Story

Hawai’i’s Colorful History

Hawaii is a land of historically epic beauty. It is a timeless land.in Prehistory, the nature in Hawaii was completely untouched by humans and only lost birds and plants inhabited the island chain. Hawaii is a very young cluster of islands with a very short terrestrial history; the oldest islands were formed five to six million years ago and is unusual because it is a hotspot far away from the tectonic plate boundary (~2,000 miles away). Hawaii is the world’s youngest island chain!

The early history of the settlement of the Hawaiian Islands is relatively unknown, but by combining myth, logic, and the current scientific analyses we can get a good idea of how the island populations evolved and migrated and also how plant and animals species developed and assimilated alongside humans. Hawaii’s modern identity is a reflection of this unique, layered, and multifaceted history. Shaped by colonization and assimilation into the Western European cultures and the United States, Hawaii is a unique blend of native and invasive species, and layers of settlement of Polynesians, westerners, and labor forces from around the world.

Polynesian Mythology of Hawaii

The Polynesian’s have a rich mythology surrounding the formation and settlement of the islands of Hawaii, but it is important to note that these myths evolved over time and were heavily influenced by the arrival of Christianity in the 18th century. The history of the evolution of Hawaii is truly fascinating, matched only by their mythological evolution. Hawaiians have a pantheon of gods and goddesses, but the some of major deities are Kane, Kanaloa, Lono, Ku, Maui, and Pele. Hawaiian mythology also focused heavily on mana, or the interconnection between all beings and the natural world, similar to the concept of a ‘holy spirit’.

Kane Tiki Statue

The primary creation myth involves Kane Milohai is the god of creation. Kane is associated with the sun, fresh water, agriculture, forests, and procreation. His origin story is part of the best known creation myth, the Kumulipo chant, where the primordial first beings known as the Po’ele emerged from darkness to create other beings and gods; the world was created gradually, starting with the most basic of organisms and moved onto more complexity with insects, animals, birds, and eventually humans. In the myth, Kane and Kamala descended from the heavens to create and this led to the separation between the Earth and the sky or Papa and Wakea. It represents the division between the divine masculine and feminine and the creation of fertile ground where life could flourish. Kane is not only the creator god, but represents Hawaiian values, especially fertility.

Maui Depiction

Another creation myth involves Maui, known for his strength and supernatural abilities. One day, Maui set out on a fishing expedition with his brothers. They cast their lines into the ocean, but Maui’s line, baited with a sacred bird, got caught on something unimaginably massive beneath the water. As Maui and his brothers struggled to reel in their catch, it became apparent that they had hooked the land itself. With his incredible strength, Maui transformed into a giant and exerted all his power to pull up the land from the ocean depths. The land rose out of the water, and as Maui’s efforts continued, the individual Hawaiian Islands began to take shape. As the islands emerged, Maui used his knowledge of the natural world to shape and mold them, creating the mountains, valleys, and lush landscapes that make up the Hawaiian archipelago. He also shaped the rivers and waterways, ensuring that life could flourish on the newly formed islands.

Pele

A final example of the beautiful Hawaiian cultural myth is the story of Pele, who is said to have created the Hawaiian Islands. Halemaʻumaʻu in the Kilauea volcano on the island of Hawaii is where she is known to reside and is the goddess of volcanos and fire. Many Hawaiians believe that there is a family of gods that inhabit Kilauea and Pele is one of the sisters that controls the flow of lava. Legend told that Pele herself journeyed on her canoe from the island of Tahiti to Hawaiʻi. When on her journey to Hawaii from Tahiti, it was said she tried to create her fires on different islands, but her sister, Nāmaka, was chasing her, wanting to put an end to her. In the end, the two sisters fought each other and Pele was killed. With this happening, her body was destroyed but her spirit lives in Halemaʻumaʻu on Kilauea. They say, “Her body is the lava and steam that comes from the volcano. She can also change form, appearing as a white dog, old woman, or beautiful young woman.”

The gods each had specific roles in the creation and maintenance of the world. Lono was one of the original gods of the universe and was known as the god of music, peace, and agriculture and would bring rain during the 4 month rainy season which was also a season of peace for Hawaiians. Ku was a feather god that demanded human sacrifice and represented war, politics, and sorcery. Kanaloa is a squid or octopus goddess that complimented Kane and was considered the counter-opposite to the creator-sun god, representing shadow, underworld, magic, and the ocean.

