1. Tales of Monsters
At a certain hour of the night, it seemed there was no difference between the water and the sky.
The curved blade of the boats cut soft streams in the surface of the sea, soon filed again by the water pouring back into the shallow valley. The foamy brine which would have appeared white in the light of day was blotted and made as opaque as cloud by the shimmering glow cast through the surface of the water, illuminating the hulls from below as the moon did the sails above. In every direction, the sea shined vividly, lit from within by the tiny creatures too small for any human eye, who swam and died and were born in a whirling cycle whose only sign was the glow. The children, blinking away the last dredges of a sleep which their elders never shared, opened their mouths in wonder as they reached down to splay their hands through the rushing flow as they had seen their elders do many rimes before, amazed that they touched nothing but water and did not feel the warmth of the sun's rays upon their brightly lit fingers. On the faraway horizon, the light of the sea flowed seamlessly to the sky misted with stars above, so that it seemed to a voyager of any age that they sailed suspended in an unbroken globe, with the light of the heavens shining in from every direction.
The only sound that rose above the hushed breeze and the slap of the waves against the boats was the singing voice of a young woman. Every dip of an oar into the luminous pool below was to the rhythm of her song, and even after the ships had moved far away, the last echoes of her voice could still be heard, trailing behind on the rippling wind.
The quarter-moon moved over the sky as the dawn approached, and it seemed almost to be swimming in the wake of the wind as the fish did below the voyagers' feet.
Deeper and deeper into the water, the light faded until the seas were blacker than the stormiest sky, a darkness even more complete by the merciless press of the stinging, poisoned water from every side. No throat can drink it, and no bones can withstand its crushing embrace. Below this sea, where creatures swam that no mortal had ever glimpsed, was a second membrane parodying the bright one above, and behind this second surface, the entire sea was restrained and hung suspended, roiling as a black vault that reflected the lurid landscape of Lalotai.
The light of the stars could never reach, and the sand was not soft but glittered and prodded like shards of glass. The rocks that jutted out from every angle were almost saltier on the tongue than the impossible sea above and were simultaneously painfully jagged and softened by the growth of living things, snarled coats of glowing algae and the slimy trails of snails. The floor of Lalotai could cut your feet and yet was soft to the touch.
There was no sky in Lalotai, but though black pressed on every side there was nevertheless light. Across every crevice and through every valley was a riot of bioluminescence in every color imaginable. The trees were not green but gleamed in shades of pink, blue, and orange, and the broad, sun-catching leaves were replaced by tendrils that swayed and reached in the saltine air. In the night of this underwater realm, you could see far but still see nothing, for the glowing light lit nothing but itself, and the only way to know you were not only was if the colors were suddenly obscured by the form of a beast passing before it, it belly lit like a pearl oyster by the colony below. In Lalotai, shadows were cast up.
Amongst the glowing rocks darted a lone figure, a small blot against the neon landscape. She moved in bursts, hurrying to one rock, pausing, then scurrying to the next, never daring to set foot into the open which would spread like a platter all around her. Her ankles and heels were smeared with algae, which she inadvertently trailed over the rocks even as she left gaps in the surface of the growth. The faintly illuminated soles of her feet were hard as bone after years of pressing down on the unforgiving, volcanic floor.
She came to yet another rock formation and paused again, her dark hair pressed flat between the barnacled surface and the cloth she wore over the bundle on her back. She knew that her eyes were worse than useless, for the bright neon could only distract from danger, and so she closed them and listened. No sounds came to her except the faint squirming of the creatures in the rock, too small now to be any threat to her. Many of them, in fact, had retreated at her approach, darting back into the pockmarks of the rock.
She opened her eyes and was about to dart off again when she heard a distant shriek, not from the hostile landscape around her but from above. She looked up and saw a massive gleam of silver writhing behind the smears of color reflected on the water's surface. She sucked in a breath and ducked down as a monster crashed down onto the rocks, throwing out a cascade of water that flecked against her brow.
As soon as its body crunched against the floor, the monster screamed and writhed as though in its death agony. The figure crouched at the foot of the rock and watched with wide eyes as its jaws snapped and its limbless body curled and turned, it finned tail throwing up bright green drops that splattered against its dull scales. Its yellow eyes rolled in its arrow-like head, and as she watched, she could see patches of scales scattering over the the stir of the slime.
