When the search party returned to the village, it was apparent that something was going on.
Although Hilo tried, he could not stop Mahe and P'li from running back to the village in haste. That only made him and Kainak run back in just as much has as those two.
A crowd had gathered of Teo and researchers inside the village near the Chief's hut. It looked pretty deep, so whatever it was filled all of them with dread, P'li in particular. He seemed to be the most concerned and tried to push his way through the crowd to try and get to the center. His worst fears were confirmed when he got a look at the corpse.
"THAT'S MY SISTER!!!" he cried out, trying to break the grip of one of the researchers. Manti motioned to the researcher, the researcher let him go, and he ran up to Hani's badly-mangled body while a researcher examined her. "WHAT HAPPENED!?"
"She was mauled to death," Manti said, adjusting his mahiole. "Kina, Huli, and 'O loane discovered her less than an hour ago. It appears she was killed last night." Those names being the Pomaika'ian translations for Gina and John's, but not Julie's, at least not directly.
"Last night!?" he wailed as he tried to touch his sister's body, only for the researcher to hold out his gloved hand.
"Hold still, I'm not done yet!" The Chilean researcher said in English.
"P'li, let the researcher do his work," said Manti. "You will be allowed to bury her, do not worry."
Kainak slipped in through the crowd, over to Julie, who was standing with Gina and John, watching the impromptu autopsy. He took one look at the body and turned away. "What happened?"
"Found her hanging upside down outside the village," said Julie. "She's P'li's sister."
"No wonder he's so distraught," he replied.
"Well, it's not much of an autopsy, but I can say for certain she was mauled," said the researcher. "By what, I don't know."
"Not much you can say, I guess," said Gina.
"Just from the markings on her skin, it's pretty obvious an animal attacked her," said the coroner. "Kainak, ask Manti if there have been any attacks lately, aside from that monkey battle."
"Manti, have there ever been any maulings like this?" Kainak asked. +
"The jungle is a dangerous place," said Manti. "It's not surprising that someone would be torn to shreds like that. It's happened to many tribesmen before."
"Well, these teeth marks look interesting," said the Chilean. "I'm gonna need some pictures of them, maybe we can get an idea of what it is."
"Can't he find that out right now!?" P'li shouted.
"Huli said this researcher does not study animals but is a doctor," said Manti. "Patience!"
"I WANT REVENGE FOR MY—"
"WHEN I TELL YOU TO BE PATIENT, YOU STAY PATIENT!" Manti bellowed, standing up and letting his yellow and orange ʻahu ʻula flow down to his ankles. P'li sorrowfully crept away while the Chief looked over his tribesmen and women. "Listen, until we find out who or what did this, you need to stay calm! We cannot have hysteria spreading through the village like a curse! Do you understand!?"
"Wow," Gina whispered. "He knows when to take control, doesn't he?"
"Yep," said Kainak.
"Kainak, tell Gina that we look forward to the results of their investigation," said Manti. "And that we thank her for their help."
"He is welcome," said Gina. "Come on, Juan, let's let them mourn. I don't think they're going to want us around, anyway."
Except for Manti, Julie, and Kainak, that is. But the suspicious stares coming from members of the Tribe was getting unnerving, if not for Manti's glare, making them all turn their heads in shame.
Hani's funeral was that night. Oranta's funeral pyre may have been disrespectful (to say the least), but Hani's was mournful and solemn. +
Manti said a few words, and so did P'li. There wasn't much to say, other than that, she was too young, and she did not deserve what had happened to her. And that whoever did this would face Teo justice.
For now, though, that was not on their minds. A young woman had been killed, and vengeance should be the last thing on anyone's mind.
Mournful, but also celebratory music played to mourn her loss, but to celebrate her arrival in the Afterlife. Death was natural, and the Teo treated it as such. But, this was no ordinary death. People savagely cut down received a special place in the Afterlife, where their soul would receive eternal comfort, especially in the case of violent deaths. Still, it was best to be safe than sorry, and they prayed for Hani's spirit to go to the Afterlife in peace so she won't come back and haunt them.
