“Who’s there?” Mother fretfully wondered. She glanced around at her obsequious Fays, and they all shrugged in bafflement. She turned to us in our treetop enclosure and grilled us, “Is that one of your friends?”
“No,” I told her truthfully. “There were only two other people out there with us, and technically, they’re your friends!”
Mother didn’t seem very reassured by my pronouncement of a possible ally being the perpetrator of the bushes’ shaking. She pointed her wand at the shrubs and depravedly ordered, “Show yourself or I’ll shoot!” No one emerged, so she decreed, “Fine! You leave me no choice!” She ejected a green light at the foliage, and after the entire plant got enveloped with the jinx, it disappeared into the air, which made Mother smirk. “There! No one can survive that! Whoever is in there is dead as a doornail! She returned her focus to us… for a second! She gazed back at the site of the spell with an expression of uncertainty. “Someone go check!”
Nobody volunteered. After a bout of anxious silence, Adrian piped up, “I don’t wanna meet the guy that can survive a hex like that!”
“Or it could have been a girl! Just saying…” Minna spouted indignantly.
“Do you know something about this?” Mother stationed her wand in a threatening manner towards Minna.
Minna coolly responded, “No. But even if I did, you don’t scare me with that thing! I’m dead as a doornail! By the way, what does that mean? Are doornails ever really alive?”
Merripen asked Minna, “Aren’t you afraid of leaving Earth without making up for your sins?”
“I don’t care if I don’t go to Heaven,” Minna answered. “I don’t deserve to go there for all of the trouble I’ve caused!”
“But you’re mentally ill- that’s not a crime!” Aidan contended.
Minna enlightened him, “It is if you purposely don’t take your medication! I have a degree in psychology, I knew the effect my actions would cause and did it anyway! I made people miserable for completely selfish reasons, that’s why I became a Fay Folk! Actually, I’m kinda surprised I didn’t go straight to Hell! What good have I done for anyone?”
Aidan strove to come up with something, “Aw, that’s not true! You… Sometimes, you… I… Well…”
“Enough of this nonsense!” Mother redirected the conversation to her original purpose. “Jera, you’re clearly hiding from your duties, so your cowardice has merited you with this unpleasant task. Go check who I killed.” There was no reply, so Mother repeated her command, “Jera, go check!” When she discerned no movement from him, she shrieked, “Jera! How dare you disobey me!”
“He isn’t here,” Merripen reported.
Mother’s face contorted into confusion. “He isn’t? Oh no! You don’t think…?” All of the lackeys grew worried about this grim possibility, and Mother bit her lip in guilt. “I don’t know why he wouldn’t have said something to me though! … Will somebody please check?”
I volunteered, “I’ll do it!” I didn’t believe she would actually release me for this venture, but hey, it was worth a shot! I suppose I should have been apprehensive about getting hurt too, but the rustling started after we got trapped, so I sort of figured whatever it was had shown up out of a fidelity to us. I hoped that this ally was still alive, unless it wasn’t an ally! If Wade had stashed himself there, then her lethal activity would have done the entire planet a gigantic favor…
“Yeah, right!” Mother acted disdainfully to my request. “Did I give you the impression that I’m easily fooled?”
“Yes!” I grinned mischievously. “Especially after we heard your bought into the ploy of a manipulative convict, Selene!”
The Fays all gasped at my audacity, and Mother looked a bit shocked to get called by her actual name! She quickly collected herself, and then she barked, “Hama! I’m picking you to do this, and if you don’t, I’ll-!”
Hama begrudgingly agreed, “Okay, okay! But if something happens to me, I-!”
“Nothing is gonna happen to you!” Mother asserted. Hama appeared skeptical, but he heeded her wishes. He tiptoed to the bush, slowly moved a branch aside, and… WHACK! Something slapped him hard enough that he flew across the clearing and into a nearby tree! “Oh, I guess I was wrong!” Mother casually wrote that incident off.
“What’d you see, Hama?” Adrian queried to Hama, who hadn’t moved or breathed since the violent impact. Mother rolled her eyes in a fashion that clearly indicated that she was about to call him a moron, but prior to her opportunity to get that harsh phrasing out, the ground beneath Hama opened up! A vortex that echoed a ghoulish scream sucked his body in! Once the atmosphere shifted to its normal self, Adrian pondered, “Wait, did he die?”
“Moron!” Mother muttered without any attempt to shield her mean opinion from the object of her scorn. Preceding Adrian getting a chance to respond to that though, Mother snapped, “Go see what did that!”
All of the remaining Fays vehemently protested, and Merripen frightfully remarked, “Absolutely not! I want to make up for my wrongdoings before I meet my maker!”
Mother let out a frustrated howl, and then she growled, “Fine! I’ll do it, you big babies!” All of the Fays scooted back in anticipation of the negative consequences of this decision, and I could tell that everyone expected Mother to imperil herself into the shrubbery, but instead, she brandished her wand once more. Her cronies ogled at her in disbelief, so she justified her behavior, “What? I need to conserve my energy to deal with our enemies, including these do-gooders!”
“Is do-gooder supposed to be an insult?” I inquired cheekily.