Eventually, the monster's head thudded on the floor, and its struggles stopped, the long tail growing still. But instead of glazing over, the monster's eyes seemed to be growing more alert. For a moment it remained in the spot where it had landed, the fins on the side of its head flaring, and she could see that the scales which had been dull a moment before were beginning to regain their brightness, as though slowly gathering life from within the creature's flesh. In every attitude of calmness, the monster turned its head, and she ducked her head even further into the rock as it slithered in a leisurely way toward the edge of a nearby canyon. She slowly lifted her eyes again in time to see the creature's tail disappear over the rim, its dark, wounded patches still visible amongst the bright scales.
She rose slowly to her feet, pulling herself up by the heel of her hand in the rock, keeping her eyes fixed on the spot where the monster had disappeared. Behind her came a loud gushing sound, and she turned in time to see a column of steam as solid as the trunk of a tree blowing like a gale into the surface above. A small gasp escaped her lips and she hurried toward it, the burden hanging from her shoulders shoulders tossing back and forth underneath the cloth.
The geyser was still blowing when she reached its base. As the last plume of steam faded, she straightened her back and loudly cleared her throat.
"E-Excuse me!" she called.
Amidst the gaps in the rock that loomed like a mountain before her, she saw the shifting of green scales, their color so dull and muddied she would not have noticed them if not for the movement. She heard the wet sound of the skin scraping against the rock until an eye appeared in a large hole just before her. The eye was larger than her torso and contained a slitted pupil, though now it was opened wide like a mouth to take in the low light.
This eye fixed on her, but the creature within made no sound. She swallowed and stared nervously into the depths of the open pupil.
"Are you Pilifeai?" she said. "The one they call the Dragon in the Rock?"
A clouded membrane slid up over the lizard's eye before it blinked. "Is that me?" it said lazily. Its voice was low and raspy as a whisper.
Her heart hammered in her chest. "I… I would like a ride to the surface," she said. "Please," she added awkwardly.
"There are plenty of geysers," answered Pilifeai. "Pick whichever you like." The eye began to move away.
"No, I can't!" she cried. The pupil slid back and fixed itself on her once more. Though she could only barely make out the eye that stared at her, the lizard could clearly see the form of a young girl, her arms and shins covered in tattoos of scales and ocean waves. "I'm sorry, but… It really has to be this one," she said.
The eye moved back into place. "What will you give me in exchange?" Pilifeai asked.
The girl crouched as the lizard watched and removed the bundle from her back. She whipped away the cloth to reveal a large, shallow bowl with a massive sand dollar serving as the lid. She rose to her feet with the bowl in her arms and pried off the sand dollar. The lizard's eye widened. The bowl was full of fish, slightly squashed but still fresh, the silver scales gleaming.
"I brought this," she said. "You haven't had anything this fresh in a while, have you?"
The lizard's eye silently pulled back into the rock, leaving only the hollow crater. Suddenly, the girl jumped as a red, sticky tongue lashed out of the hole and encircled all the fish at once. The girl's arms were pressed downward by the tongue sliding against the bottom of the bowl, and she couldn't stop a sound of disgust from escaping her throat as the fish were pulled back into the rock. A faint crunching and smacking sound echoed from within the rock before the eye reappeared. The bowl was titled slightly downward, pulled there by the force of the tongue scraping away its meal, and the lizard paused as the light that circled the bottom of the bowl gleamed.
"That calabash…" he began, eyeing it.
The girl's fingers curled against the bottom of the bowl. "What about it?" she asked.
"It's made of gold," said Pilifeai. "It tastes like gold."
"You stole that from the crab, didn't you?" he asked quietly.
The girl bristled. "I didn't steal it," she said.
The eye began to turn within the rock again. "Go elsewhere," said Pilifeai.
"What?" the girl cried. "But… But I fed you!"
"That is not my fault."
"Please, I need to get to the surface!"
"You do not need me for that." The lizard's voice was sharper than it had been yet. "And I do not need you bringing the crab here. Leave me in peace or I'll boil you where you stand."