Among the mourners was a girl named Unaki. She was the young Paea woman who was the center of the last adventure, kidnapped by her aunt Oranta so she could take the sorceress's place as the Monkey Queen. Because of her (although it was not her fault), Oranta attacked the village, ran off with Chief Manti, and tried to kill him. And now she was dead at Unaki's hand by Julie's knife.
"What happened?" Unaki asked Julie in a soft, shaky voice.
"Hani was killed," Julie said. "Something mauled her to death."
"Oh, my," said Unaki. "How horrible!" Fear gripped Unaki's expression, making Julie place her hand on the girl's shoulder and give her a reassuring smile.
"We'll find out what it is," she said. "And please, give your condolences to P'li and his family."
"That I will," said Unaki.
Julie spent the rest of the night off to the side, watching Unaki talking to P'li. From where she was, they seemed to be hitting it off, or at least, Unaki was doing her best to make sure he was feeling better. It was probably the latter.
The funeral itself had turned into a celebration, like the wakes and funerals she went back home. Those started mournfully, and quickly turned into more of a laid-back and festive atmosphere, with people usually talking about things other than the deceased. Hey, it helps people move on.
And in a way, Julie found herself hoping P'li and Unaki would get together.
"Are you okay?" Kainak strode up to her and sat down.
"Why do I have a bad feeling about this?" she asked.
"I dunno, you tell me," he replied. "You're upset about the way the tribe reacted to the researchers, aren't you? And by the way, it's written all over your face."
"It's that obvious?" she asked. "Ah, well. I kinda thought we were past this, y'know?"
Yeah, I don't blame you," he said, sitting down and stretching his legs out. Huli looked down at his loincloth, and back up to his face, hoping he wasn't looking. "Were you looking at me?" +
"No I wasn't," she said. "And quit looking at my chest."
"You were looking at my chest and loincloth," he laughed, making her roll her eyes. "You know, I'm glad you're attracted to me, you don't have to lie."
"Yes, I was looking at your loincloth and hot bod," she laughed. "Take it easy, Tarzan."
"Alright, now let's get back to the tribe," he said.
"Yeah," she said. "I kinda thought things were getting better, like the Tribe trusted them. I mean, they did help."
"Outsiders," said Kainak. "I don't think the tribe really trusted them as much as you hoped, because... well... they're outsiders?"
STORY CONTINUES BELOW
"If you're as confused as I am, just admit it," she said.
"Okay, I am," he said. "I don't get it either."
"I guess we'll have to ask," she said.
Some mysteries were worth keeping mysterious. It made things more interesting. This was not one of those mysteries. After all, prejudice in any skin color is a blight on humanity and only makes our situation worse.
Kainak could hear some of the tribesmen talking, and heard the word "haole" in their conversation. He got up and letting his primal instincts take over, crept up to them without making a sound, and listened to their conversation intently.
"... Saying the haole are to blame?"
"Why wouldn't they?"
"But you don't have any proof! And Chief Manti said—"
"What does he know!?"
"What do you know?"
"I am convinced they are behind this!"
"But how do you know that? I think Manti's right, and we can't be certain—"
"She was mauled to death! How would the researchers have killed her!? They have those fire-spitting wands—"
"They beat her!"
"You don't have proof, and you know it!"
While it didn't tell Kainak where this was coming from, he knew he had to keep an eye on the anti-researcher sentiment. If he wasn't careful, it could explode. And he knew whatever happened next would not be good.
The glow and smoke from the funeral pyre could be seen from the research camp, about a mile away, near the shore. Some of the researchers, who were worried about the smoke, were relieved to find out. Still, things were relaxed in the camp, and most of the researchers were in good spirits.
... Except, of course, for the ones investigating Hani's murder.
They weren't nervous; they were doing their jobs. The Chilean doctor, Juan, took the photos back to base camp to show to one of their top biologists, Japanese professor Tsuyoshi Ishida, a senior fellow at the University of Tokyo.
