
“I had no idea…” I say out loud in a soft voice. “Where did you hear this—”
I turn to look back at the man but just like that he is gone. I’m standing alone again, feeling confused. I walk back to where Alana is and sit next to her. She laughs and me and frowns.
“What’s wrong? You look as if you have just seen a ghost?”
“I feel like I have.” I admit. I look around but the man is nowhere to be seen.
“What happened?” Alana asks, becoming sacred again.
“A man talked to me, I didn’t recognize him, but then he just disappeared.” I tell her. She nods her head.
“Oh! I saw this! That was Hani, the Kona Chief.” She grins ear to ear, glowing from the inside out. Wow, I look at her shocked, Alana actually saw something.
I’m surprised that that interesting man was the chief. Usually they are different than him; more regal, intimidating, and have booming voices. Hani was soft-voiced and intriguing.
“That wraps up the competition ladies and gentlemen! The winner’s for girls and boys will be announced shortly!” I hear over the speakers.
I’m shocked that I missed most of the surfers, but I’ve been distracted. I’m glad that this thing is almost over. Maybe Alana’s feeling was wrong and we can all go home tonight without a hitch. The judges begin talking amongst themselves, comparing numbers and papers. Then, they hand one shiny pink paper to my mother, who runs it up to the winners’ stage. Everyone begins to circle around, huddling uncomfortably close. The surfers stand at the front of the group, waiting hopefully. The announcer reads the paper and then pauses dramatically.
“This year’s female winner of the Tribal Surfing Contest is Lana from the Noa tribe!” He shouts. Cheers erupt along with shocked gasps. The Noa tribe doesn’t usually win. The second and third place winners go to two girls from the Kona tribe, of course. Then, Mila is announced in fourth place. I can tell she is mad about it when she receives her medal instead of a trophy. She stomps over to the Mahina tribe and to where I am standing. I pat her on the shoulder.
Lana boasts herself, smiling devilishly and waving. She is rubbing it in. Mila glares at her with her arms crossed then mumbles to herself.
“I can believe I lost to a disgusting Noa.”
“Now for the male category! In first place we have Sebastian from the Mahina tribe! Congratulations!” The announcer shouts. The Mahina side erupts proudly this time. Sebastian saunters forward. He didn’t lie; Sebastian won just like he said he would. I can admire that about him.
“Yes,” Mila does a fist pump for her brother with a grin on her face. Alana claps gladly. I see Lydia smile approvingly. Mano is stoic as usual, like he saw this whole thing coming.
“In second place is Jacob from the Kona tribe and In third is Lukas from the Noa tribe!”
Jacob walks up happily and accepts his trophy. He reaches out to shake Sebastian’s hand with a smile. Sebastian ignores him dutifully and coldly. Jacob doesn’t seem hurt at all. Lukas, the third place winner, couldn’t be more unhappy. He snatches the trophy he won and storms off with a fire in his step. He shoves Sebastian and Jacob out of his way as he leaves and disappears into the Noa tribe group. The awkward tension grows enormous and swallows everyone up because of his outburst. I can see Sebastian’s anger on his face perfectly. It took everything he had not to do something to Lukas when he pushed him. That nervous, anticipation feeling grows again. Maybe this is what Alana had felt was going to happen? Not too bad, right?
It’s over anyways. The winner’s have been announced and everyone can go home now. Or so I thought. But, of course, I forgot about the celebration held afterwards. It was wishful thinking.
The music is turned back up all the way, banging around inside my ear drums. Mila ignores me, pulling Alec and Alana to the shore where everyone is dancing. I’m looking around for Adam and just like that someone taps me on the shoulder. I turn around and see Adam smiling. A slow song comes on.
“Would you like to dance?” He asks me with a playful grin.
“Yes, of course.” I reply. He takes me into his arms. Surprisingly, Adam is a good dancer. It feels nice putting my arms around him and looking at him. I want to think that he has the best smile, but then I correct myself. He has the best smile in the Mahina tribe.
I knew deep down it would be short lived. Someone cuts Adam off, twice in one night. It’s the same person.
“I apologize.” Adam says instantly. He looks down, unhooks his arms from me and walks off. I stand there, watching him go again. I don’t turn around. So, Sebastian walks around in front of me and without a word, takes me into his arms like Adam just had. I don’t look at him. I feel a small sore sadness in my stomach. Maybe this is just my life from now on.
I feel bad still not saying anything to Sebastian as we dance.
“You really did win for me.” I whisper. The life feels drained out of me. I finally look up at Sebastian. His face is not softened at all. It’s the same tough exterior and fire in his eyes. Thankfully the angry fire that lies beneath the surface isn’t directed at me, I can tell. He nods slowly.
“It’s a pretty trophy.” I say. It is. It’s tall and shiny with a surfer on top and jewels covering it. Sebastian nods again. Sebastian is actually better at dancing than Adam, but dancing with him is way less enjoyable than dancing with Adam. I let out a small and unnoticeable sigh.
Mila is dancing with Alec and when they are near us she catches my eye and winks. I don’t play along. I don’t smile. I’m done.
“Sebastian, I would like to go home now.” I tell him quietly, hoping that he doesn’t get angry.
He nods. Why the heck does he have to be so silent tonight? It’s annoying me. He lets me go and quickly walk away, in any direction away from him. I’m looking at my feet as I kick up sand. I get about two feet before I accidently and stupidly run into someone.
I look up. “Sorry, I—”
It’s Wesley. We stand there looking at each other for two whole moments. He looks confused at my petrified expression. He opens his mouth to talk and then I sprint away.
That was a close one.
I am on a mission to make it to the jeep and go home but then I remember that I can’t go home alone. I have to drive all my brothers home. Great. I turn right on my heel and head back feeling totally worn out. You would be surprised at how difficult it is finding three boys in a crowd. Julian’s tall and lanky form stands out in the crowd so I spot him first. He is standing at the edge of the beach, near the tree line with his back to me. He is talking to another guy from the Mahina tribe. I start walking towards them, away from the noisy crowd. I tap Julian on the shoulder and he waves me away with a clenched jaw.
“Not now, Lucy.” He growls. I frown at him. He and his friend aren’t chatting peacefully. They both look disturbed. “Go back to your friends.”
“What’s wrong?” I ask my brother. He is standing in front of me now and I try to look around him, but his buff friend is standing there.
“Go. Back.” Julian orders. “Now.”
My heart starts to skip a few beats and scamper like a little frightened bunny. I start to back away with a confused frown on my face, holding my hands up in surrender. Sometimes my older brother scares me.
They are hiding something and of course, I’m curious about it, but I’m also scared. I walk away like they told me to. I decide to look for my other two little brothers and it’s more difficult. They are probably running around in the sand with their friends. Then I hear a scream. It’s Alana’s voice. It pierces through all the noise and silences it. I know immediately what Julian had been hiding. I stop in my track and turn around, watching Alana stand in the middle of the dancing crowd. I run to her.
“What’s wrong?” I ask quickly, out of breath. She points a shaky finger ahead of her, towards where Julian was. I run in that direction. Others start to ask what is wrong with Alana but she has gone mute. I see Sebastian standing in the moonlight, his back rigid straight and his dark hair reflecting in the moonlight. Someone is standing across from him. I draw closer, slowly now. A whole crowd has circled them. I push through desperately, knowing what is coming next.
Two flashes of metal. Striking déjà vu and dizzying fear.
“No!” I shout. Then it happens. Sebastian’s long arm slices down in a blur before the other guy can react. I hear screams, one of which is mine and I see the picture I never wanted to see again. Bloody sand. I fight with all my might to get to the front of the group to try and help. I see a panting Sebastian looking down as the man flops at his feet. He clutches the knife in his hand. The guy on the ground is Lukas, the one who got third place in the tournament. I look at his neck and see the Noa tribe symbol.