The girl glowered and raised the bowl on outstretched arms until it glimmered at the height of her head. "If you don't help me," she said, "I'll bury this thing in the rock where you can't reach it, and when he comes, he'll tear this geyser apart to reach it, with you inside."
The lizard's eye moved quickly back into place. The girl stared into it, unblinking. "You know he would," she said.
The eye narrowed. "Troublesome creature," said Pilifeai.
The eye backed into the darkness of the cavern. "You might as well climb in," he said quietly.
The girl's expression brightened. Quickly, she gathered her cloth, piled it into the calabash, and squeezed herself into the gaps in the rock, which proved passable for her but were far too small for the lizard.
The cavern arched above her in twisting, organic shapes as dark, porous rocks pressed in on her from all sides. Scattered across the walls and underneath each protrusion were colonies of tube worms, swaying their glowing red plumes. The girl looked up toward the whole in the ceiling, a gap of black amidst the fronds of red.
She looked around the cavern and saw the had of the lizard, peering at her. Through the wide gaps in the rocky mesh, she could see the rest of its body, pressed painfully against the rough surface of his prison.
"So… what do I do?" she asked.
The lizard's eyes flicked downward. "Stand on that hole, there," he said.
She looked down and saw a round opening in the smooth floor. "I should warn you," Pilifeai said as she stepped over it, "it's going to be hot."
The girl set her calabash down so that it covered the hole, spreading her cloth over it, and sat down in the middle, hugging her knees. "Ready," she said.
The lizard moved languidly over to small hole in the wall, curving its spine painfully so that its front claws were curled around the mesh of the rock instead of digging into the base of the wall where its lower back and tail were still spread. The lizard drew in a great breath and blew a torrent of steam into the hole before it. Out of sight of both the girl and the monster, the steam travelled through the tunnels and pipes formed by the rock, whistling and ringing as air simmered in the cavern, before it erupted with its full force below the shimmering gold bottom of the calabash, and the wind was knocked out of the girl as she felt herself carried far above the realm of the monsters.
The white plume that erupted against the island was too far away to be seen by the wayfinders of Motonui. Yet, the island was there, a dash of green growing steadily on the horizon, and beneath the warm rays of the sun, the canoes of the voyagers moved straight toward it.
From the place where she stood securing the ropes of the mast, Sina gazed at the island before turning her attention to her daughter, her knees and back bent over the purple web of the net clutched in her fists. Several others stood in a half-ring around her, all of them working together to hoist up the net, and though Sina couldn't see her daughter's face behind her windswept hair, she could clearly hear her voice, and she knew the others were listening, too.
"They called him Te Tuna," said Moana, "and before long his name was feared on every island. Rumors spread quickly of the monstrous eel that devoured anything that came near, and the fishermen were soon afraid to travel, for they knew that any unlucky boat that strayed over the current where he lived was doomed. Te Tuna's appetite could never be slaked-"
"What's 'slaked' mean?" a young voice chimed in.
Moana didn't turn around, but took the interruption as a chance to catch her breath. Some of the group around her exchanged smiles over the lack of tact of the three children who sat in the shade, watching the others' work.
"It means he was always hungry," Moana finally explained.
"Anyway…" Moana wiped her brow with the back of her wrist as the weight at the bottom of the net finally thudded onto the deck. A shimmering multitude of fish flapped and clattered beneath the blanket of the net. Moana whistled as she looked over it. "What a haul!" she exclaimed.
Tui chuckled form his place beside her. "As if we expected any different. The nets you pull in always seem to have the most fish, Moana."
Moana grinned. "Oh, do you think so?"
"The story, Moana," the boy behind her coaxed.
"Right. Sorry." Moana stepped backward, kicking the net off her feet as the rest of the group began to carry away the fish. She pivoted on the deck and sat cross-legged in front of the children, who leaned forward with their hands in their laps.
"Like I was saying," she said, "his appetite could never be slaked, you see, because as big as he was, he felt he wasn't nearly big enough. His deepest desire was to grow large enough to swallow the moon in the sky, and he needed to eat constantly to make that happen."
"Why couldn't he eat the moon?" the youngest, a girl, asked. "The moon is so tiny."
The boy, who was the oldest, rolled his eyes. "It only looks tiny because it's far away, right Chief Moana?"
