Adrift: Chapter Sixteen

Day Eighteen: 1,384 words (22,643 total.)

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Omoachel awoke from the beach. Her mouth was dry and she shivered. But at least she had a blanket. She didn't know where she got it. Possibly in a stupor she grabbed it from somewhere? Her cheek felt swollen. Perhaps from falling? She did not know, but she did know she needed some water and perhaps some bread. 

Turning her head to the side, she saw a familiar shape. It couldn't be. Beside her sat a tortoise made of sand. It was messy and didn't have beautiful shells and flowers, but it stood. She wanted to cry, but didn't. This made her happy. It made her feel a happiness she hadn't felt since she was a child. But was this a sign from the spirits? She had to consult someone, but first she needed to clean herself.

She stood up and wrapped the blanket...wait, it was a jacket around herself. Omoachel stumbled her way back to the plateau. As she ascended, she questioned why no one was out today and then it hit her. Talau was leaving today. She probably hadn't much time. Her heart raced. No. It is good that she's leaving.

Omo stood at the top of the plateau. Her stomach was queasy and she fell down to her knees. Sitting in silence, memories came to her. Talau was all she had after her mother died: her only family left. She welled up. Raising her head to the sky, she could not tell the time because the gray clouds obscured the sun. Was it already too late? She stood up, sending her stomach twisting and turning into knots and rushed down the western pathway, up the north and over the bridge to the Mainland. 

Before she crossed the bridge, an arm pulled her back. She attempted to keep moving, but the grip was too strong. She tripped the fell to the ground. Her stomach could handle no more and she got sick as she leaned over the edge of the bridge.

"Pathetic." the male voice said.

When she finished, she tried to stand up again. Soon it would be too late. This may be her last chance to see her aunt. But as she tried to stand, the same arm pushed her back down. She panted.

"What's the point? You didn't see her when she was here. What's the difference when she's gone?"

Omoachel didn't want to give up. She crawled on the splintery wood to get to the beach of the Mainland. It was only a stone's throw away. She could make it. But as she tried, a strong forced pressed into her back causing her to collapse. She dug her nails into the wood to break free, but it was no use.

"You're not going."

Omoachel mumbled, "I need to tell her something."

He kicked her, "What did you say?"

She spoke louder, "I need to tell my aunt something!"

He laughed, "My dear, Omo. You have no use for her. The spirits will give her what she deserves."

Omoachel knew what she deserved. Talau deserved a better life than these islanders could offer and that was exactly what she would get. Still, it hurt knowing she may never see her again. But days would go on like they always had. Tuang grabbed her arm and dragged her across the bridge, back onto the island. She stared off into the Mainland, hoping for only a glimmer of her aunt.

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"She's not coming." Talau said looking around the crowd of people.

"Perhaps she'll come late." Beroel said without emotion.

The chieftess shook her head, "No. None of her friends are here either. She won't come...I just hope she'll be okay while I'm gone."

Beroel walked off into the crowd leaving Talau alone in a sea of people. It was a lackluster party. The food and drinks were few and even the drummers played so solemn. As she walked around, all eyes diverted from her. Before she could reach the buffet table, someone stopped her.

"What do you want, Mesaul?" She was not pleased.

"Please reconsider Omoachel as your choice for chief in your absence."

Talau was annoyed, "Why? Should I choose you instead? How dare y-"

"I just don't want my son to become chief," he was serious, "If you give the power to your niece, he will take it from her."

She didn't have a reply.

"We have our differences, but we both care about our people. My son does not."

"I will think about it."

He walked away and continued to mingle with the crowd. She could not trust him, but it was unlike Mesaul to talk down about him own family. The man was full of pride and she could tell it wounded him to speak so lowly of his own child. But she wouldn't put it past him. Mesaul would not make a good chief, but Tuang would be even worse. She wished Omo was there so she could guide her and teach her to be strong. Neither choice seemed ideal, but the chieftess only had until the sun reached midsky to decide.

She lost her appetite and chose to consult her warriors. Talau spotted Rekas in the crowd. His long hair was freshly braided and he wore his new uniform. He had come a long way from the unwashed laborer boy he once was. Talau felt a sense of motherly pride.

"Gather the warriors, Rekas."

He spoke as she began to turn, "Beroel and a few others returned to the barracks to retrieve some supplies."

"...oh." and she said no more.

The barracks were empty. She knew Beroel had a different agenda, but chose not to speak up. He would return in time to leave and that she was sure. Beroel had made it clear that what he wanted most was to leave these islands. He wouldn't miss the opportunity. Talau wandered through the crowd, watching the sky.

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He pounded on the door but received no response.

"She's not here and she could be anywhere. Let's just go back to the Mainland."

"Will still have time." His voice was cold.

He turned and looked towards the banker's hut. The other warriors saw and tried to stand in his way. They tried to hold him back, but he pressed onward towards the home and had no intentions of quitting.

"This is madness, Beroel!"

He approached the hut and pounded on the door. No response. Again and again he punched the wooden door, denting it. Finally, Tuang swung it open and for a second their was almost a glimmer of fear before the usual snide smile.

"What do you want?"

"Where is Omo?"

"That's no concern of yours" Tuang laughed.

Beroel tried to push his way inside the doorway, but the treasurer's son stopped him. The warrior punched him and used the time to shove his way inside. The other two warriors worked to distract Tuang as Beroel searched. But the banker's son was enraged and knocked through the others in pursuit of Beroel. He latched onto his dreads and yanked him down to the floor. But the warrior elbowed him in the ribs and escaped into one of the rooms. No Omo. He checked another. Still no sight of her. When he returned to the main room, the other had at last held Tuang at bay.

"Where is she!"

He laughed, "Not here."

"It's no use, Beroel. We'll never find her in time." the warriors added.

Beroel sighed and walked towards the doorway.

"At long last you finally have me held down to take your revenge and you walk away. You've always been a coward."

Beroel stopped, but didn't turn around, "I'm not like you, Tuang. When I have my revenge, it will be equal. We will fight alone and the best out of us will prevail."

Beroel exited the hut and the other warriors pushed Tuang away and followed him. Tuang was furious. He already had prevailed. The next time he saw that blasphemer, if ever, he'd show him no more mercy. He walked outside to the totems.

"Spirits, may the worst become of the warriors."

He turned to a pile of wooden sticks and burlap sacks and shook it to reveal Omoachel.

"And may you pray I don't wish the same on you."

The End

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