“Let me through!” I shout. “I can help!”
Some people move out of my way, but others go forward to address the situation. Frustrated tears fill my eyes and then a huge hand grasps my forearm and jerks me back. I look up and see Adam staring at me.
“Adam, let me go, I can save him!” I beg him. His eyes are suddenly cold and sad. He shakes his head. I gasp.
“What…what are you doing?” I panic. I rip out of his grasp, looking at Lukas. The world is going fuzzy around the edges as I panic. Lukas, the stranger I have never talked to I lying on the ground with blood coming out of his mouth as he struggles to breathe. I can help him. I can help. Then, a whole line of people step in front of me. Another hand grabs me and pulls me away.
“No!” I cry.
My mother whispers harshly in my ear. “Stop this right now, Lucy.”
“Lydia!” I shout at her when I see her nearby. “Do something!”
She turns around, meeting my eyes for a moment, and then walks away.
Then, in complete devastation, I watch Lukas’ head loll to the side and the light fade from his angry brown eyes. I whimper, falling limp in my mother’s arms. Her face fills my vision and he has a grimace on her face.
“They got what they deserve Lucy.”
“Look who finally decided to show up.” I growl at my brother, the second. Heir to the Noa tribe. He slams the door violently behind him, glaring at me and anyone who dares to look his way. For all the years of Ren’s life he has never thought it was important enough to show up to tribal meetings. He has always ignored his duties as an Heir.
“Shut up Wesley,” He grumbles half-heartedly. I see red bags underneath his eyes and I know that he has been mourning for his best friend. The mansion is silent while Ren angrily takes a seat as far away from me as possible. He has to sit next to Amile. Even she doesn’t look happy about it.
“Hale, please continue with what you were going to say.” Lio says in a tired chiefly voice.
Hale nods and continues. “Before we get too deep into this conflict with the Mahina tribe I think we should remember the truce between the tribes that Ku had coordinated so long ago—”
“Hale, you and I both know that only half of the whole tribe really believes that the truce is real. The other half believes it’s a legend.” Amile says.
Hale sighs. “Yes, of course I realize that but I think we need to convince them and the other tribe that it is legitimate. I mean, think about it, it has been centuries of peacefulness between the hot-headed tribes. That seems a little too good to be true. I think that the truce is our only hope of surviving war.”
“So who will redeem Lukas’ honor? Will he simply melt into the sand and be forgotten? The Heir of the Mahina tribe struck him down without thought. He deserves the same punishment!” Carrey advises. He, Hale, Damien, and Amile all sit at the end of the table together, as advisors.
“Then it will never end!” My father booms. “Are you all too blind to see that? One by one the whole tribe will die off for gods’ sake!”
I see Carrey lower his head.
“Can someone please explain to me how this even happened?” Ren wines woefully. He has his head in his hands. His sadness seeps into the room. My father looks to me and I sigh.
“During the Tribal Surfing Contest, Lukas had made the Mahina Heir angry so he confronted him individually. He also had some of his Mahina sidekicks stand guard so that no one interrupted them. Lukas lost.” I suddenly don’t feel like talking anymore, not to any of these people. But, unlike my brother, I don’t just walk out when I’m needed most.
“It should have been me.” I hear Max say. He is staring down at the table in a daze. I can see his eyes are red too.
“Don’t say that.” Lana whispers. He shakes his head.
“I’m the one who killed Dustin and started this whole thing. It’s my fault Lukas is dead and it should have been me. I should have turned myself in and ended all of this before it had begun.” He says with spite in his voice.
“More death will not solve anything at all.” My mother says.
“Things would be so much different if we had a healer.” Max says to himself.
There is a pause. Then, our chief speaks.
“For now, we will respect Lukas’ family and go quietly. But, remember, we have not forgiven and we have not forgotten.”
Everyone slowly leaves the mansion, the words sinking inside of them and boiling their insides. Ren leaves again with everyone else. He leaves his own home. This makes me even angrier.
There is only one person that I crave to talk to. I have to see her again.
It hasn’t rained all day which is annoying because the thick clouds overhead make every hour go by slower and the sun has left me. The sun has always kept me going, but now I just feel terrible. I’ve been in my room for two days, avoiding people. These people who I thought I could trust and I thought were on my side; Julian, Adam, and even Lydia. Lydia is the one who surprised me the most.
Now I have to deal with more nightmares and more hauntings of a new face. This list is growing. First Dustin, now Lukas. I could have saved them both. With Dustin, it was completely my fault. With Lukas, the whole entire world was against me. It was like I was fighting through quicksand in slow motion but I was too weak to make it to him in time. My nightmares are the opposite of what happened; I am strong enough to make it to Lukas’ dying body (the victory is delicious and short-lived), but then all I see is Sebastian standing there with a bloody grin. I wake up gagging.
Julian, my own flesh and blood, helped this happen. He made sure that Sebastian got his turn at killing someone from the Noa by protecting him. I can’t even imagine that. Adam, someone that I feel for, held me back. He actually saw me screaming and crying and he still held me back. How could he be so cold?
Lydia, my mentor, turned away from a victim. How is that even physically possible when you have healer instincts like ours? Even if she can’t actually heal him anymore, she could at least do something from a non-magical stand point. Her hate for the Noa tribe must be deeper than I even imagined. It must be deeper for everyone.
I am still conflicted even when I sit in my room contemplating all day and beating myself up about things. Since I don’t feel or understand the hatred they have for the Noa tribe, how can I hate them for what they did? I think about watching Mila being killed by someone from the Kona tribe. If that killer then was executed in punishment that would feel like justice right? This is probably why everyone wanted to watch Lukas die.
That makes me gag also. They didn’t watch him die the way I did. I saw him staring at me while he lies in the sand. I saw blood trickle out of his mouth. I saw his forehead crinkled in anger for loosing to Sebastian. And, just like Dustin I saw the scariest thing you could imagine. That light fading from their eyes.
I blame those who held me back for his death.
Pookie jumps on my lap, snuggling against me and whining. I know that Pookie probably feels my sadness. He has been in my room with me for this whole time anyways. My legs feel stiff. I need to get out but I don’t know where to go. My whole family is down on the beach. They’re all happy and content, spending every evening like the last; on the beach. They won’t be back until very late and I don’t want to be in this house all alone. It’s terrible. But, I’m not ready to face them yet.
Pookie starts to bark, out of the blue. Why does my dog have to be so weird? Running around and barking…leading me into bad situations. This time Pookie runs over to my tall vertical window that looks out over the community. It’s just a dark evening. I walk up to the window to try to see what he is barking at and then I notice a little slip of paper shoved under the crack in the window. I pull it out carefully and read it. Pookie stops barking.
Come to the Noa beach tonight. I want to see you. –Wesley
I nearly choke on the air when I read this. Seriously? He thinks that I’m going to risk my life again to go out there and see him and the other Noa tribe people? That is so beyond dangerous. First of all, I had an excuse for going the first time. I was already in the middle of the Bordering Forest and they invited me. I was curious. Now, this time, it would be completely traitorous. I think of Noni, Mirilla, Lana, Max…I think of Wesley breathtaking smile.
Then, I think of Sebastian. He will probably be at the beach. I also think of Adam and I almost want to cry. I had been avoiding thinking about him a lot but now it all comes rushing inside of me. I really liked Adam, I admit it. I liked the way that he is smart and brave, the way he went to Himeni Island with Mila and I. Now I know that he is like Sebastian and Juliana and all those other cold-hearted boys. I was so wrong about him. It’s true that you don’t really know someone until you see how they react in certain situations.
Where would I rather be tonight? With the Mahina tribe or the Noa tribe? Let’s not answer that question Lucy. I think to myself. Pookie looks at me expectantly. I sigh in defeat.