Professor Ishida examined the photographs that Juan had taken very carefully, uploaded to his laptop. He squinted and widened his eyes in intervals, examining the bite marks on the woman's skin. Juan waited, checking his phone, which surprisingly had reception. The whole island had reception, but that was probably from a cell phone tower somewhere on one of the neighboring islands here in the middle of the Equatorial Pacific.
"I know they're bite marks," Professor Ishida said in his accented English.
"But of what?" Juan asked in response.
"I don't know," Prof. Ishida replied, drawing a sigh from Juan. "I'm loathe to say it, but they look like the bites of monkeys."
"Why loath?" Juan asked. "Haven't you heard about monkeys attacking humans? Why should you be surprised?"
"Good point," said Prof. Ishida. He sat back, stretching out his slightly-portly stomach with a heavy sigh and re-examined the photos. "I'm just not sure what would provoke all those monkeys to attack her."
"What do you mean, 'all those monkeys'?"
"Do these look like the same individual to you?" Prof. Ishida asked. "These bite mark patterns are of different sizes and shapes."
You can't be serious," said Juan. +
"We just had an incident with a wizard and a lot of monkeys," Prof. Ishida laughed. "At this point, I'm not going to question this."
"Good point," said Juan. "I'm going to get some coffee, do you want any?"
"No, thank you," said Prof. Ishida.
"Sure," Juan said as he left the Professor's tent. A small monkey watched him move from the shadows.
Most of the researchers gathered around the bonfire, roasting sausages and marshmallows like this was an American summer camp. Some light conversation was going on, mostly talking about sports or old stories they hadn't yet told their colleagues about. One researcher was talking about how he broke his arm after climbing a tree in British Columbia. He could laugh about it now because even he could admit that wasn't the smartest thing to do, ever.
Gina was doing some paperwork with her black hair tied up in a ponytail and wearing glasses, looked up, and saw Juan going for the coffee pot. "Tired, Juan?" she asked.
"Si," he laughed as he poured some. "Ishida thinks it was monkeys who killed that Teo chica."
"Ugh, I've had enough of monkeys," Gina whispered. "How did he know?"
"Those bite marks," said Juan.
"So that's it," said Gina. "Some of the monkeys on the island were humans who were turned into monkeys. Assuming we're not talking about the ones that were angry about serving her, I can only assume that they might be vengeful."
"Do you really think that?" Juan asked.
"Juan, chimpanzees can use tools," said Gina. "NEVER doubt the intelligence of a monkey."
"Of course," Juan laughed, stirring his drink with cream and sugar. He turned back towards the now-fading light of the Teo funeral pyre. He bowed his head, said a short prayer in Spanish, and made the sign of the Cross.
"I think she's getting all the prayer she needs," said Gina.
"One more wouldn't hurt," said Juan. "Have you ever been to a bonfire?"
"When I was in camp," said Gina. "And on a university-sponsored trip to Hawaii a couple of years ago. It wasn't one of those touristy luaus, but a real bonfire on the beach. We roasted marshmallows and hot dogs. I made a friend from the University of Hawaii."
"I think I've done this," said Juan. "Once in Argentina, and another in Valparaíso."
"I've never been to Argentina," said Erin. "Is it nice?"
"Beautiful beaches," said Juan. "La Costa Partido is my favorite."
"Unfortunately, the last beach bonfire I was at, I got stone-pissed and passed out as soon as I got to my hotel room at Waikiki. I had the worst hangover you could imagine the next day and didn't come out again for two days."
"Tequila or beer?" Juan asked.
"Jack Daniels," Gina laughed.
Juan laughed and sat down to her right, watching the bonfire flames flickering and dancing in the night. One might expect the jungle to be noisy, but it was quieter than usual, although that's not a bad thing. The only non-human sounds were bats looking for prey or fruit and a few bugs that were out this late at night. Plus, the singing and dancing that could be faintly heard coming from the Teo Tribe village.
