Climbing seemed to go more easily for Alika than Plumeria. Her shoes kept slipping on the rock, making her wish she had worn hiking boots rather than a worn pair of tennis shoes with no tread. How was she to know she would go hiking up a mountain in the rain? But she trudged along, following Alika’s lead and trusting his cat senses to lead them to where they needed to go.
After snagging on the undergrowth repeatedly, she tore off the bottom of her skirt to just above the knees. She found she got around a lot better and hoped their would be no witchy ramifications for damaging her outfit. She imagined she wasn’t going to keep it anyway. From now on she would wear black, not grey, if her observations of the other witches was correct.
Gaia seemed to go with them most of the way. They ascended with little incident and she was just saying a thank you prayer when Alika stopped short, his nose in the air sniffing. Assuming he had found something but not wanting to jeopardize their silence or their position, Plumeria stopped and waited for his assessment.
She wanted to fidget with something, anything, just to have something to do other than stare into the partial darkness and listen to the waterfalls streaming down the mountain. It was still raining a little bit and the air was misty. Suddenly, Plumeria saw a fog emanate from Alika. It started at his muzzle and got thicker as it spread. He must definitely know something.
She readied her hands and steadied her feet, determined that should she need to attack, she wouldn’t fall backward. She tried to steady her hands but they shook with nervousness. She had led a relatively sheltered life. She wasn’t prepared for this level of adventure. In fact, her whole body felt engrossed in tremors. She’d never felt such fear before, had never had a reason to.
Alika began to creep forward. She was uncertain whether he wanted Plumeria to or not, but terrified of losing her only companion, she didn’t care what he thought. She was going with him. She carefully stepped where he stepped so as to not disturb a single stone. Fortunately it was still raining, so that would mask some of their movement.
Alika was creeping toward a rock wall along the path they’d been following once they had climbed a certain height. She could tell there was an enclave or entrance. This must be the cave Ailani told them about. She wondered how deep it was. By all appearances, it was not very deep, but as she knew from growing up near mountains, appearances could be deceiving. Inside was the remnants of a fire still smoking. Whoever had put that fire out hadn’t gone far. It had to be Kahuna’s hangout.
Plumeria looked behind her, waiting for him to try to ambush them. She looked all around where they were standing, eyes and ears on high alert, but detected nothing. She imagined Alika was doing the same thing because he was looking all around them as he was moving forward toward the smoke.
The smokiness mixed with Alika’s fog, and made it impossible for anyone who didn’t have dark vision to see. Plumeria took comfort in that fact and relaxed a bit, but not so much that she would make a mistake. She still stepped where Alika stepped and looked where Alika looked. She just felt her body tremors subside somewhat.
Once they got to the cave they looked inside and it was shallow–no winding and twisting caverns. The smoking pile of embers was all the evidence there was that anyone had been there.
It was beginning to rain more heavily and there was thunder and lightening in the distance that was getting closer. Plumeria finally whispered to Alika, “I think we should go back. The weather is going to make tracking him impossible.”
But Alika believed they could capture him that night. “Ailani sent us out tonight for a reason. We don’t need tracks. He will come to us. We just have to see him first,” he said, digging in the fire’s ashes with his claws. “Look, he already left us a clue. We know he didn’t go far. Why wait until morning when the trail is cold?”
“The trail is already cold. We’ll never find him with the rain washing everything away,” she said while petting him. Petting him had always seemed to get her way before. But not this time. Alika was resolute.
“The longer we wait, the further away he gets.” Plumeria couldn’t argue with that. She just wondered how they were going to see him before he found them. Their only advantage was dark vision, but he had the bright flashes of lightening to see by. How could Alika be certain he would not see them that way? But Alika seemed certain and so had Ailani, so Plumeria decided to carry on.
Once again, Plumeria follow’s Alika’s lead, trusting his animal senses. She wondered what it was like to have them as she followed behind him, careful not to even overturn a stone or make any kind of noise. If he’d been annoyed with her, he would have said so. She wondered at how quiet she’d been able to be and wondered if she had some kind of new witchy sense that allowed her to move more silently. She would have to ask Ailani about that once she returned to the forest.
Ah the forest and the bonfire. It had seemed frightening at the time, but now it felt like safety and she wished she was back there. She would give anything to be mingling with the members of her coven again, drinking coconut milk. That reminded her. She stopped, tapped on Alika’s back and got his attention. She pulled out part of a coconut and the small container of goose blood Ailani had given them and offered them to Alika. He partook of the coconut and she smeared more blood on his face and down his back before partaking of the coconut herself and smearing blood on her face and hands.