This is way too dangerous. How much time do I have? Looking down at my clock I see that I have four hours to be back in my room.
Worth a shot.
This time, Pookie is staying home. I don’t trust him not to lead me to trouble anymore.
The walk to the Noa beach is treacherous at night, especially without Pookie. I wish that I had someone to call to cover for me but I don’t think I can trust anyone with my secret. Each step I take into the forest, my feet crunch the leaves and I feel like the noise echoes. I have to be especially quiet. How would I explain being in the middle of the forest this late in the day to anyone who sees me? I feel my chest constricting at the thought of being caught.
“Just relax,” I tell myself in a whisper.
I didn’t remember the Noa beach being this far away. It feels like I’m never going to get there. I really wish I would have brought Pookie now. The sun has set, I’m all alone. I remember the mysterious and maybe deadly bite that Wesley got from being out here. What if that happens to me? I don’t know how to heal myself. Once again, Lydia has neglected certain aspects of the healer to teach me.
I’m not going to get hurt. I almost never get hurt. I realize now that it’s because I never did anything dangerous, risky, or rule-breaking. Now all three of those words happen to be my middle name. Everything is different.
I walk slowly and timidly, but eventually I sneak through the Bordering forest without encountering man or beast.
I scream, tripping over a branch and falling backwards onto the dirt. I look up to see Lana raising an eyebrow at me.
“Seriously?” She rolls her eyes. I let out a huge breath, trying to calm my heart.
“I didn’t hear you at all!” I exclaim to her. I thought I was all alone in the forest. Shows how good I am at being stealthy. Surprisingly, Lana puts her hand out and helps me up. I see she has a bow and arrow in her other hand.
“What are you doing out here?” I ask her, keeping my voice low again.
She sighs. “Well, I was hunting but when you screamed your head off everything near by scampered away.”
I blush. “Uh, sorry. Can I help?”
“Can you shoot a bow and arrow?” She asks me with a knowing smile. I shake my head.
“Here.” She hands me hers. “I’ll teach you.”
I take the bow. It’s sturdy and black as night. Then she hands me an arrow. It’s also flat black but the tip is blood red. Thankfully, there isn’t actually blood on it yet.
Lana adjusts my posture into an uncomfortable position and makes me hold the arrow against the bow tight.
“I just realized something.” Lana says. “You are the perfect practice hunter. You can shoot something and then go and heal it and it’s like nothing ever happened. Why haven’t you done this before?”
I look at her wide-eyed. “We don’t hunt in the Mahina tribe. Why don’t you just go and by food at the market?”
She laughs. “We do. Hunting is just for fun; it’s in our blood. Next time, you are coming with me on the hunting trips. Since we aren’t going to eat the animals, you can heal them and everything will be okay!”
I nod with a smile, accidently letting my guard down for a second. The arrow whisks ahead and plunges head first into the tree in front of me.
“Nice.” Lana nods and we laugh.
“Come on,” She takes the bow back from me and walks ahead. “There is a bonfire on the beach tonight. I’m guessing that you were invited.”
I follow after her gladly, looking back at the arrow in the tree with a smile. As we approach the Noa beach through the trees, I hear music. It’s sweet flute music that carries on the wind and waves, melting perfectly into the sound of people laughing. There are no flute players in the Mahina tribe…
I take off my shoes like everyone else. The sand is cool and refreshing on my tired feet. The Noa tribe is much smaller than the Mahina tribe. Either that or they don’t all come to these bonfires like the Mahina tribe does. It’s a good thing too because the Noa beach is smaller. I like it better. The trees surround it like a protective canopy. The sun and moon both rise and set right above the ocean in the middle of the beach.
“Lucy, you’re here again!” Someone says in a surprised voice. I look and see that it’s Max. He stands next to Lana. I notice that they are always together.
“Yes, um, Wesley invited me.” I say with a blush. Max nods with a grin, looking at Lana who rolls her eyes.
“Of course he did. Here, come with us.” Max takes my hand and pulls me behind him.
“Lucy!” Noni calls. I recognize her lovely voice and smile at her. She walks towards me quickly and hugs me. It’s amazing how all these people are accepting me so easily. It confuses me but I don’t argue I just go with it happily. “Wesley told me that he hoped you would come. I hoped you would come too. He is here somewhere…”
“We will find him Noni,” Max tells her. She pats him lovingly on his shoulder. Noni can barely reach his shoulder. Max is so tall and Noni is so petite. I can tell that Wesley gets all of his height from his father. Back where Noni was I see a flock of Hawaiian girls. All of them are similar in sporty yet feminine stature with classic shiny black Hawaiian hair and glowing skin. They chat quietly with each other. I remember how they served everyone dinner the last time I was here. Noni said they were her chiefess prodigies.
Max and Lana bring me to the large bonfire in the middle of the sandy beach. It’s surrounded by Noa tribe teenagers. Weirdly, I’m more nervous around them than I am with the chief of the tribe.
“Move,” Lana growls once and several people step aside. Max, Lana, and I move closer to the fire. It’s grand and the flames reach above my head and into the night sky. The Mahina tribe never has fires this big.
“Wow,” I gleam.
“Hi, Lucy. What took you so long to get here?” Mirilla appears next to me and I jump a little and she smiles like she, of course, saw that coming.
“I taught her how to shoot a bow and arrow in the woods…sort of. She has a knack for it. Next time she is on my team when we go out. Oh, and Wesley too.” Lana says.
“In your dreams Lana.” Max scoffs. “Wesley is way too much of an advantage. You guys are the two best; you can’t be on the same team!”
“But Lucy is also a disadvantage because she is completely clueless on stealth. She is so loud!” Lana argues. Max rolls his eyes.
I blush, realizing that it is probably true. While I was trying to quietly sneak through the jungle it probably sounded like an elephant parade…including me talking to myself and freaking out because I’m sneaking to the enemy tribe.
The problem is that it doesn’t feel wrong being here. It’s doesn’t feel traitorous or evil or betraying at all. These people feel like friends.
“You always get the better team!” Max complains. Lana smiles at his anger.
“It’s not my fault that you are a terrible aim. Maybe you can try hand to hand combat with a wild boar. You would probably too better at that.” Lana smirks but Max nods thoughtfully.
“Yeah, you’re right maybe I should try that…” Max looks up, thinking and Lana shoves him.
“Shut up you idiot.” She says with a laugh. Miri and I share a look. Obviously the two of us aren’t much of hunters. She grabs my hand gently.
“Come on, there is some food over here.” She tells me. I follow her to a wooden cabana shack on the beach I hadn’t noticed yet. There is loads of fresh fruit just waiting to be eaten. Lots of it is gone, but I get a plate of pineapple and mango slices. Miri and I sit in the sand together while sucking on the juicy fruit. The firelight and moonlight create a beautiful atmosphere.
“It’s so beautiful out here tonight.” I say out loud. Miri nods in agreement.
“So what made you decide to come again?” Miri looks at me with interested eyes that are sweet and round. Pieces of her soft brown hair fall into her face but she doesn’t care.
“Wesley invited me and…” My cheeks heat up but Miri has a way of pulling the truth out of you with her eyes and her aura. “I guess I couldn’t stay away.”
“Would you have come if he didn’t invite you?” She asks curiously, sticking a piece of pineapple in her mouth.
I look down at the sand. “Um…do you know? Because I don’t.”
Miri laughs heartily. It’s a musical and contagious laugh, unlike others I’ve heard.
“Yes, I do know. Yes, you would have come. But, I don’t know when or why or how.” She replies, becoming thoughtful again.
“I’m so scared of being here and doing…this. But, I still do it. I don’t understand myself…I don’t understand the world.” I admit with a small laugh that fades away regrettably.