That Teo music mixed with some of the Led Zeppelin tunes playing off one of the researchers' iPods. Said researcher was Glaswegian but taught at the University of British Columbia.
A researcher from Julie's school, UCLA—and loudly advertised by his light blue shirt with the acronym "UCLA" in a yellow-tailed script—walked up and handed a plate with cooked hot dogs to Gina and Juan. Juan refused one, but Gina took hers.
It tasted sweet and juicy, just the way it should be—or at least, that's what the same researcher told her. Should be, of course. Gina preferred to boil her hot dogs in a pan.
A scream cut through the quiet. The researchers all stopped what they were doing and turned around to see what was going on. Gina put the hot dogs down and grabbed a torch (flashlight) to look for the source of the sound. The light darted about, as she searched for anything. Another scream.
The researchers ran over to Prof. Ishida's tent. They heard a ripping sound, but no one knew what it was. It wasn't until they reached the tent that they saw what had happened. +
Prof. Ishida lay dying on the floor, a knife sticking out of his chest with his throat slashed. "JUAN!" Gina shouted. "Get the first aid kit!"
Juan ran in, carrying the first-aid kit and got to work trying to stop the bleeding. Per his medical training, he did not remove the knife but did his best to stop the bleeding at Prof. Ishida's neck. The professor was so weakened, he couldn't speak. His larynx must've been slashed. He was so weak that when he finally died, barely anyone noticed until Juan desperately started giving him CPR. They all rushed over to help, but it was too late. Prof. Ishida was dead.
"We have to tell Julie," said Gina.
Julie was dancing with the Teo tribesman, celebrating Hani's eventual arrival in the upper afterlife, where she would live like a chieftainess for eternity. Not a haka of course, that had already been performed (KA MATE KA MATE KA ORA KORA!), but dancing around a bonfire while kinda-stoned on a weak dose of Spirit Water that would make a person's inhibitions go away and give them light hallucinogenic effects, but not enough to make them open to suggestion, or in the case of Oranta, go crazy.
Yes, you heard that right, she's on the Teo version of peyote!
With her inhibitions and brain affected by the hallucinogen, she and some of the other tribesmen danced around wildly, but in the same way, you'd find someone jacked up on ecstasy at a rave. People aren't much different from what we think. This particular bonfire dance is no different from any dances where people are hopped up on good old-fashioned mind-altering substances like alcohol, acid, ecstasy and even one's endorphins.
But she was so out of it she didn't notice the headlights until they shone directly into her dilated pupils. "Ah, Spirits!" she groaned, shielding her eyes from the light and Kainak coming up to help her out.
When her eyes at least partially readjusted to the bright light, she looked and saw Gina running towards her. "Why are rainbows coming out of you?" she asked.
"Julie, we have an emergency!" Gina said, grabbing her shoulders.
"Whoa, whoa, slow down, you look like a tiki mask."
"Oh, god, she's on Spirit Water," Gina sighed. "Julie, listen to me: We... have... an... ee... mer... gen... see!"
"An emerging sea?" Julie asked. "But we're surrounded by the Sea Goddess!"
"Why does this have to be so difficult?" Gina cursed. "Gina, something bad has happened!"
"Julie, Prof. Ishida was murdered!"
If there was a way to get Julie to snap out of her drug-induced haze, it was this. And she just stared at Gina, her eyes and mouth wide open, whispering a prayer to the Gods and Spirits.
I did some research into Hawaiian and Maori funeral rites. The Hawaiians typically buried their dead in caves, and the Maori would occasionally cremate their dead. I think like a lot of families today; it sort of depends on the person.
Also, Spirit Water is a hallucinogenic drug used by the Teo in certain ceremonies. Hallucinogens have a long history of being used in religious ceremonies, and it's Spirit Water that helped Julie become a jungle girl. And when you get down to it, dance parties aren't much different from tribesmen dancing around a bonfire. Humans aren't that different from each other at all..
Please reader's, your feedback is important to me, comment and like
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