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Sacrifice a short stor.., p.5
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       Sacrifice - A Short Story, p.5

           Kell Inkston
 
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and the two sail on to the island of The Great Face.

  VI

  The sun bends along the great blue sky, and the island is in sight. A great, jagged gray outline appears in front of the two.

  “Looks like teeth,” Luua says, peering out with a look of focus, rather than fear.

  The clanless looks up to the outline. “Really? Looks more like… some mountains to m-” She nudges him with her foot.

  “Can you at least try to make me feel like this is worth something?”

  He laughs. “Oh! The death! The doom! The Great Face calls you! Breathe deep and cry in dread, for the hour of your undoing is nigh!”

  She sighs and her posture droops. “Never mind.”

  “Oh, the dark, evil, crimson blackness! The sadness and sorrow! Th- Oh!” The clanless stops his dramatic monologue, spotting something across the waves. “Your wayfarers are some committed boys.”

  Luua peers to where the clanless is looking, and spots a wooden speck in her vision. “No way…”

  “They must really like you. You know, in Toor, they’d only let you bind with one guy, but if you’d change your mind and live with me, I’d let you have as many boyfriends as you’d like!”

  Luua conveniently ignores the clanless’ comment as she looks upon the beached boat- the very same she was in just yesterday. Amuu and Ruka are nowhere to be found. “They’re probably ready for us,” Luua says.

  “Well they’re going to be disappointed- I’ll get you there first.”

  Luua squints an eye. “That’s a change, just why are you helping me?”

  The clanless shrugs. “I’ve never seen The Great Face. As sad as I am that you’re going to throw yourself away, the only thing I can do now is help you do as you please and watch.”

  Luua draws back to a straight, official-looking position. “You’re crazy… but thanks- I hope you have a good life.”

  Hidden under his guise and mask, he smiles. “The rest of my life will be a blast no matter what, I assure you…. Want a brojangalo?” he asks, presenting her with another of the fruits.

  She takes it eagerly, “Thank you. Poison would be a fitting last meal for a tribute,” she says with a grim, weak smile before taking a bite.

  “Uh, sure. So I’m guessing The Face is somewhere in the middle of those mountains— cuz you know, such a great face.” He waves his hand about uncertainly.

  Luua looks over to him as she takes a bite of her brojangalo. “What makes you think that?”

  “You know… just sorta looks like a spot for an important god to hang out.”

  “Yeah? Well if I was a god maybe I’d like to see the ocean.”

  “I don’t know- if you have those tall mountains you’d have shelter to make all sorts of crazy plans- besides, I’d get sick of that sea breeze eventually.” The clanless interjects as they near their destination.

  “I’m sure The Great Face doesn’t care all that much.”

  The boat shores only meters away from the wayfarer’s boat.

  “Alright, well I’m cool with anything. You lead.” The clanless gestures for her to go ahead.

  “Good. I’m sure the trip will take us a bit to get to the center.”

  He chuckles. “So you suddenly think The Face’s in the mountains?”

  She shrugs awkwardly. “W-well no, I didn’t actually say I thought it would be around the coast. I just thought I would do that if I were a god.”

  “Whatever, you cheated,” he says.

  She waves dismissively. “Okay, stop, I’m about to die, so please.” The two start into the woods,

  “You don’t seem to care quite as much, do you?” He follows along, eying about the woods.

  “Of course I do… I’m just… nervous, I guess.”

  “I’d be nervous too- but you’ll be a great sacrifice.”

  Luua nods. “Thanks, I guess.”

  He nods back. “Weird, I’d imagine they would have come for us by now.”

  She hops over a log. “I’d imagine they want to be sure where The Face is- and that’s where they’ll go for you.”

  “Spooky,” the clanless says mockingly.

  “Yeah, real spooky,” she says as they ascend the incline. A minute later, she looks back to him. “So, you’ve been around, have you really never met The Great Face?”

  He chuckles. “Maybe.”

  She sighs. “Okay, I should have guessed. Nevermi-”

  “She is not so bad once you get to know her. Has some interesting views on the value of people— a bit artsy. She taught me a lot of that stuff about making friends with birds and growing grass to eat and making more friends— pretty cool overall. Big shame with the tribute required and all that. You know, you could just be friends. I’m sure she’d," he pauses to make quotes with his fingers, “forgive not being given a tribute. I’m pretty sure people have just been coming here over and over with no idea what the decree was supposed to mean.”