Moana nodded. "That's right, Anewa," she said. "The moon is enormous, like an island onto itself, and on top of that, as long as Te Tuna is, he wasn't nearly long enough to reach the moon. So, he decided to gobble up as many humans as he could until he at last had enough to pluck the moon from the sky so that its light would always be inside him."
"How come he wanted to eat humans? They're not very big," asked the older girl in the group.
"Well, Te Tuna hated humanity, but more than that, humans possess more mana that other creatures, so by devouring them, Te Tuna hoped he could accumulate their power into himself."
"What did he hate humans for?" asked Anewa.
"Um…" Here was a new snag. Maui had never actually told her the reason. "I don't know," she finally admitted. "He just did."
"Anewa!" scolded one of the women from above her cutting board. "It's rude to keep interrupting like that, you know."
Anewa hung his head. "Sorry, Mom," he said.
"Oh, I don't mind!" said Moana, struggling to recover. "So, uh, nobody ever saw Te Tuna coming because he hid in depths too far for the light to reach through even the clearest water. But though they could never see him, he could always see them. He watched for the dark shadows where the bottoms of the canoes blocked the sun's rays, and with a flick of his tail-"
"Chief, the pig!" someone called behind her.
"What?" Moana turned her head toward the man who had called.
"The pig!" he pointed just behind her. Moana whirled, pushing herself up on one arm, and saw Pua nosing eagerly at one of the fish still flopping beneath the net. "Pua!" Moana scolded. Pua's broad ears immediately flattened against his head as he stared up at Moana with a clear expression of guilt. Moana grinned and nudged the pig away with one hand as she lifted up the fish.
"Not for you, Pua. We've been over this," she said. "You already had breakfast." She held out the fish, tracked closely by the pig's doleful eyes, as her mother took it smilingly. "Okay!" Moana flopped back down in front of the children, smiling brightly, but her smile soon dropped away. "Er… Where was I again?"
"With a flick of his tail," Sina recited gently.
"Right!" Moana straightened. "With a flick of his tail, Te Tuna upturned the unfortunate boats who crossed his path, dumping the men within into the water. Not even the most powerful swimmer can out swim a fish, and the men were helpless to escape the eel's teeth."
Moana cheerfully clamped her teeth together to demonstrate. The children eyed the water nervously. "That couldn't happen to us, could it?" the older girl asked.
"Of course not, Poema," said Moana soothingly. "Te Tuna's gone forever." Her expression became sly. "Does anyone know why?"
The youngest girl's face brightened. "Maui!" she called happily.
Moana chuckled. "That's right, Kanalei," she said. "Maui came, sailing over the waves in the form of a hawk. The gods had told him where he could find the eel, and he had set off without hesitation to end his menace." Maui had added the adverb "fearlessly" in his own retelling, but Moana chose to skip that word. She felt that "without hesitation" implied that sentiment, anyway.
"But!" Moana held up a finger, "Maui knew that slaying Te Tuna wouldn't be easy, even for him. In the water, Te Tuna had no equal. But Maui had a plan. He appeared to the eel in a form of a small fish, swimming back and forth tantalizingly in front of his face."
Moana fluttered the flat of her hand and swayed her wrist back and forth in the air before her face as she continued. "Even in that form, Te Tuna recognized Maui, and his hunger flared. He knew that if he swallowed the demigod, there would be no one who could stop him."
"He used himself as bait?"
"Sorry!" Anewa called over Moana's head, cringing.
"He sure did!" said Moana. Her expression turned dark as she looked away. "Nice to use himself as bait for once," she muttered.
"Nothing!" Moana's focus snapped back onto the children. "Maui took off through the water, and Te Tuna gave chase, snapping hungrily at the tiny fish. But no matter fast the eel swam or how quickly he lunged, his jaws seemed to always just miss Maui's fluttering tail. Each time the eel missed, it felt close enough that he was certain he would get him on the next try. It was maddening, and by the time Te Tuna reached the island Maui was swimming to, he didn't particularly care if there was enough of the demigod left to eat; he just wanted him dead.