Miri touches my arm softly. I look at her, putting so more fruit in my mouth. Her eyes look sorry for me.
“Listen Lucy, can I give you some advice?” She starts.
“Of course.” I reply. There is no one else I don’t think who gives better advice than someone who can see the future.
“I think that the reason you are so conflicted is because you are special. Everyone else in your tribe isn’t like you. They would never go out on a limb to see new things like this,” She motions at the lively Noa shore. “And you feel like your wrong. You aren’t wrong. You are curious and you are adventurous and that isn’t a bad thing.”
I smile at her, my heart gleaming. Her words bring me instant confidence.
“Wow, thank you Miri.” I’m about to say something else when Miri looks at me knowingly.
“Wesley is coming. I’ll see you later.” She leaves with a wink. She glides when she walks, like a goddess. Its several minutes of me sitting in the sand, listening to the music and the waves alone before Wesley comes, so I know that Miri saw Wesley in the future instead of seeing him physically walking in this direction. I feel peaceful after Miri talking with me.
“You actually came.” I hear Wesley say above me. I look up and he is staring at me in surprise. I blush, standing up quickly.
“I’m sorry. I just…” I don’t have an excuse for coming. I came because he wanted me to.
He laughs, stepping closer. “Whoa, don’t apologize.”
I smile. “Sorry, uh…I mean, I like it here.”
“Good.” Wesley says. He looks around and then looks back at me. “Wait here.”
I stand there awkwardly, watching him jog through the sand. He returns with a ukulele and a grin that makes me blush even more.
I follow him closely. If I’m being honest, I would be very scared in the Noa crowd if it weren’t for the people I have been with; Max, Lana, Miri, and Wesley. With Wesley it’s the best though because I can tell he will protect me. He already has a few times. Hopefully I won’t do anything to screw that up because I know that I’m definitely going to need all the protection I can get in these coming times. I can feel it.
Wesley smells like the sun. It sounds weird. Really weird, but its’ true. He smells like toasted coconuts and sun-kissed skin. Somehow he makes it extremely manly.
He leads me away from everyone else and then I see a small fire already burning. It’s a gentle romantic little flame, not a bonfire like down at the other end of the beach. It’s also closer to the ocean. This area is a tiny little slice of the beach. The trees kiss the shore and the shore kisses the ocean with only a few meters in between. I sit next to Wesley by the fire and it feels like a little secret oasis even though it’s not that different from anything else.
I’m completely surprised that Wesley set this up. He invited me just for this. I can’t believe my eyes when I look at Wesley. He is gauging my reaction intently and I let out a little laugh. The grin I get in response from him makes the whole night even better. I think of Adam and I compare. The comparison is weak. It’s obvious to me who wins.
“Can I play for you?” He asks me, holding up the ukulele. I nod encouragingly. The only person who has ever played the ukulele for me before was my father. He hasn’t done that in six years, but who is keeping track?
Wesley plays slowly and flawlessly. The magical thrum of the music is hypnotizing and relaxing. He plays Slow dancing in the sand, but he doesn’t sing. He lets the music do it all. The symphony of Hawaii plays with him; the breeze, the waves, the crickets, and the fire. It’s one of the best moments I’ve ever had. I watch Wesley as he plays.
His golden skin reflects in the fire. His features are softened by the moving shadows and he looks calm. I notice again the scars all over him. There is one on his right cheek shaped in one long slash. It goes from his high cheek bone to his nose. I sadden inside thinking about how that must have happened to him. Wesley finishes his song and I smile at him.
“Thank you,” I say quietly. My shyness around him must be beyond obvious which is embarrassing.
My curiosity is too much in that moment.
“Wesley, can I ask you something?” I ask him. He nods yes. “How did you get all those scars?”
He frowns, shaking his head and looking down at his arms which have them. He is silent for a while and I regret asking him.
“I’m sorry; you don’t have to tell me…” I say reluctantly but he gives me a knowing look and a side smile.
“I’m not proud of the truth, Lucy. I’m a fighter. That’s how I’ve been since I was born. I guess I just a have special talent for…getting into trouble.” He says with a sad smile.
“I know how you feel.” We both laugh at that. “Why weren’t you healed?”
He looks at me, surprised. “There wasn’t anyone to heal me. It’s been three generations since there was a healer in the Noa tribe.”
I gasp, sitting up straight and looking at him with horror.
“Oh my…” The thought of a tribe with no healer is terrible for me. All of those people in helpless pain… “Can I look at your scars?”
Wesley nods and then pulls his t-shirt off. I suck in a breath and move closer to him. On his back are huge cuts and wounds that have barely healed up. I run my hand over his un-smooth skin. It’s unlike anything I have ever seen. Each mark shows a story of pain and failure. I touch one long red, jagged scar on his shoulder and then images flash before my opened eyes.
Wesley and someone who looks similar to him in age and face are standing across from each other. Wesley has fire in his eyes and the other guy has ice. Both look angry and red to pounce. Lio watches with crossed arms and a stoic face from the side of their invisible arena. Noni has tears in her eyes, standing next to her husband. Both boys have knives. They circle each other.
“Why does this have to happen?” I hear Noni say in my mind.
“One of them has to be the Heir. This is the only way. The first one to draw blood will succeed the other.” Lio says.
The boy strikes like a cobra at Wesley, but he moves out of the way and tackles his opponent. They struggle on the ground, throwing punches. Wesley tries to wrestle the knife out of the other guys hand but gets elbowed in the face. His nose breaks and blood starts to come out. Wesley is mad now. He grips his knife and slices him on the stomach. Blood comes out but not a lot. His opponent cringes and cries out in angry pain. Wesley stands up and starts to walk away, since he drew first blood he has won. But, the other guy jumps up and attacks Wesley. He unmercifully strikes Wesley from behind. The knife digs into his skin and rips it open. Wesley falls to his knees in pain, screaming. Several other Noa tribe men come and hold the other guy back. Wesley does not fight back after that. The pain is not helped by a healer. He watches his blood drip down his arm.
The images end, but the pain I felt through him lingers. It’s emotional and physical. I choke on all of it, coughing on tears I couldn’t hold in. Wesley turns around to look at me softly. He pulls me into his arms and I fall into him. He holds me close to his warm skin, petting my hair as I cry softly.
“Don’t cry Lucy, its okay.” He whispers.
“I saw what happened when I touched your scar. You were fighting someone for the right to be the Heir.” I explain through sniffles. It feels so good to be curled up with him.
“That was my brother Ren.” Wesley says in a dark voice. He must be reliving things too. “I didn’t know healers could see things like that.”
“Neither did I.”
It’s really dark now. The fire and the waves is the only noise while I take comfort from Wesley.
“I could heal them.” I suggest to Wesley as an afterthought. “I can make all your scars go away.”
His arms tighten around me when I try to get up. “No, I don’t want them gone. They are reminders.”
I relax again, happy. Secretly, I prefer him with scars even though they have caused both of us pain.
Wesley is so much different from other tribal boys. He isn’t perfect. He has flaws all over his body. And I love them more than I love a perfect face. It has more reality to it. It has more stories and it has more personality.
Wesley and I spend more time talking by the fire. But, all good things have to come to an end I realize. I have a short time limit.
“We should go back,” Wesley says with regret in his voice. I stand up and help Wesley put out the fire. He puts his shirt back on. I secretly feel sad about that.
We are walking back to the group of people by the bonfire when someone steps in our path. He had come from the nearby trees. It’s Ren, Wesley’s brother. Ren has scars like Wesley, but less of them. They share the same intense and beautiful face, but Ren’s head is shaved short and dyed a punkish platinum. He has a cut above his eye that goes through his eyebrow. He is grimacing at Wesley and I. He looks at his brother. I step closer to Wesley, scared of this man.
“What is she doing here?” Ren spits his words, looking at me in disgust.