She felt fortified and courageous, just as Ailani had intended. She still had some left in case it took a while to find Kahuna. She replaced the coconut and blood back in her pouch and nodded to Alika that she was ready to continue. She couldn’t believe how much better she felt. She felt virtually invincible. She hoped they found Kahuna while she still felt this way. She would have no trouble overcoming him. This must be what drugs felt like. Maybe it was a drug. These were witches. One could never tell, afterall.
They kept climbing upward, yet staying above the cave. Alika must figure Kahuna would stay near his shelter, Plumeria thought. They were getting high enough that it was difficult to even see the roof of the cave. Plumeria feared they were losing their way when Alika stopped again and sniffed the air. He looked at Plumeria and used one paw to point to his right.. Fumbling in the dark and climbing about only when lightening struck was the exact image of Kahuna that Plumeria had seen in Ailani’s folder.. He was about 35 feet away from them.
Plumeria was ready to strike, but Alika put a paw up to stop her. He wanted to make sure Kahuna was alone before rushing into battle and signaled Plumeria to be quiet. Kahuna sat down on a large rock, breathing heavily. He had obviously been climbing the mountain in haste. Plumeria watched as he signaled behind him for someone below to come forward. Alika thought to himself that he had been right after all. The slime was not alone. Plumeria and Alika could hear swearing and the sliding of loose rock as the other figure came into view.
“Damn Kahuna! Slow down! Believe me, she isn’t that smart.” Plumeria gasped when she saw and heard the other figure. It was Ikaika, her brother! He was supposed to be with a friend. Well apparently he was, but she didn’t like his choice of friends. Alika was as shocked as she was, but put a paw on her leg to keep her quiet. The rain had masked her gasp, but he wasn’t sure they wouldn’t hear her if she did anything louder.
“Quit whining, Stewie. You’re the one who wanted to come along on this thing and see her fail. If you can’t take the heat, don’t stand by the fire,” Kahuna gasped.
Stewie. Kahuna called him by the American name he had always wanted. He detested his Hawaiian name and his Hawaiian heritage. He wanted to be blond, blue-eyed, and live on the mainland. All he had ever wanted was to be an average American, but his looks and his name had always made that difficult. He thought if he was blonde he would have a better chance of being a light witch. Silly boy! He had no powers and even if he did, that wasn’t how things worked.
Stewie had always been jealous of Plumeria and the fact that she had been born with powers. He felt he deserved them, not her. He had always tried to do cruel things to get her to use them as children, not knowing she actually couldn’t. She couldn’t have pulled the gloves off even if she had wanted to. She had been born with them on. They were like a birthmark or tatoo that couldn’t be removed.
Her parents had always taken great care with her education, teaching her about Gaia and the Wiccan ways via parochial schools, but Stewie had always been left out of those teachings, being sent instead to public school. She could understand why he was jealous. She got a lot of respect and attention. Her parents probably respected her hoping she would treat them well when she came of age. They didn’t try to garner this respect with Stewie.
While most parents were alarmed and upset when they gave birth to a specially powered child, Plumeria’s parents relished it. They showed her off and talked about what she would be one day rather than trying to hide her. She was never led to be ashamed of her powers. In fact it was quite the opposite. Stewie just tagged along.
“I can take the heat. I’m in better shape climbing this mountain than you are,” Stewie said without gasping, leaning against the same boulder Kahuna was sitting on with his arms crossed across his chest. “I just don’t understand what your hurry is.”
“They have probably already been to the cave. I want to get as high up as possible before they find us. That way I can shove her down the mountainside and make it look like an accident. I don’t want to be blamed for killing any more witches, even though the dark one deserved it.”
“What about the cat? He’s a family pet,” Stewie asked.
“Do you want to keep him now that he has powers? No, he’ll just be left up here to fend for himself. He’ll probably get eaten by something bigger than he is,” Kahuna said as he started to chuckle.
“Are you serious? He’s a cat!” Stewie argued, forming his hands into fists at his side.
“Wrong! He’s a familiar now, not a cat. He must be destroyed alongside her. Do you want to be the one to do it? If not, shut up and let me work here,” Kahuna said standing and matching every bit of Stewie’s 6 feet of height. They were both fairly tall for Hawaiian men, who usually stood between 5’8″ and 5’9″.
Well, at least he cares about Alika, Plumeria thought. He could care less if I get shoved down the side of the mountain, but as long as Alika survives he’ll be okay.