"But, you see, it was exactly this blinding anger that Maui was counting on. If Te Tuna had been in his right mind, perhaps he would have hesitated before following Maui up the wide river that poured from the island into the sea. But he was so concentrated on Maui, he didn't notice the river growing narrower and narrower as the pair swam past the channels that widened it, and even when the banks of the river pressed against his flanks, he still didn't slow down until he suddenly stopped so hard his teeth rattled in his head. He tried to turn furiously to see what had caught him, but he couldn't, for the banks of the river had his head clamped in place. Te Tuna soon realized that he was stuck, like a fat fish in a trap."
Moana pushed the heels of her hands into her cheeks until her lips stuck out, and the children fell into heaps of giggling over the image of the fat eel wedged stupidly in the narrow river.
"Maui turned back into his true form," she continued, "and stood beneath the stream of the waterfall that fed this branch of the river, which was currently pouring over Te Tuna's enormous head. Maui smiled at the eel, dug his magic fish hook into the rocks at the base of the waterfall, and with one motion, pulled them out. It support gone, the cliff over which the waterfall flowed collapsed, and Te Tuna could do nothing but watch helplessly as the wall of earth fell on top of him, burying him alive."
Moana's audience cheered, and she was puzzled to hear that one of the cheers came from behind her. She turned and stared at the teenage boy pumping a bone knife in the air. He soon noticed the amused stares of Moana and all the people around him and awkwardly returned to his work of cleaning the fish.
Moana turned back to the children. "After several days," she said, "Maui flew over the spot where the eel had been buried and noticed an enormous tree growing out of the earth that had been softened by the water below. Maui approached curiously and noticed a crop of fruit growing from the tree, unlike any he'd ever seen before. He plucked the fruit, cracked it open, and found that it was full of water as sweet as nectar. He decided to share this fruit with the humans he'd saved, and that fruit-" Moana reached to pick up the fruit that Pua was nudging her way and lifted it up dramatically. "Was the coconut. And thus, it was from the eel's death that coconuts came to be."
"Um, the end," she finished after a pause.
The children were frowning at her as though deep in concentration. Kanalei reached for the coconut and sat it in her lap.
"Are you sure that's where coconuts come from?" asked Anewa.
"What?" Moana blinked. "Of course. Why would I lie to you?"
"I don't know. It's just weird," Anewa went on. "What do coconuts have to do with eels?"
Moana stared. None of the adults she'd told this story to had interrogated her like this. "Well, look here." She took the coconut from Kanalei's lap and rotated it until its three eyes faced the children.
"See?" she said gesturing. "There are three those three little spots on the shell, right? Those are the eel's face. See, there are the eyes, and that's the mouth."
The children's brows furrowed.
"It doesn't look like an eel," said Poema.
"What?" exclaimed Moana.
"No, she's got a point."
Moana started and looked over to see the same teenager from before crouching next to her with his finger curled over his chin. "Eel mouths are wider," he said thoughtfully, "and their eyes are on the sides of their head."
"It looks more like a guy whistling," said Anewa.
"Yeah!" the other three nodded in agreement.
Moana groaned and handed the coconut over to the boy beside her, who continued to study it closely. "Look, I don't know why the coconuts don't look like eel heads despite being eel heads. I'm just telling you what Maui told me, alright?"
Poema's eyes suddenly grew wide. "Hey!" she said. "If coconuts are really eel heads, then that means every time you drink from a coconut, you're putting your mouth on an eel!"
"Ew!" Kanalei scrunched her face in disgust.
"Okay." Moana clapped her hands on her knees. "Story time's over." She rose to her feet and began to move away, but before long all three children were trailing after her.
"Hey, Chief Moana?" Anewa shouted unnecessarily loudly, "those Kakamora guys wore coconuts, right? Were they eels, too?"
"Oh." Moana furrowed her brow. "You know, I never really thought about it before. They didn't look like eels, but we never saw their faces, so I guess it could be."
"Chief? If… If you planted that crab guy in the ground, would he make a tree?" asked Poema.
"Tamatoa? I don't know. Come to think of it, I never asked Maui what he did with that leg he tore off. Maybe it did make a tree. A gaudy, tacky tree."
"Hey, Maui can turn into anything, right?" Anewa chimed in again.
"What if he, like, turned into an eel the same size as Te Tuna? Then they could have an eel fight!" The boy seemed ecstatic at the though.