“She is here because I want her to be.” Wesley states, challenging him with his eyes. Wesley is completely stiff.
“She doesn’t deserve to be here. Get that thing away from our family.” Ren growls. My stomach churns.
“You talk like you are in charge of my actions.” Wesley responds with menace in his voice.
“This little devil,” Ren stomps forward towards me. I step behind Wesley in fear. “Is a spy. I can tell.”
“Ren I’m warning you right now,” Wesley starts but his brother ignores him.
“Stop cowering you little twig,” Ren reaches behind Wesley and grabs my arm with a viper grip. I whimper in shock. He jerks me away.
Wesley rears back and punches Ren with his large fist right between his viscous eyes. The next second, Ren has shut up. He is lying in the sand. I gasp and cover my mouth in surprise. Ren is knocked out.
Wesley looks at me. “I warned him.”
I drop down by Ren and touch his face. He is going to have two black eyes. Quickly, I heal him while he is still passed out. He opens his eyes dazedly for a few moments, blinking then he jumps up. He glares at me, then at Wesley. He starts to back away with out a word, just hateful grimaces. He disappears again and Wesley helps me up.
“Ignore him,” Wesley tells me and then guides me back to the bonfire.
Max, Lana, and Miri circle us once we are closer. They see my shocked expression.
“What happened?” Max asks curiously.
Wesley shakes his head. “Nothing. Just Ren being himself.”
“Oh…” All three friends say in union. Apparently that explains everything.
“I should probably be going back before someone notices I’m gone.” I say. I don’t really want to leave, but I’m scared of the consequences of that. All four of the people around me nod in agreement.
“I’ll take you back again.” Wesley says. I say goodbye to Max, Lana, and Miri and then follow Wesley down the beach.
When we get into the thick of the jungle the darkness surrounds me and I get scared. I walk closer to Wesley. He grabs my hand. We walk in silence. The lights and tall, manicured palm trees of the Mahina community show through the jungle so Wesley stops. I turn to look at him.
“Thank you for protecting me from Ren. I’m sorry that I made him mad.”
Wesley shakes his head. “It’s not your fault. Ren is always mad at the world, especially now. Lukas was his best friend.”
My heart feels like its being pressed down on in a very painful way. I look away, ashamed that my soon to be fiancé, of all people, is the one who caused him that hurt. Wesley lifts my chin up to look at him so that I’m not wallowing anymore.
“One more thing before you go, how did you get that scar on your face?” I ask him.
“Why don’t you find out for yourself…” Wesley takes my hand and places it on his cheek where the scar is. The images start to come.
Wesley, Lana, Max, and others are spread out through the deep forest, up by the mountains. Wesley spots a mountain goat in the distance and tightens his bow, notching the arrow silently. His muscles flex and his heart starts to pick up speed. Across from the jungle, he sees movement in the trees. It rustles the leaves, making noise. The mountain goat looks around and starts to move ahead. Wesley is about to let his arrow fly or else he will miss the goat. Then, a swish of air and Wesley sees an arrow coming right for his face. He turns his head just in time so that the arrow only slices against his cheek. A waterfall of blood flows down his face. The stinging is terrible. Wesley cups his hand to his face and looks across from where the rustling was. He sees no one. The goat is gone. The images end.
I frown at Wesley. “Someone shot at you? Who was it?”
He shakes his head, grinning. “Another mystery of mine. Who ever it was didn’t want me to shoot that goat.”
“Hmm,” I smile. “You are just covered in stories. Literally.”
“You are welcome to any of them, any time.” Wesley says with a smile while stepping closer.
We stare at each other for a moment. All of thoughts are rushing towards Wesley’s lips and then I remember who I am.
“Goodnight,” I whisper and then I turn around and leave him staring after me.
I’ve been successful at avoiding people I don’t want to see all day, until I am shopping for groceries for my mother at the market. I keep my head down, searching the aisles, and avoiding strangers’ eyes. It’s cloudy again today, leaving me in another nasty mood. My feet drag with each step, feeling unmotivated. I spot Alana in the store too and she sees me as well. She walks quickly to me, looking nervous as usual.
“Lucy,” She breathes, stopping next to me and looking me over. “Are you okay?”
I nod, but don’t say anything. I put a can of peanut butter in my hand held basket. I’m going to need that later.
“Listen, I’m sorry I couldn’t be more help with, you know…I’m so mad at myself, I should have seen something, and it could have saved him.” She shakes her head but I grab her arm and her gaze.
“No Alana, you are the only one on that whole beach from the Mahina tribe who wanted to help. Thank you for that.” I tell her seriously. She blushes and hands me a bag of my favorite chips that I put in my basket. She must have known that I was going to buy those. We move through the store together.
“Where have you been for the past four days? I haven’t seen you.” Alana says, sounding like a worried mother. I smile at her, but it fades.
“I was home. Honestly, I’m having a hard time dealing with things.” I sigh while grabbing two cartons of ice-cream; rocky road for me and vanilla for my little brother. Alana nods in understanding. She grabs some ice-cream for herself.
“I know what it’s like. Oh—” Alana stops in the middle of the store and stares straight ahead like a deer in head lights. I frown at her.
She shakes her head and then turns her wide eyes on me. Her face falls into shock.
“What? You are scaring me.” I whisper to her nervously. “What did you see?”
She bites her lip. “Maybe I shouldn’t tell you, it’s supposed to be a surprise.”
“A good surprise or a bad surprise?” I ask her. She laughs, winking at me.
“A good one.”
“Thank goodness. I could go for some good surprises instead of bad ones.” I comment. “Now I’m just going to go back home and eat this ice-cream. Sound like a good plan? Care to join me?”
Alana frowns at me. “You are going to the feast tonight, right?”
“What feast?” I ask her incredulously, surprised that I haven’t heard about it yet. Alana looks surprised that I haven’t also.
She looks embarrassed when she talks about it. “The tribe is throwing a celebratory feast for Sebastian tonight since he avenged the tribes honor…”
I feel terribly sick at the thought of this. I imagine Lukas’ parents or Ren, his best friend, shedding tears for him while my tribe celebrates his death. He didn’t even deserve it; he wasn’t the one who killed Dustin anyways. Why is everyone so hungry for any death they can come by?
“I would never go to that.” I say violently, turning away from Alana. The anger I feel is new for me. I don’t usually have something to be completely angry about. This is rage.
“I think you might want to.” Alana says softly and suggestively.
“Let me guess, my surprise that you saw takes place at the feast?” I sigh. She nods. We both know that I am too curious not to attend just for that reason. Plus, I’m craving something good to come to me instead of bad luck, regret, and guilt.
Not to mention danger and fear, they are friends of mine too.
“Please tell me you will be there.” I plead with my eyes. She smiles.
“Of course, I’ll meet you at your house at eight?” We both agree on that time and then we check out with our sad, unhealthy groceries. I feel like if Alana is there, things might not be so bad. I’m beyond surprised that she of all people is the one that would be different. She is the prodigy to my mother. Her family is one of the most royal in the tribe. She is concerned strongly with rules and respect. But, she and I didn’t want Lukas to die while everyone else did. That means she is the only other one like me that I know of. I realize now that after that one moment where we mourned together for the death of Lukas, Alana is now my close friend.
Speaking of friends, I haven’t seen Mila in days. She is usually at my house every other day, gossiping and speaking of new adventures. Where has she been?
I’m about to leave the store when someone else shows up. This person is not someone that I want to see. Far from it.
“Lucy, I’ve been looking all over for you!” I jump when I hear Adam’s voice behind me. His eyes look desperate as he makes his way toward me. I grimace at him, and then storm off. I shove through the doors and let them close behind me, cutting Adam off. My blood boils at just the thought of him. I stomp down the boardwalk with my grocery bags towards my jeep parked at the end of the beach.
