Aidan gazed at the hilltops before us, but he didn’t see anything significant up there. “What was it?”
I began to respond, “It was… There it is again!” I exclaimed as a hooded silhouette peeked out from the mountainous crag once more! This was no false alarm like the stupid goat’s knocking or a supposed coincidence like the near plane crash- someone was definitely watching us! I had seen this mysterious character before in the security footage of my serial murder investigation, and the culprit turned out to be Wade! My heart pounded as panic started to set into my chest! As much as I wanted to confront that scoundrel, I couldn’t do it with this lousy wand making me so woefully unprepared! Actually, a weaponry disadvantage would have been the best case scenario in this instance- if we contended with a powerful magian when we were ill-equipped and alone, we most likely wouldn’t live long enough to tell Agent Hearne what a terrible idea this was! “He’s here! He’s here!” I couldn’t muster anything else to communicate to Aidan other than to ensure he got the message through repetition!
“Who is?” Aidan whipped his head upwards to investigate what caused such urgency in my voice. I dug into my pocket to grab my cellphone because if we couldn’t match our opponent’s skills, I at least wanted to document our downfall! Or unexpected victory, whatever ended up happening! “Who was it?” Aidan asked me.
“Was? He is W…!” In the exact moment that I put my device in the optimal position to take a picture, the object of my operation had gone out of sight again! “Okay, fine, it was Wade!”
Aidan’s eyes widened upon hearing this development. “Wade? Are you sure?”
I asserted, “Of course I am!” I mulled it over a bit, and then I recanted my statement, “Well, I didn’t see his face, but who else would wear a hoodie in this tropical environment?” Doubt flickered across Aidan’s visage, so I told him, “A person was definitely there, and if they’re concealing themselves, then obviously they’re up to no good!”
Aidan relented, “You’re right, that’s fishy! Let’s go check it out!”
We drew out our wands (Not that it would’ve benefited us much, but any potential adversary wouldn’t have known that!), and we crept up towards the rocky slope. I prayed that our sudden presence would startle Wade enough that we could gain a split second advantage when we ambushed him since it would be potentially disastrous if he blitzed us, and I willed our substandard sticks to uncharacteristically pull through for us in this endeavor! We heard some pebbles crunching on the other side, so we took cover behind the tall terrain. The sound of movement grew louder and louder, and I readied myself to display a show of force! When we sensed someone within our range, we emerged from our hiding spots, and…
“Oh, for crying out loud!” I hollered once my adrenaline petered down. That same goat from last night emerged and bleated at us!
“This is what you were seeing?” Aidan very heavily questioned me.
I clicked my tongue in frustration. “Of course not! This was definitely a person, and… they can definitely hear us talking now!” We got serious again, but when we made another bid to traverse the grounds, the goat nipped at me! “Leave us alone!” I hissed. It stuck its tongue out at me, and I ranted, “Quit it! We need to see what’s around the corner! We’re trying to help you, you little sh-!”
All of a sudden, a slender man whose tawny skin bore a citrine undertone as the sun glowed off it popped up over the horizon! His narrow, almond eyes gazed at us apologetically, but prior to any remorse getting uttered, I noted that he wore a colorful polo shirt, and while his long, pulled back hair somewhat resembled a hood, nothing about his appearance indicated that he had been the man that I espied a minute ago! To me, the suspect remained at large, but if Wade had, indeed, been lurking in the ridge where this gentleman had just passed through, wouldn’t he have eliminated a potential witness? I mean, I was glad the guy was alright, but why did Wade spare him?
“E kala mai!” he relayed to us. When Aidan and I gave him blank stares in return, he translated his words, “Sorry! I always bring an animal with me for protection when I go out here, and Anela got a little defensive!”
“Is it very dangerous out here?” I gazed towards the direction where I spotted the obscure person, and I wondered if I had been incorrect in assuming that only Wade would don that sort of getup! Quite abruptly, a mosquito flew towards my forehead, and my initial instinct was that a threat had invaded my space, and I battled it with more veracity than necessary!
The gentleman assured us, “Nothing lethal really. The menehune show up every once in a while, but they’re more annoying than dangerous… They’re mischievous elves.” Once Aidan and I bore expressions of comprehension, he went on, “They’re very industrious too though! I almost let them fix your aqueduct, but I didn’t realize people were living next door to me, so I thought I’d be a good neighbor and do the repair for you.”
Aidan graciously regarded him, “Thank you! I left my toolbox back there ‘cause we thought… Hey! How did you know we were your neighbors?”
“Who else would be out here right now?” the gentleman reasoned. “The Palekanas sold their egg farm a year ago shortly after the Pomaikai family died, so I’ve been myself out here up ‘til recently. Though, to be honest, I may end up selling my place too if Lake Aopua’a goes the same route as its sister…”
“What sister?” I hadn’t gotten the impression that any other water source existed around this area, and I grew curious as to why no one was using this for their hydration supply.
The gentleman illuminated us, “Lake Ana Wai was inside of a cave down the road from us. All three farms used to source it, but then one day, it was empty! The Palekanas decided to retire early and let their birds fly off before jetsetting to the Kohala coast- I wish I could’ve followed suit! But it’s not like I could do a simple spell to allow my herds to fly off like that! … Anyways, in case I decide to stay, my name’s Lopaka.”
He extended his hand, and we shook it, but I couldn’t move on from this subject as hastily as he did! Total evaporation of cleared up why the Hekekias weren’t using a closer wellspring, but he moved on from that story as though it was totally normal for a large pond to just disappear like that! I decided to speedily introduce ourselves and then get to the bottom of this! “I’m Sophia, and this is Kennedy- nice to meet you! So, how in the heck did Lake Ana Wai vanish so fast?”