“Keep talking, it’ll be your last words!” Mother replied in an exasperatedly irate tone. She grew even more agitated by my beam of pride at a successful jab at her, and she faltered in getting her mind off of that as she swiveled towards the greenery. She concentrated on the effect she meant to produce, and after a minute, the plant got lifted away from its roots…
All of the apocalyptic worshippers fled as the floor shook tremendously! Something large ran in our direction, but not a soul could see what it was! Mother seemed at a loss on how to proceed, and she took too long to do something- whatever it was picked Mother up and flung her to the farmhouse in the distance!
Once the vanishment of the threat had sunk in, Minna posed to us, “So, are we saved or not?”
“By the time we bust out of this cage, Wade probably will have found the Island of Death! He’ll be in the Ploutonion faster than we can say rescue!” Aidan lamented.
“Rescue!” Minna exclaimed. “Is he there now?”
Aidan shook his head but chose not to verbally acknowledge her antics. He alternatively opted to bring up, “Even if we do free ourselves will we even be safe? Is… whatever that was on our side or simply against all humans in its territory?”
I morosely held up my wand and dismally articulated, “If that… thing-a-ma-bob has left, Mother will most likely revisit this scene and finish the job. Or she croaked, and since we didn’t have a single friendly person witness this event, nobody knows we’re here! We’ll rot inside of this cage all ‘cause we can’t get these stupid wands to just freakin’ get us out of here!” Right after I spoke, magic came out of my wand, and the bottom of the structure disappeared! We fell onto the dirt, and I puzzled, “How did I do that?”
“Yay! We’re saved!” Minna rejoiced. All of a sudden, a salamander almost as tall as the trees appeared in front of us! It looked like a gentle orange with black stripes reptile whose yellow eyes stared at us curiously, but its sheer size was enough to cause an urgent alarm in us! “Or maybe not! Do you eat humans?”
“Why are you talking to it like it can understand you?” Aidan pressed Minna. “It’s a wild animal!”
In a firm but affable male’s voice, the creature spoke to us, “I don’t know about wild! I can act civilly when I need to!”
I gasped, “Holy smokes! It can talk!”
“He can, and yet he isn’t!” Minna observed. “Are you gonna answer my question?’
“I’m not going to eat you,” he assured us. “You two are the only humans I can trust.” He gestured towards Aidan and me, and then he addressed Minna, “I’m leery about you because these two don’t have full confidence in you.”
Minna looked offended, so I apologized for that hurtful honesty, “Sorry!” Minna was miffed, but I didn’t feel that assuaging her was the biggest priority at this juncture! I turned to the creature and asked, “What do you want with us then?”
The creature answered, “I want you to stop those two kanaka ino’s from destroying Kāne’s great lands!”
“Oh! You’re the moe of Lake Ana Wai, aren’t you?” Aidan realized.
“Correct,” he confirmed, “but it’s pronounced mo’o.”
Aidan requested, “Listen, I have trouble saying that word for some reason. Can I just call you Moe?”
The creature made a somewhat vexed visage, but he assented, “Fine.”
“Thank you for your assistance in this quest!” I cordially regarded Moe in an attempt to stay in his good graces. “We’re honored to have gained your trust! I take it humans have not been very kind to you!”
“Not lately!” Moe grumbled. “For years, human beings respected me, and I respected them for taking care of the earth! Then, one day, a selfish man took my flowers! They were merely a small bunch, but I got them at Pele’s wedding! It was special, I never get any prizes like that! Maybe it didn’t mean much to Kaleo, but it meant a lot to me!”
I reacted in shock, “Kaleo? Kaleo stole your gift?”
Moe affirmed, “Yes! Apparently, he wanted to punish the Pomaikais for hiring Fay Folks by upsetting me and causing destruction to the region! He thought he and his wife could atone for that atrocity by taking care of the farm, but I’m still furious! I mean, he stole my flowers! Who does that?”
“We can get them back for you,” Aidan offered. “We gotta go to the Island of Death anyways to prevent those doomsdayers from getting cured and, well, doomsdaying us!”
“If you can obtain them throughout the course of your work, I would appreciate it!” Moe pleasantly vocalized. “But your first priority should be to thwart this catastrophe!”
I pledged to him, “You can count on us! We’re ready!”
Minna echoed that sentiment, “Yeah!” She reached for her wand, but then she recalled, “Hmm…. Can you give me a sec to remember how to do hand-to-hand combat?”
Aidan slapped his forehead in frustration, and Moe forewarned her, “We don’t have time for that! We must get going immediately!” Minna frowned as we all got up to prepare for this undertaking. Aidan and I exuded pure confidence to Moe, and Moe proudly smiled at us! It was a gratifying occasion, but once a considerable stretch had elapsed, we all started to grimace. Moe eventually broached us, “So… Where are we going?”
“You don’t know where the Island of Death is?” Aidan catechized.
“If I did, do you imagine I’d leave my flowers there?” Moe riposted, which Aidan couldn’t argue with.
I recommended, “It’s somewhere off the coast of Kai Lawai’a. We can head there and just search for the two world-ending pricks! Whether trekking Moku Oka Make or taking a leak, we’ll detain them and bar them from continuing this travesty!”
Everyone concurred with my logic, and Moe lowered himself down for us. “Climb on!” It felt strange mounting a giant lizard, but after we were on him, it didn’t feel that different from riding a horse. Once we positioned ourselves on his back, he stood up, which caused Minna to fall. He annoyedly placed her on him again, and as we took off towards the east, I speculated about the orange hues in sky, wondering if its presence was purely a coincidence or if we were already too late to halt the collapse of society as we knew it…