“Lucy, wait!” I hear Adam call behind me. Is he serious? Does he really think that I want to talk to him? I painfully flash back to when he gripped my arm and wouldn’t let go. He watched with stony eyes as I screamed and cried. He didn’t care. He was vicious like the others.
Unfortunately, he is faster than me. He catches up quickly. Locals look at us strangely as he makes a scene chasing and calling after me. With every time he shouts my name, he makes me madder. The sun comes out from behind the clouds and shines hot on my skin. This gives me more confidence. I feel the un-caring mood being lifted from me. I reach the Jeep just as Adam grabs me on the shoulder. I whip around and push his hand away.
“What do you want?” I growl at him. I look at his eyes. They aren’t stony or un-caring; they are back to the usual light that they hold. He doesn’t look brave or charming right now, he just looks hurt. Great, now he is making me feel bad.
“I just want to talk to you.” He says, looking at me with a pleading expression. I sigh and put my bags inside the Jeep. He starts to take one from me to help but I give him the cold shoulder.
“I don’t need help.” I say quietly. He backs away silently. Once I’m done I turn around. “What?”
“I know that you probably hate me, but I swear I was just following orders. They told me to keep you back. I listened because it was too dangerous for you to go near them. You are a girl; you shouldn’t have to be involved with fights.” He says, looking at me with soft eyes that start to aggravate me.
“I wasn’t walking into a fight, Adam, that boy was dying! I was the only one who could help him and you held me back! I thought you were different.” I say the last sentence without as much venom. I look down at the ground. I parked the Jeep up on a hill where the grass starts to mix with the sand.
“If I’m the one who has to remind you then so be it.” Adam’s voice grows cold. I look up at his steely eyes. “You are from the Mahina tribe. That boy was from the Noa tribe. It’s not your job to help them or even interact with them. Did you forget?”
My heart starts to beat quickly when I realize that this might look traitorous. I look up at Adam, scared. I search his eyes, would he tell on me? Would he get me exiled over this? When he sees my fear he softens his expression and shakes his head.
“It’s okay Lucy, I know you have healer instincts and you didn’t mean to seem like you were about to betray your tribe…” I gulp. “I just need you to forgive me. I don’t want us to become enemies.”
I sigh, knowing that Adam thinks he was right and I think I was right.
“I’ll think about it.” Then I get in the Jeep and slam the door behind me without looking at Adam again.
When I get home my mother is waiting for me, brimming with happiness. I set the groceries on the table. She had given me a long list. She ignores them though and comes over to me.
“What are you so happy about?” I ask her with a laugh.
She grins. “Tonight is the feast for Sebastian and I thought I would help you get ready. I also got you something.”
She walks over to the table and holds up a dress. I gasp, but also look at her funny. Why is she so excited about this celebration and why is she so worried about what I’m going to wear? Usually she doesn’t care that much, except for special occasions.
“It’s beautiful.” I admit. The dress is a silky purple maxi dress with a gold belt and a loose halter shape around the neck. It looks like a goddess dress. I love it. My mother knows me well.
She grins and brings it closer to me, holding it against my body and nodding in approval. Then she hands it to me and turns me around. She pushes me to my bed room.
“The feast is in two hours. Go get ready. It’s going to be a great night!” She cheers. I do as she says. Although I hate the idea of this festival, I do love the dress and I do love a good surprise. So, I start getting ready. As I prep my skin and hair I start to day-dream about my good surprise that is going to happen tonight. If I was engaging in really wishful thinking I would hope for the tribes to lay away their anger and agree in peace and no more death. Or maybe, the rule for not interacting with the Noa tribe will be lifted. Or my future engagement to Sebastian will be forgotten. Maybe Lydia will get her healer powers back so that I don’t have to hold the whole burden of the tribe. Maybe the rest of the runes will show up…
I realize that I never told Mila or Adam or anyone that the first four runes that we found magically appeared on the beach. I had forgotten with everything else that I have to think about. I’m sitting in front of my mirror with my beauty tools and I see that they are still lying on my dresser. I scoop them up in my hand and look at them. I remember how they all symbolize one god; Ku, Pele, Lono, and Kanaola. Who I ever attempt to summon them, just in case the legend is living?
Probably not, I’m not that brave. The real question is when and how will I tell Mila that I’ve been keeping them a secret from her. I remember how weird she was about them. What if she finds them in my room? I get an idea and pick up my cell phone. Mateo’s number is in there. Being the healer, almost everyone has my number. I call him nervously. He answers quickly.
“Hello?” His magically voice rings in my ears.
“Mateo, its Lucy. I have a question for you, are you busy?” I ask him. I feel scared talking to him for some reason.
“Of course, what is it?”
“Its about the runes from Himeni Island. You told that story around the fire a few weeks ago. I was wondering if you knew how exactly to summon a god once you have the stones.” I pause. “I’m just curious.”
Mateo is silent for a few moments, and then he starts to talk again.
“Yes, I remember my father talking about it. You take the rune, you can only summon one god at a time by the way, and you smash it under your foot. Apparently a big puff of smoke and some show of power will occur like thunder or lightening or anything else. Then, immediately after, the god will appear in human form to walk the earth. He or she can leave whenever they want, but cannot stay for forever. Their time is very limited. On earth, they have only a few powers. But, they should still be feared. They can control things on earth that we can’t even imagine.” I can hear the wonder in Mateo’s voice and I take in all the information.
“Interesting, thank you Mateo. That’s all I needed to know.”
I hang up the phone and stare all the shiny runes. I pick up the red one and turn it over in my hand, weighing it in my palm and knocking it on the wood. It doesn’t sound hollow and doesn’t feel fragile at all. You wouldn’t be able to smash it open with you foot. I start to doubt that they are even the real runes of the legend. Maybe they are just decoys (although they are brilliant jewels). I place the runes in a small pottery bowl that I remember making long ago and I go back to what I was doing before.
I begin getting more and more excited as I get ready. When was the last time something lucky happened to me? I’m not sure. The sun starts to set behind the thick clouds. I watch the sunset from my tall window as I do my hair. I’m amazed at the unique colors that the sky can create while the sun is setting. Tonight is a peachy orange with a few stripes of purple; a shade of purple that matches my dress. I pin my hair half up tonight and left my natural tousled blonde ruffles be themselves. I pick out my favorite golden sandals to match the belt on my dress and then I’m ready. Soon after, Mila and Alana arrive. My mother probably invited them. When I hear Mila’s loud voice, I become a little panicked. I hide the runes in my drawer.
“Hello, beautiful!” Mila burst dramatically into my room. Alana follows behind her and shuts the door after them.
“Hello, stranger.” I joke back at her. “Where have you been?”
Mila sighs and rolls her eyes. She slouches on my bed. “Well, I was going on a soul-searching solo mission for the runes. Sadly, they have disappeared. I looked all along the shore at Himeni Island, using Adam’s boat of course, thinking that maybe the tide brought them back in but no luck. What can I really do anyways? I can’t search the bottom of the whole ocean.”
Alana frowns, looking back and forth between us. “Uh, what in the world are you guys talking about?”
Mila takes a second glance at her, remembering that she had kept our little adventure a secret from her. She bites her lip.
“Oops, forgot that you didn’t know. Here’s the truth; Lucy, Adam and I went to Himeni Island to look for the legendary runes that Mateo talked about. We found four of them, but the gods must hate me because on our way back I accidently dropped them into the ocean.” Mila admits all in one minute. She leaves out most details, already bored with the idea.
“What? Why didn’t you tell me?” Alana gasps. She looks hurt and I feel bad. I look at Mila.
“We went at night, past curfew and without asking. We thought you would tell.” Mila says bluntly, shrugging. “Who cares, it’s over now anyways.”