“The Fays made it go away!” Lopaka claimed. “As soon as the Pomaikais employed those degenerates, things were never the same! I warned them against using Fay labor, but did they listen? No! They doomed us all!” Aidan and I didn’t react to his slander. I’ve experienced individuals allege that they were criminals constantly causing trouble, but I hadn’t gotten wind of anyone asservating that Fay Folks had an apocalyptic nature! Oh sure, a few of them did assist with a plot to destroy humankind, but that was only because Wade had tricked them into believing in an all Fay utopia following this cataclysm! Some Fays resorted to lawbreaking due to their frequent poverty, but most were fairly ordinary citizens simply striving to make amends for their misdeeds! I couldn’t comprehend how Lopaka had reached such a drastic conclusion, but I didn’t want to cause a rift between someone who we shared a border with! Plus, he seemed like a skillful resource for mechanical stuff, which may have come in handy for us since I doubted that Aidan or I could have mended whatever was wrong with the aqueduct, but he didn’t struggle with it at all! Probably, he didn’t say how long the fixing took! “For a while there, I was worried that the Fays I saw hanging around Lani Noni had taken hold of its ownership, but they were probably scavenging the joint! Thank goodness I have regular humans next to me!”
“Uhh… They’re still there!” Aidan hesitantly informed him. “We actually work for them!”
Lopaka’s demeanor changed completely upon receiving that pronouncement! “You’re supporting their… Well, see you around!” He summoned his goat to tail him back towards his ranch, and Anela had to shoot us one last dirty glance before departing!
I chided Aidan, “Why did you have to tell him that? Now he hates us!”
“He would’ve found out eventually!” Aidan pointed out, which I had to admit was probably true. He went on, “Besides, him disliking us was fairly inevitable ‘cause my sister’s goblins will eventually pull off some kind of prank on his cows!” I tittered at his quip, but really, I don’t think he was completely kidding! “Come on! Let’s try and convince the Hekekias to hose off all this sweat before it sets in and leaves yellow stains on our outfits! I know they’re not really our clothes, but still! We gotta wear them for-.”
“Shouldn’t we double check the mountains and clear the proximity first?” I brought up. I lingered by the hilltop and eyed the territory uneasily. I recognized that Lopaka had exited the vicinity without an incident, but that didn’t convince me that Wade or any other sinister personage hadn’t stuck around these quarters!
Aidan vied with that proposition, “If any shady business was happening out there, I’m pretty certain that Lopaka would have forewarned us! You know, prior to his knowledge of our affiliation with Fay Folks! At the very minimum, I would be willing to bet that Anela would have gone after them and not us!”
His logic seemed solid, but my stomach tied into knots with the mere consideration of leaving this scene without studying it thoroughly! If Wade was up to something out here, we could have potentially walked away from vital evidence! “What if somebody shifty is here and we miss out on the chance to prevent them from acting out their evil deeds?”
“What if we do confront them and our crappy wands crap out on us?” Aidan countered.
“I…” Didn’t I come up with that same conclusion minutes ago? I couldn’t admit it to him, but I wasn’t prepared to give up on this concept either! “Yes, we aren’t equipped to get into any altercations at the present, but maybe we should report what I witnessed to the local police…” I pulled out my cellphone again and nearly dialed the number when a cognition instantaneously struck me… “Oh, but what would I say to them? Even if a person is lurking around these parts, that doesn’t signify that they’ve broken any laws! Unless they made that lake disappear…”
Aidan agreed, “And if it turns out that this subject has a warrant, then they’d probably have plenty of time to flee prior to any squad cars getting to this location!” Aidan caught sight of my crestfallen mood, so he motioned as though he was intending to give me a hug, but then he beheld something in ahead of us that swayed his focus! “Hey! That bird is stealing the tools! Put that down!” The hawk flew from our locale preceding either of us getting close enough to stop its pilfering!
Kaleo probed, “Precisely what did the bird steal?”
“It was a yellow plastic gizmo with, like, a small screen or something…” Aidan described for him.
“Was it a stud finder?” Kaleo guessed. Aidan shrugged.
Kalani remarked, “I suppose I was wrong about you two being mechanically inclined! Although, you did do a great job fixing the aqueduct!”
I opened my mouth to correct her on that incorrect assessment, and Aidan nudged me to keep quiet. I had an extreme aversion to lying, but there didn’t appear to be a lot of validity in the premise of informing them that Lopaka helped us when he wasn’t likely to ever repeat that favor! As we joined in the planting efforts, I conversed, “I can understand why our neighbor brings a pet with him when he goes out there! It would’ve been nice to have a critter with us so it could have fended off that hawk!”
“You spoke to the neighbor?” Kaleo petitioned me, which made me cringe! Seconds ago, I came up with the judgment that Lopaka shouldn’t get introduced into our chat, and yet that’s what I did anyway! “Did he spew out a bunch of nasty comments about us?”
“Not about you, but he wasn’t too fond of the previous farmhands that worked here…” I opted to mimic my boyfriend and exercise the truth since they were bound to discover this eventually. I would’ve felt worse if they fell under the false notion of his friendliness to their kind and attempted to bond with him! It saddened me to espy the hurt on their faces over this prejudice though, so I strove to offer a smidgen of consolation to them, “I wouldn’t worry about his opinions! He doesn’t seem totally stable to me! Seriously, he believes that Fays have the ability to make an entire lake vanish!” Immediately following that sentence, Kaleo dropped the shovel in his hands, and the pair of them looked totally fretful! It was apparent that I had spooked them, but why? “That’s not even possible… Is it?”