Alika made tracks as quickly as possible back to Ailani to tell her what had happened. Ailani moved quickly to gather her light witches. Laser hits were difficult to heal, especially close to the heart. She wanted as many light practitioners as possible to move with her up the mountain. On the journey, Alika told Ailani about Stewie, aka Ikaika, Plumeria’s brother. He still feared that Stewie would find Plumeria’s body and kill her. He was a spiteful boy. Ailani took this news solemnly, figuring this was how Kahuna knew about the ceremony. She encouraged her posse to move even more quickly up the mountain, feeling Alika’s sense of urgency.
Alika led them right to Plumeria’s body. As suspected, she hadn’t been able to stay awake and now lay unconscious on the damp forest floor. A black circle marked the location of her injury. As on of the light witches inspected it, she could’t be certain that it had not struck her heart. Alika allowed tears to slip from his yellow eyes for the first time.
He’d been raised by Plumeria and couldn’t imagine a life without her. He looked at his paw that had the Dream tag on it. It hadn’t been damaged in the fire. Neither had hers–hers was still on her left wrist. He touched their left appendages together, silently reminding her to dream, then saying it out loud as the witches tended to her with their concentrated beams of light.
Gradually the black hole began to close and disappear. “We still have a lot of dreaming to do together, you as the dark witch, me as the dark familiar. You can’t leave me now. I’m only a year old. I don’t know how to live without us,” he told her, sniffling lightly.
“I’m sorry, Alika. I never intended for this to happen. I had hoped that he wouldn’t have the chance to hurt her,” Ailani said. “We’re going to carry her down to that little cave where she can get some rest for a few days. You tend to her. You know her best. And when she is ready, bring her the rest of the way down the mountain. We are going to be searching for Stewie. He has some explaining to do.”
Alika kept vigil in the cave for 24 hours. Then a miraculous thing happened–Plumeria opened her eyes. “Alika,” she whispered.
“Shhh, you are still very weak. But I am so glad to see you awake. The light witches healed you, but they want you to rest.”
She closed her eyes again, but opened them every few hours as if to make sure Alika was still tending to her. “I love you Lika,” she managed to say once. Alika rubbed his head against her cheek and purred in her ear, hoping she would go back to sleep. The injury had nearly killed her and she needed to rest, not talk.
But he was still glad to hear she loved him, even though he knew it. She had always shown him more love than anyone else in the world. She carried him like a precious thing, played with him, pet him, fed him, always made sure he had whatever he needed. Now it was his turn to take care of her. And he did. He was the most dutiful, attentive nurse she could have asked for.
After 3 days she was able to sit up and converse with him. She didn’t remember the end of the battle, so he had to share that with her. He told her how she bravely struck Kahuna’s heart at the same time he nearly struck hers. He told her how he cut off the hands and now Ailani had them. He told her they were still looking for Stewie. At this she cried. He couldn’t tell if it was because she felt sorry for Stewie or because she was worried about him being in the mountains alone. For whatever reason, she still loved her brother, the same brother who wanted to see her thrown off the side of a mountain.
Alika wondered if he was sorry for any of it, for befriending Kahuna, for giving him information, for wishing his sister dead. Did Kahuna bewitch him and was it even possible for a light witch to do that? Was Kahuna working with a darker power? There were still a lot of questions he couldn’t answer for Plumeria, even though she asked them.
He knew the coven was working around the clock to find Stewie. What a loss it would have been for the Maloa family to lose Plumeria and Stewie. He hoped they found Stewie and brought him to some sort of justice, made him sorry for his misdeeds. But he had never been content with who he was, so Alika doubted he would ever come to terms with what he had done and almost done.
After another 2 days, Plumeria was ready to descend the rest of the mountain. She and Alika walked down and through the bamboo forest. They left the forest and crossed Interstate 1 to where the Maloas were waiting for Plumeria. The witches had informed them of her injury and they were glad to see her walk to their car under her own power after having been injured so grievously.
“Any sign of Ikaika?” Plumeria asked, using Stewie’s Hawaiian name out of respect for her parents. The both shook their heads no.
“We can’t believe it was him, or that one of them was him. Our son tried to murder our daughter. It’s incomprehensible,” Akamai said after hugging Plumeria tightly. “Thank you, Alika, for all you have done for Plumeria. We know you love her as much as we do.” Alika meowed and licked Plumeria’s cheek in affection.
The four of them were piling into the car when Iekika came running across the interstate. Akamai rolled down the window. “Do you have news?”
Iekika was panting from her jog to try and catch them. Her speech was broken by breaths, but they understood what she said, “We found him.”
Plumeria grabbed onto Alika and held him tightly. “Where?” she asked dryly.
“Cave about 2 miles from where you were hit. He’s a cowardly little mite, but we’ll bring him to justice. He was on his way back from checking on the distraction you made when he heard you and Kahuna already engaged. He ran to another little cave they used and hid there until we found him. He was hungry and thirsty because he didn’t know how to fend for himself. We have taken care of his physical needs, but he will answer to the council and to the law for what he has done. Witches and cops work together sometimes.
“He spilled everything when we found him, how Kahuna and he met at a bar. I don’t know what he was doing in a bar at 18, but there he was. Kahuna had offered him money to take down Ailani. Witch after witch came after them unsuccessfully. Then he knew you were coming of age, Plumeria, along with Alika. He told Kahuna that if he would take Plumeria down, he would have what he wanted.
They wanted to make it look like an accident so there would be no legal investigation. They figured after they took down an initiate, the rest would be easy. But after you actually engaged with Kahuna, he got scared. He didn’t want to get his precious hide electrocuted and he didn’t know if you would hit him or not, so he decided not to find out the hard way.
Ailani thought Kahuna’s laser was getting more powerful by something evil. Stewie denied this. He said Kahuna told him it got more powerful after he killed the one witch and he figured it would continue to get more powerful with every witch he killed. So there you have it. We give him over to police custody after we have finished interrogating him, but I don’t think we have much more to find out. He already spilled it all.”
“Thanks, Iekika. I appreciate knowing the truth,” Plumeria said with sincerity, her face falling with the knowledge that her brother went to all this trouble to be rid of her and she wouldn’t have done a thing to his hide.
“Plumeria, he was always jealous of you. Nothing you could have done would have saved him. He was just a bitter person. He is no longer my son,” Haukea proclaimed. “I denounce him for trying to kill my daughter.”
“Don’t you think that is rather extreme, Haukea?” Akamai asked. “He sinned, yes, but he is still our son.”
“He may be your son, but he is not mine. What do you think, Plumeria?”
“I don’t know what to think. He was my brother but he wanted me dead and showed no remorse for it. I don’t know. My head is still spinning. I can’t believe Ikaika would do such a thing.”
“But he did,” Haukea pointed out. “Jail is too good for him.”
“I do agree with that assessment. Jail is like a spa these days,” Akamai said.
“But jail is where he will go. Let’s go home,” Plumeria suggested. “I don’t have to meet with my coven until next week. Let’s just go home.”
Iekika began walking back to the forest and Akamai started the car.
“You know, though, I am glad to be a dark witch. I am glad to keep Alika as my familiar. I don’t think I would want it any other way.” And with that, Akamai put the car in gear and headed home.