“Sorry, Alana. It was scarier than it was fun, I can assure you that.” I try to console her. She smiles at me.
“You won’t tell will you?” Mila inquires her.
Alana gawks at her. “Are you kidding? You guys think that I would rat out my two best friends?”
Mila and I breathe a sigh of relief.
“You girls look beautiful. I had no idea this feast was such a fancy thing. My mother got me this dress.” I tell them next, switching the topic.
Alana has on a baby blue short dress that is soft and elegant. It matches a blue tropical flower in her dark hair. Mila is wearing a strapless golden-bronze dress that sparkles and pops like fireworks. She rocks it.
“I brought you this,” Alana brings me a purple-pink tropical flower and tucks it behind my left ear. “it’s the perfect color.”
“Wow, thank you.” I look in the mirror and touch the silky soft petals. It matches the sunset as well. Tonight feels all planned out. “Where is the feast being held?”
“You’re not going to believe this. It’s being held in the hall. They are taking this celebration and running with it. Tonight is going to be a big night.” Alana gushes.
My stomach churns a little but I decide that I want to feel good tonight. Maybe they are hosting this feast to announce something to the tribe.
“The whole tribe is coming right?” I ask them. It seems like everyone knows about this except for me. I know that the hall is a huge enough building that it can and has been done.
Mila nods her head. Alana looks excited.
“Let’s go ladies,” My mom walks into the room. She is glowing as she looks at me. My mom is wearing a long red evening dress that looks perfect on her. Mila, Alana, and I follow everyone out of the house and to the celebration. The hall is just a walking distance from all the royal homes on the hill. These royals are arriving fashionably late, just our style.
When we enter the gleaming hall, it’s already full of people. They have really done the place up, Mahina style. The walls and floors look polished and the chandeliers are sparkling brightly. Three huge and long dinning tables are set up for the whole tribe elegantly. There is a stage at the end of the ballroom-like space. Before the feast even begins, socializing of course is taking place. I see everyone I know at the feast and others that I don’t know or barely know. Some of the people walking around holding trays and glasses must be the caterers. They look like locals and hired staff from off Lanai, our island. I’m taking in this whole thing, feeling like a princess as royals come up to talk to me. I see Lydia approaching me with her warm smile and immediately respond with my own smile automatically. Until I remember, just like with Adam, that she is different than I thought. She sees me look away from her and she frowns. I was standing alone when she comes up to me. No one is looking at us. Lydia is wearing a modest pale-purple dress. It’s almost the same color as mine and I can’t ignore that we are similar in most things, except for the most important thing.
“I think that pale purple should be the official color of healers.” Lydia says, speaking like a close friend of mine with a genuine smile.
“I prefer bright blue or the golden color of the sun, actually.” I say quietly without looking at her directly. She sighs and pats me on the shoulder. Her hands are always comforting and healing of course, but I feel like pulling away this time even though I don’t.
“Lucy, I know what is going on inside of you right now and I can tell you that I went through it as well. Soon you will realize that the most important things a healer can be are loyal and obedient.” Lydia is whispering in my ear. She walks past me then and starts talking to others. I clench a fist and let breath out, letting go of the anger I feel.
Can my good surprise come yet?
I go ahead and head to my table with the highest royals, already done talking to people after that. I think about what Lydia insinuated. She said that she went through what I’m going through. Currently, I’m going through wanting to help others and be friends with other outside of the Mahina tribe. Did that happen to her too? And if she then became solely loyal and obedient to her own tribe, does that mean that I will snap out of it and become that character too? It almost gives me hope that I’m not different than everyone else. I’m just a healer, and this is what happens to each and every one of us. Then, I think of what Mirilla said and the way she said it with confidence. She said that I am special and different. Unfortunately, I trust her words more than Lydia even though I kind of don’t want to. Maybe it’s because Miri has special insight or maybe it’s because Lydia is not the person I thought she was. A few weeks ago things would be a lot different.
Before I sit down, Alana catches me with a grin. I smile back at her.
“You want to talk?” She asks. I nod, truly meaning it. She is someone that I would want to talk to anytime, I’ve realized. We go over to a corner where a cute Hawaiian man is holding a tray of fruit kabobs. Alana and I both take one and she smiles at me. She seems to be in a happy and talkative mood.
“So, tell me, are you excited about things between you and Sebastian? How is your relationship moving on in your perspective?” She asks me excitedly.
I gawk at her and then I remember that a few days ago I hardly told her anything. Now we share secrets. I look around and pull Alan behind a few tall men and hide in the corner. She frowns at me.
“Alana, I’m telling this because I trust you know. I don’t love Sebastian at all. We barely even talk. This arranged marriage is nothing to me. I’m sorry you didn’t know, but now you do.” I tell her quietly, embarrassed. Her eyes go huge.
“Oh my god Lucy, I’ve made a huge mistake. I need to tell you something—” She is cut off when Mano booms his voice into a microphone that reverberates around the room.
“Take your seats, my tribe, the feasting is about to begin!” He declares.
Alana grips my arm desperately but stutters with her words.
“It’s okay,” I try to calm her. “You can tell me later.”
My mom is so good at finding me and she pushes through the men we were hiding behind. She pulls us both back to the table, but Alana sits at the end whereas I sit at the front. We are separated and Alana’s scared expression makes me really nervous.
Can my good surprise please come now?
Courses of expensive and traditional food are brought to everyone on literal silver platters. Dishes including Poi, Laulau, Kalua pig and other exotic and delectable foods.
I eat my full, feeling content. I can’t feel completely content though because Sebastian and the chief family are sitting at the table with us. I’m probably just paranoid but it seems like everyone nearby keeps glancing at me with secret smiles. Maybe it has to do with my good surprise. With this in mind I smile throughout the whole dinner, feeling the attention on me.
As the wine and other alcohol being served starts to sink in, the celebration goes from elegant to wild. Dancing starts in the open spaces as well as cheering and circles of clapping and laughing people. Music plays upbeat and quickly, encouraging the whole thing. Flutes, guitars, drums, and other instruments create an exotic feel. I can tell that my mother added her creative and mysterious flare to the direction of this feast. She plans almost every event. She did it the full-out Mahina tribal way. I can see her glowing in pride from where she sits across from me. She winks at me and I laugh. The lights are turned down lower. The whole hall becomes a ballroom turned upside down into a joyous, lively celebration. Sebastian stands regally and proudly in the middle of it all. He isn’t one to act wild or goofy, just proud and stoic.
Mila is shaking it on the dance floor and catches my eyes. She grins wickedly and runs over to where I’m sitting and watching. She grabs me and lifts me from the table. I laugh and follow her. The music appeals to me. My mom must have set up some secret smoke machines because I now realize that the whole floor is covered in wafting fog. My feet cut through it, making it flow around my ankles.
“You ready to dance?” Mila asks me with a grin. Her fluorescent green eyes strike me and I start to sink into them. A hot daze overtakes me. I feel dizzy and tired for a moment. I feel Mila’s hand on mine and clutch her back, feeling like I’m about to fall backwards into the thick mist. My eyes flutter closed and then I open them quickly, feeling awake again suddenly. I open them and I look at a pair of blue eyes instead of green ones.
“Wesley?” I gasp. He smiles at me seductively and I follow him in a daze to the dance floor. He pulls me into his heavy arms and I feel like I’m in a whole new world under his protection. I shake my head, still feeling a little dizzy.
“You can’t be here, you…you don’t belong here.” I manage to say. I can barely speak coherently when he smiles like that. It’s a soft and emotion-ful smile. Those blue eyes…
Wesley pulls me closer and I rest my head on his shoulder. He whispers in my ear and smoky mist flows all around us, secluding us in a small little space.
