Chapter 17 - Boy, This Crew Sure Likes to Party

“So, I guess it’s time to get underway,” Viselys said, stretching in the morning light.

“I don’t think so,” Adameus replied. “Double check with Lavinia, but she told me she wanted to spend one more day on the island before setting sail. Something about a long journey ahead with no land in sight until we reach our destination.”

Viselys furrowed his brow slightly but didn’t respond as he strolled away. No doubt he was going to confirm with Lavinia, Adameus thought.

Diamondback moved to follow Viselys, but Adameus caught her arm, “Tara, wait. Would you mind taking a walk with me?” She had learned months ago to trust him in spite of his secretive nature. Whatever was on his mind, it wouldn’t be nefarious, and he would explain in due time.

After they were away from others, Diamondback asked, “So, what did you want to talk to me about?” She found herself whispering unnecessarily.

Though he did not respond in a whisper, he did keep his voice intimate in volume, “Oh, nothing. It’s just that, if you are going to oversee the particulars of the celebration, I think you should be with me when I speak to Chief Ixawhani.”

They arrived at the Longhouse and addressed the same guard that Adameus approached the previous day. Events unfolded as they had previously, except that the majordomo was far more pleasant and ushered the two inside straightaway.

“Adameus the Storyteller! I am so glad you have returned,” the chief greeted with a jovial voice. “And whom do we have here?”

“Chief Ixawhani, allow me to introduce you to Diamondback, one of my companions.” She curtsied very gracefully.

“And what a lovely flower she is,” the chief replied. “Tell me, friend, what brings you back here? Not that your company isn’t welcome.”

“You are very kind, thank you. The reason I have come is twofold. First, I wanted to inform you that, although our business transactions are complete and our supplies are fully stocked, we have decided to remain one more day.”

“Stay as long as you wish,” Chief Ixawhani repeated his offer of the previous day.

“Your grace is appreciated. However, the second reason for my visit explains the first. Viselys, whom I have told you about, is celebrating the anniversary of his birth today. Well, rather, we will be celebrating in his honor. It was our hope to do so in the style of your people. However, we are completely ignorant what that entails and wanted to beg your guidance.”

Chief Ixawhani chortled, “Guidance?! I will host a traditional luau to honor your friend!”

“Again I am humbled by your kindness,” Adameus nodded. “I, myself, have other duties to attend to, but I’ve asked Diamondback to oversee the specifics, which is why I have brought her with me.”

The chief looked to Diamondback and back to Adameus, “You trust her to represent you?” Clearly he had not forgotten his encounter with Avner, the only other member of the expedition he had met.

“Implicitly. Diamondback represents the best of us.” From the corner of his eye, he saw her bow her head in humility.

“Excellent! Diamondback, I will introduce you to my wife, Miramani. They will see to the arrangements.”

With that, Adameus took his leave to update Lavinia. He found her on the Nixie double checking the inventory in the ship’s hold.

“I have just spoken to Chief Ixawhani and his wife is working out the details of the celebration with Diamondback. I’d like to distance myself from it as much as possible.”

She checked off something on a sheet of paper before putting it down to turn her attention to him, “I understand. I will tell the crew that the chief whishes to host a farewell celebration for us. This way, when Viselys arrives, he will be surprised that the festivities are really in his honor. It was a wonderful idea. I really wish you would permit me to give you credit when the time comes.”

“I don’t deserve any credit. Besides, I don’t want him to think I have some hidden agenda. I will be content if he feels honored and encouraged on his birthday.”

Lavinia smiled at him, “You are a good and kind man, mud-bespeckled though you may be.”

Adameus blushed, in spite of himself.

“I also wanted to commend you on how you took care of the embarrassing situation that Avner created. I have to say that I am impressed. I never would have guessed that the chief would not only forgive the matter, but would be hosting a celebration for us today.”

Adameus wanted to grin, but he stifled it, “I like to think I have a way with words. Sometimes I can convince others of it, too. Even the noble ones.” If Lavinia caught the dig, she gave no indication. “However, that Avner thing could still be a problem. If you are telling the crew that this is a farewell party for all of us, he’ll insist on attending. That would be … very bad.”

“I will take care of that.” Her words sounded so self-assured that Adameus did not even think to question. Then she changed the subject, “Although we will remain here today for Viselys’ birthday, I want to launch tonight. I’ve already instructed both ships’ captains that their crews are not to make overly merry.”

Adameus was a bit disappointed, but he didn’t give it voice, “I understand. You will save me a dance?”

Lavinia picked her list and quill back up as she prepared to return to the inventory, “Perhaps. It is Viselys’ party, after all.”

Adameus felt another sucker punch to the gut. He was almost getting used to it. “Of course. I appreciate you encouraging my brother.” He turned away and started up the stairs, “It’s very noble of you.” He quickened his pace to insure she could not respond … and so she would not see the tear escaping his eye.