  Luua gives an exaggerated nod. “Yeah, I’m sure we’re all wrong, and you’re totally right.”

  “We’ll find out for sure soon enough. I’ll let you know in the spirit— I’ll bring you some brojangalos in your dreams,” he says, flawlessly climbing an outcropping of rocks and offering his hand to pull her up.

  She rises quickly. “Uh, thanks.”

  They continue on through groves and glades, the angle abruptly rising some places and dropping others. For a bit of the way the clanless offered Luua his back to be carried, but the further they went along, the less she used his offered help. She would kill herself at the jaws of the beast without the aid of others and be a rightfully noble tribute.

  She wonders, on the last few minutes before reaching the center of the island, just how it will feel— to be crushed between those long, jagged teeth she’s heard of in all the stories, the great heat one feels when one's own blood spills across one’s skin, and how the ears ring with the sound of the body being divided in an instant. She takes a breath, clears her throat. “Hey.”

  “Yes?” he says, fiddling with some twigs and grass to make something.

  “Do you know what dying feels like?”

  “Scared, are we?”

  “Curious.”

  He scoffs lightly. “That’s fair. I almost died a few times. Everything gets blurry, and dark.”

  “Don’t you see a light?”

  “If someone’s shining a light in your face, sure. Otherwise, it’s dark— then you sort of fade and everything suddenly hurts less, though you know it’s still supposed to hurt.”

  She stops in her tracks a moment, her brows raised and her gaze to her feet. “How much will it hurt?”

  “Well, considering you’ll be eaten in like, one bite, it shouldn’t be too bad. I’d say maybe… ten seconds at the worst. Well unless The Face swallows you whole that is— then you’ll have a much more exciting death.”

  She curtly starts back through the trees. “Yeah, thanks.”

  “I wouldn’t worry about that, though. I think she’s pretty merciful. A matter of fact I bet you’ll be split right down the middle. Do you want me to let the boys watch?”

  Luua sighs. “I don’t care. I’ll be dead.”

  “B-but you might die in some super-awkward position, or you might make some weird sound, like ughwbelllllh! Or wagouuuguuhhhh!” He contorts himself dramatically as he makes her simulated death noises.

  “Thank you for the detail,” she says, glancing back long enough to see the clanless waving his hands about in dramatic agony and confusion.

  “My pleasure.”

  “… I can’t say I really care about that either- it’ll all be over.”

  The clanless nods his head about in thought as he puts the finishing touches on his little craft. “Yeah? Did you not enjoy life?”

  Luua’s gaze is pointed squarely to the ground. “I’m not sure. I just really wish I could have met my mom— she died giving birth to me; and I wish my dad wouldn’t have drowned or whatever.”

  “You don’t know
what happened to him?” He asks this as he twists a twig daintily.

  “No- they said it was a fishing accident. I asked about it when I was older and they said his whole ship got lost at sea. Everyone died, including him.”

  The clanless sighs. “Well I’m terribly sorry to hear that. Maybe your dad’s still alive, somewhere.”

  “Why would he do that? Wouldn’t he know how to get back?”

  He shrugs. “Maybe he got lost. How would I know?”

  She shrugs back. “You wouldn’t, never mind. If he was alive, and did find his way back, I’d smack his shit up.”

  The clanless man hums. “Really?”

  “Really.”

  “So I guess you blame him for something?”

  “If he could’ve come back, he should’ve. He could go in my place.”

  “Yeah, what a shame.”

  “And I guess… I guess I just wanted to know him. I don’t have much to remember him by, but I hear he was a good man from everyone— and to believe that he’d still be alive would be… I don’t think I could handle that.”

  The clanless nods. “It would probably create more problems than it’d solve, don’t you think?”

  “I guess, except that I still have to die and all. But I think I’m…” She takes a breath. “I think I’m ready, actually. I actually think I’m ready to do this. It’s not so bad. It’ll be quick, and I’ll see my parents again. Life has been short, but I’m happy. I think the elder was right by keeping it from me. The kids would’ve treated me differently… Yeah,” she tightens her fists in determination. “I’ll honor my ancestors and be the next tribute in the line. I’m honored to save them all.”

  The clanless shakes his head. “Well I’m glad you believe in something… but I would have wished you’d have
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