At that moment, Sina came to her daughter's rescue. "Alright, kids, that's enough," she said. "The chief's been very kind to give so much time to you today, so I think you ought to thank her, don't you?"
Obediently, the children all turned to Moana. "Thank you, Chief," they all recited in one voice.
Moana smiled. "Anytime," she said.
"Come on, now," said Sina. "Who wants to help cure the fish?"
The accompanying chorus of "Me!" and "I do!" was somehow even more piercing than the calls of the seabirds floating above. Moana watched as one of the men cleaning the fish tossed a small morsel into the air. The bird dropped from where it had been wheeling in the sky and caught the piece in its beak before it hit the water. It flapped its wings impatiently and was soon swinging steadily on the wind above their heads with its treat. Before long, Kanalei was at the side of the people carving, her chores forgotten as she begged to throw scraps of fish to the seagulls.
Moana watched her fondly until she felt a hand press gently on her shoulder. She turned and saw her father smiling down at her. "We didn't see birds like those farther out," he said.
She nodded. "We're getting close."
"You make a fine storyteller, Moana," he went on.
Moana curtly blew out a breath through her lips, realizing too late where she had gotten that tic from. "They didn't seem very impressed," she said.
She jerked her head over to where all three children were now tossing things at the seabirds. There was now such a flurry of scraps sailing in arcs through the air that the birds sometimes missed and were forced to dive into the water after the food.
Tui chuckled. "Trust me. Give it an hour, and they'll be begging you to tell them that story again."
"You think so?"
"Oh, yes. Just like a little girl I used to know."
Moana smirked. "Sounds annoying," she said.
Moana stared as her father grinned down at her. "I'm only teasing," said Tui gently. "Honestly, I preferred when you were badgering us for a story because then I knew you hadn't run off to the beach again."
Moana cringed and looked away, the back of her neck burning with memories of her impulsive childhood. No matter what her father said, she knew that, if nothing else, must have annoyed him, and she was ashamed to think of how she had once thought of her parents as the enemy, constantly yanking her from where she wanted to be, boring her with talk of realities that seemed much less pressing than that of the rhythmic sigh of the water as it touched the shore…
Tui's voice interrupted her trail of thought. "Of course," he said, "if I had known where it would lead, I wouldn't have minded."
Moana dropped her eyes. "You might still have," she said. "Mom told me about-"
"I know," Tui interrupted. "It's alright."
Which was a lie, Moana knew, but it was as alright as it could ever be, and that at least was the truth.
"You know, when I saw you sitting with those children and telling those old legends," her father went on, "it reminded me of your grandmother."
Moana wiped her eyes. "Thanks, Dad," she said.
"Yeah, it was a wonderful story, Moana!" called Anewa's mother, who had apparently only heard half of what they'd said. Moana and Tui both jumped slightly, abruptly dragged out of their soft reminisces by the overly cheerful voice of the woman was still staring at Moana with an eager expression. "But, you know, I can't help thinking it would be even better if we could hear Maui himself tell it!"
The entire boat was quickly filled with calls of people happily shouting their agreement, and even a few of the voyagers on the smaller canoes nearby looked up excitedly after hearing the woman's suggestion.
Moana's heart sank. This was her least favorite subject, and somehow the good cheer that arose every time it was brought up only made it worse. "Oh," she said, "I'm sorry, but I don't think that's going to happen any time soon."
Moana turned to face her father. The expression on his face was almost sad. "I'd like to meet him. After all, we owe him a great deal."
"Yeah. I know." Moana turned to face the rest of the boat, and the wayfinders on the smaller boats who were straining to catch every word. "And I've invited him to meet all of you over and over, but he keeps saying he doesn't want to."
"Why not?" repeated someone from one of the canoes.
"I don't know!" Moana shouted frantically.
"I'm sorry, Mom, but I really don't!" Abruptly, Moana's words were pouring out of her so fast she was scarcely comprehending them. "I keep asking him, and he says he's not sure! And I'm like, 'What do you mean you're not sure?' And then he says, 'It's weird!' And then he just stops talking, and then we just sit there in silence for a few minutes, and I'm like, 'What?' and he's like, 'What?" and it's honestly bordering on rude at this point, and-!"