“I belong anywhere that you are.” He says. My head flows through images of Adam and Sebastian and the emotions that they give me wash over my skin. Then the emotions and the images of Wesley flow through me and it’s like a bull against two little ants. He could stop them like little bugs in my mind. I nearly pass out when I realize that the reason I have gone to the Noa tribe every time is because of him. He has protected me. He doesn’t have a cold heart.
“What is happening?” I ask myself more than him.
“We are happening, Lucy. Don’t ignore it.” Wesley whispers.
“Earth to Lucy! Are you going to come dance with me or not?” Mila shouts in my face. I jump out of the vision I was having or day-dream or whatever the heck that was and I stare at Mila. Her hand is still on my arm and her vibrant green eyes are still on me. I look around. There is no Wesley. He wasn’t actually here. I feel sick and I shake my head and walk away from Mila. I stumble through the crowd of people and then I look down and see there were never any smoke machines.
What just happened?
I make it to the girl’s bathroom feeling woozy. At first I think the shiny and pristine bathroom is empty. I’m thankful that it blocks out some of the loud noise from the feasting and celebrating crowd. I splash some cold water on my face and breathe in deeply through my nose. I can’t even comprehend what happened just now. One moment I was looking at Mila and then the next I was dancing with Wesley. Then it was over, just like that. His face flashes in front of me again and it brings with it a flame that starts to melt at my heart. I wish that the vision was real and that he really was there with me, saying those things, no matter how dangerous it is.
I look at myself in the mirror, getting a good grip on reality. Strangely, I feel calmed by the vision rather than freaked out by it. It leaves me with a good feeling. That must have been my good surprise that Alana saw; a fantasy moment with a boy who has impacted me strangely. My heart sinks when I realize that if Alana saw me having that vision then she must know that I like someone from the Noa tribe. A.k.a. I’m a betrayer. I grip the sink tightly. I feel dizzy again.
“How are you this evening darling?” I hear a lovely feminine voice behind me. I turn around and see her leaning against the wall with a steamy fog rolling inside the bathroom behind her. I back up against the sink.
“Oh no, this isn’t real again.” I say in a shaky voice.
She shrugs. “It is in some ways.”
This woman is truly beautiful and elegant. She is definitely Hawaiian and is wearing a rose-petal pink evening gown that hugs her curves. Her dark brown hair is long and soft-looking. It fluffs around her heart-shaped face.
“Who are you?” I ask her.
“I’m Laka.” She smiles and I choke on the air I’m breathing in for a moment.
Laka is the Hawaiian goddess of love and hula.
“Is this another vision?” I ask her. I look around at all the fog circling us.
“I gave you the vision with Wesley to try and make you realize something. This is just me and you having a little…chat.” She grins.
My knees grow weak. “If I insulted you in any way please believe that I didn’t mean it.” I start to bow before her, but she walks to me and touches my shoulder softly. She has the moving grace of a hula dance with every gesture she makes.
“Stand tall Lucy because I have no anger towards you.” She says sweetly. I nod and stand, feeling still completely scared and confused.
“If this is about me visiting the Noa tribe…I’m sorry for not seeking revenge.” I look down at the mist that is crawling up the skirt of my dress.
“No Lucy, I am here because I have known my share of seeking revenge and reaching it. The outcome is never good. These tribes are walking towards a bad fate and I think that you are a very important girl in this situation. The key is…love, of course.” She looks at me, watching my face.
“I—I don’t understand…” I look around, searching for an answer that isn’t there. She smiles knowingly and nods her head.
“I know, but you will…”
She backs away, sinking into the fog until all I can see is her glowing brown eyes as they flutter sweetly and then disappear.
I snap back into the real world to the sound of someone in the stall, gagging and throwing up.
The mist is gone. Laka is gone. My sanity feels like it is completely gone. I shake my head, blinking for a while to make sure things aren’t going to happen again.
I walk to the stall that someone is in and knock.
“Are you okay?” I ask.
I hear a sniffle and she responds, “Yes, I’m fine.”
“I’m a healer, I can help you.” I tell her. My mind begins to fully clear. After some shuffling, she opens the door. This girl is beautiful as well. She is tall and slender with soft brown hair and sharp eyes. Her skin looks sickly and cold though. She looks embarrassed.
“Are you sick?” I ask her. She nods.
“I’m allergic to a lot of things; there must have been something in the food.” She says with a sigh.
She walks to the sink to wash out her mouth. I feel like I need to help so I hold her hair back as she does it. She spits over and over again. I can see tear marks on her cheeks.
“I’m okay now, I don’t need to be healed.” She tells me in a surprisingly cold voice.
“Why were you crying?” I ask her gently.
Her eyes snap to me, challenging me. I feel bad for asking. I look around nervously, making sure that no more fog is sneaking in. Everything is fog-free.
“None of your business.” She replies. She throws her hair back, looking in the mirror approvingly and then she walks out. I watch her silvery-blue sequined dress swish behind her. The sparkling dress reminds me of icicles.
I sigh and realize that I should probably go back to the feast before someone starts to come looking for me, a.k.a. my mom.
I was so right that as soon as I step outside the bathroom, my mom is there. I’m surprised by the hall’s sudden change. No one is dancing anymore and the music has stopped. The lights are raised and brightened again. Mano and Sebastian are standing on the stage, looking at me. In fact the whole ballroom is looking at me. I gulp and speak to my mom out of the side of my mouth.
“Mom, what is happening?” I ask her. She smiles.
“You will see.” She responds mysteriously.
Mano speaks into the microphone. “You all know that tonight’s feast and celebration is in honor of my son Sebastian. He now has an announcement to make. This is why we have asked Lucy to come and join him on stage.”
Oh, goddess. Oh, no. No, no, no…
My mom pushes me forward strongly before whispering harshly in my ear. “Remember, you have no option but to say yes. Unless you never wish to see your family or friends again.”
The words stab deep into my heart.
This can’t be happening, not now. Please not now.
I walk on numb legs through the groups of people watching only me, whispering between each other. I look at Sebastian’s animalistic eyes. I look at Mano’s threatening gaze. I look at Alana’s pained eyes. I look at Mila’s excited smile. I keep walking, feeling like the floor might just crumble beneath my feet and it would be better than what is about to happen. I walk onto the stage. I gulp and face my fate with weak knees.
“You look beautiful.” I hear Sebastian say where no one else can hear. I blush, but not because I’m flattered. I blush in suppressed anger. He is only saying that because it’s his role. I see the lack of real emotion in his eyes. I clench my fists again.
Mano passes his son the microphone. Everyone waits in silence. I wait for my doom to come crashing down on my head.
“My tribe,” Sebastian speaks to the crowd. “Today I announce my love and devotion to this woman, our faithful healer, in your presence and I ask her here in front of you…”
Sebastian lowers down on one knee. He takes my shaking, pale hand roughly, with no tenderness. He looks at me and speaks like a royal prince.
“Will you be my wife, Lucy Anolani?”
Gasps followed with cheers erupt in the hall before I even respond. They know what I will say, what I have to say, and what I should want to say. My mother was right, it’s either say yes, or defy the wishes of the chief and his family. The price of defying them is exile.
I nod my head like a robot ever so slightly. Sebastian grins wickedly and pulls me into a fake hug that I hate. Tears stream down my face, but I don’t sob.
Everyone thinks these are happy tears. Only a few people know they are tears of despair. Lydia and Alana. Lydia turns away once again; I watch her walk away into the crowd. Alana pinches her lips together, consoling me with her caring eyes from where she sits. I break out of Sebastian’s prison-bar arms. Thankfully, he leads me down off the stage where I can escape. I walk right around the crowd of celebrating, heart-less tribe members. I ignore my mom following after me and Alana as well. As soon as I’m out the doors of the hall, I run. I run away from something that is, in truth, un-escapable.
The tears I shed are bitter and salty.