* * * * *

By midday, the pigs were roasting in the ground and people were beginning to congregate in the area prepared by Miramani and Diamondback. Flowers were hung in decorative fashion. Torches burned on poles around the perimeter, though their light was not needed. Chief Ixawhani sat in a central location under a tent of palm leaves with Miramini at his side.

Some people were walking around with half coconut shells filled with a sweet, pudding-like dish made with bananas, papaya, or mangoes cooked with manioc and coconut cream that the natives called po’e. Others carried hollowed out pineapples from which they drank beverages with any combination of rum, agaves liquor, and fruit juices.

The chief clapped his hands once, loudly, to get everyone’s attention, “Thank you all for coming. As you know, we are celebrating the heroic Viselys’ birthday today. When he arrives, I will clap once and everyone will say: ‘Hau’oli La Hanau!’ which means ‘Happy Birthday!’ Try it.” The chief clapped once and everyone said the phrase with varying degrees of success. “Very good. Get ready, he should be here at any moment.”

The crowd did not have long to wait as Viselys arrived with Lavinia on his arm. As rehearsed, on cue, everyone enthusiastically shouted ‘Hau’oli La Hanau!’

Viselys stopped short when he realized every eye was on him. He turned to Lavnina, “What’s all this, then?”

She just smiled, “Happy Birthday, Viselys,” and gave him a kiss on the cheek.

With another clap, drums started beating out a furious beat and several bare-chested men began a tribal dance that included deep squats and tumbling, accented with loud grunts and claps in unison. Two beautiful native girls in grass skirts approached Viselys; one placed a necklace of flowers over his head, and the other handed him one of the pineapple drinks.

“How did you know?” Viselys asked Lavinia.

“Oh, somebody told me,” she smiled coyly.

Then Viselys noticed Diamondback approaching in the pink dress he had bought her the day before. She was emerging from the crowd and, for a moment, everyone else seemed to melt away. She approached with more grace than he had ever before observed in a human being. Her smile lit up the day like a second sun. It really took his breath away.

“Tara, you look…” he couldn’t find the word.

“Thank you,” she curtsied. “This dress you gave me is so beautiful. Thank you so much. I feel like a princess.”

Viselys was still finding it hard to find his words. “You’re welcome,” was all he could come up with, and his voice cracked as he said it.

“Happy Birthday,” she said and stood on her toes to reach his cheek with her lips.”

Becoming aware that Lavinia was giving him a sideways look, Viselys could feel his face burning.

There was much music and dancing. The shadows were growing long as they pulled the pigs up out of the ground and the dancers switched to a new dance that involved flaming batons.

As the meat was being carved, Viselys approached Chief Ixawhani, “I wanted to thank you for this party, chief. I am honored.”

“From what I hear, Viselys, you are a hero deserving of honor!” the chief replied.

“What you’ve heard? From whom? I had been wondering how you knew it was my birthday. I had actually forgotten myself.”

The Chief smiled, “Your friend told me. He speaks very highly of you.”

Viselys was genuinely confused, “Which ‘friend’?”

Ixawhani looked surprised he did not know, “Why, Adameus the Storyteller! He’s told me all about your adventures together, and even about your heroism as a guardsman in Sasserine.”

“Well, again, I thank you very much,” he said, even more confused than he had been before. He did not have an opportunity to question the chief further, as he was being ushered to a seat of honor and was the first to be served.

After everyone had been served, Chief Ixawhani bade them to continue eating while he shared, second hand, some of the stories he had heard about Viselys. They were slightly exaggerated, but Viselys was shocked by what the chief knew – and how anyone else knew the stories he shared regarding times before he’d met anyone in attendance that day.

After dinner, Miranda took the space where the men had been dancing. She stood with her guitar and addressed the crowd. “Friends, I know we have come to celebrate Viselys Mortaum, and he certainly is deserving of honor. Happy Birthday, Viselys! However, there is one among us today who is also deserving of accolades. I did not write either this song or the music. The music is from a song about another brave hero, but the words have been rewritten by Adameus Shadowboren. I asked him to sing the song for you today, but he rejected me, so I would like to perform for all of you ‘The Ballad of Saris Van Sky.’

Everyone loved the song. Miranda had an exceptional voice. The lyrics were rousing and only those closes to Saris recognized their tongue-in-cheek intentions. Saris, for his part, if he recognized any jest, he did not show an indication.

The sun had fully set by the time the festivities drew to a close. The chief bid a final birthday blessing to Viselys and bade everyone farewell and a safe journey.

When the party arrived back at the shore, they were mildly surprised to see that the crew was already there, making ready to launch. Due to the darkness, only the lights from the torches and fire pits connoted from where they had come and as they cast off, those lights quickly blended into a single point. The sky was clear, the stars were out, and as it always was on Viselys’ birthday, a full moon lit up the night. For the first time since leaving Sasserine, they would soon be out of sight of land.

Continue to Chapter 18...

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License