Moana stopped as she felt a gentle tug on her skirt. She looked down and saw Kanalei peering up at her sadly. "Doesn't Maui like us?" she asked quietly.
Moana's face became stricken. She dropped to her knees and put her hands on the shoulders of the girl. "No, no, Kanalei, I'm positive that's not it. Of course he likes us, it's just-"
But here Moana stopped, as she always had to, for she did not know the end of that sentence. It's just… what? Maui never said. And so she had no explanation to give them, except for the one they were already forming in their heads, the one given voice by this lone little girl.
So, just for now, she decided to make one up.
"Well, he spent a long time trapped on that island all by himself. And after spending a thousand years with no human company, he feels kind of shy."
Kanalei looked forlorn. "But he fought an eel," she muttered.
Yes, and so much more. Moana remembered the sound of his haka as it rang like a drum over the still water that reflected the fiery face of Te Ka. Maui, who took on Te Kawith a shattered hook, who faced her full wrath bearing down on him without any hook at all. "I got your back, chosen one!" And now…
"Some things are scary for different reasons," Moana said, "And some reasons are harder to face than others."
Kanalei frowned. "I don't get it," she said.
"Well, let me put it this way," Moana offered. "Were you scared by Te Tuna?"
The girl nodded. "Yeah," she said.
"And is it scary when your mom is mad at you?"
Some people laughed. The girl's eyes shifted briefly to the side before she nodded again. "Yeah."
"Are Te Tuna and your mom scary for the same reason?"
The laughter grew louder, but Kanalei's eyes widened in comprehension. "Ohhh," she said. "I get it now."
"Good." Moana pressed her nose to the girl's.
"Chief?" she said.
Kanalei pulled back. "Next time you see Maui, can you tell him not to be scared?"
Moana blinked then smiled sadly. "Sure, I'll tell him."
"Okay." The girl seemed satisfied and moved away. The rest of the voyagers returned to what they were doing, though the looks on their faces told Moana they weren't as easily appeased.
Moana sighed and looked up toward the the circling birds bisecting the sun's rays with their narrow wings. The white wings narrow as the heads of spears were tipped with black as though dipped in charcoal. The continued to cry to one another, evidently displeased by the sudden shortage of fish parts now flying their way. As Moana gazed, she suddenly started. One of the birds directly overhead flapped wings which seemed to end not in the formless splash of black but in a curved marking that looked almost like a fishhook. Moana looked around wildly to see if anyone had noticed, but no one was looking at the birds anymore, and when Moana raised her eyes again, she couldn't see a bird like that anywhere. Either it had moved away, or it had never been there at all.
Moana frowned, unimpressed. Whatever Maui was running from, he couldn't run forever. Sooner or later, he'd have to own up. With this thought, she turned her attention back to the horizon and the quickly approaching island.
I promised a Moana fan fic on my Tumblr, so here it is. I meant to upload it Friday night, but instead its getting uploaded on Saturday morning! Ah ha ha ha! AHA HA HA HA HA HA HA! *spirals into madness*
Those of you who were excited to get a Tamatoa fan fic may have been disappointed that he doesn't actually appear in this chapter. But don't you worry, he'll show up soon enough.
A calabash, for those who don't know, is a large, Hawaiian serving bowl, usually made of wood. The word can also refer to a kind of gourd or something, but that's not how it's being used here.
The name Pilifeai originates, as you might have guessed, from the book The Story of Moana: A Tale of Courage and Adventure, a children's chapter book that doubles as both a novelization of the film and a collection of folk tales. It turns out dear Pilifeai has already appeared in a number of fan fics and even has fan art based off of him. Why am I not surprised. My portrayal of him doesn't 100% jibe with that in the book, but whatever. I find green scales much more tasteful than red.
Speaking off, the story of the eel in the same book also directly contradicts Moana's account of it here. But a lot of things happened in the book which aren't canon to the movie, so I've chosen to ignore them. You can't stop me.
Nah nah nah nah nah.
The song Moana was singing at the beginning of the story is the Samoan part of "We Know the Way." Not that it really makes a difference. You can imagine her singing "Ring of Keys" if you want, I don't care.
Reviews are always welcome! Keep watching the seas!