Menehune,

In myth, the Polynesian’s were not the first islanders. The Menehune are a mythical race of dwarves, or little people, that were believed to be responsible for many of the various ancient structures on Hawaii. While the Menehune are generally considered benevolent beings, they are also known for their mischievous behavior. According to legends, the Menehune live in remote and hidden areas of the Hawaiian Islands, such as deep in the forests or in secluded valleys. These secretive locations are believed to be the reason why they are rarely seen by humans. They are said to play tricks on humans, sometimes helping them and at other times causing disruptions, sometimes shooting arrows to cause people to fall in love. The Menehune are renowned for their skill in construction and craftsmanship and are said to have built various structures, such as fishponds, temples, and houses, that were considered too advanced for the time. These feats of engineering have often been attributed to the Menehune’s supernatural abilities. There is ongoing debate among scholars about the origin and authenticity of the Menehune legends. Some believe that the Menehune are purely mythical, while others suggest they might be based on stories of indigenous peoples who inhabited the islands before the arrival of Polynesians.

600 year old petroglyphs on Maui

Unrecorded Histories of Hawaii

The first people known to have settle Hawaii were Polynesian, likely from the Marquesas Islands which were colonized by Polynesians around 800 AD. Islanders from Tahiti then arrived in Hawaii in a second wave, about 200 years later. The Kapu system was thus developed in a strict social hierarchy in Hawaiian society. At the top were the ali’i (nobility), followed by the kahuna (priests), maka’ainana (commoners), and kauwa (outcasts or slaves). Each group had specific rules and obligations, and there was little mobility between classes.

With them, polynesian settlers brought coconuts, bananas, taro, sweet potato, and breadfruit. They also brought and raised pigs, chicken, dogs, and the pacific rat.

Archaeologists believe that the settlers began arriving on the southern end of the big island of Hawaii and travelled northwards to colonize the rest of the islands. It is estimated that before European settlers arrived, there was close to a million inhabitants of the islands.

Hawaiian Villages

A typical Hawaiian city included many buildings:

  • Heiau, temple to the gods
  • Hale aliʻi, the house of the chief
  • Hale pahu, the house of the sacred hula instruments
  • Hale papaʻa, the house of royal storage
  • Hale ulana, the house of the weaver
  • Hale mua, the men’s eating house
  • Hale ʻaina, the women’s eating house
  • Hale waʻa, the house of the canoe
  • Hale lawaiʻa, the house of fishing
  • Hale noho, the living house
  • Imu, the communal earth oven

The Hawaiians believed that the earth belonged to the gods; one does not own land. However, the Ali’i were managers of the land; when chiefs would die, dwellings and lands would change hands between managers.

The Kapu System

“Ancient Hawaiʻi was a caste society developed from Polynesians.” A Tahitian priest named Pā‘ao is said to have brought a new order to the islands around 1200. The new order included new laws and a new social structure that separated the people into classes. The aliʻi nui was the king, with his ʻaha kuhina just below them; the makaʻāinana (commoners) next with the kauā below them as the lowest ranking social caste.

There were several classes in the Kapu caste system:

  • the Ali’i
  • Kahuna
  • Maka’ainana
  • Kauwa

The rigidity of the kapu system might have come from a second wave of migrations in 1000–1300 from which different religions and systems were shared between Hawaiʻi and the Society Islands. Hawaiʻi would have been influenced by the Tahitian chiefs, the kapu system would have become stricter, and the social structure would have changed. Human sacrifice would have become a part of their new religious observance, and the aliʻi would have gained more power over the counsel of experts on the islands.

Ali’i were the traditional nobility of the Hawaiian Islands that were organized in a feudal way. There were eleven classes of Ali’i including ruling chiefs, prominent kahunas, advisors, and priests. Aliʻi nui were supreme ruling chiefs of the main islands, but there were several other types of chiefs with specific taboos.

The Kahuna was a wise person, or shaman, but the term really means a subject matter expert. Forty types of kahuna are listed in the book Tales from the Night Rainbow, including Hula Kahunas (hula dances included storytelling), Kahuna La’au Lapa’au (doctors and healers), and Kahuna Kilo (prophets).

The Maka’ainana were simply commoners and were subject to the taboos and rules of the Ali’i.

The Kauwa was a broad and demeaning term to describe the class of slaves, outcasts, and servants to the Ali’i. (I’ve previously written a long and extensive article of the negative aspects of the Hindu caste system, which you might find interesting.)

Hawaii-History6
Cook depicted in a Nathaniel Dance-Hollandportrait, c. 1775

The Arrival of James Cook and Historical Records

Hawaii was isolated from the rest of the world for over 500 years until James Cook arrived from Britain in 1778. Cook arrived in Kaua’i in Waimea, Hawaii in 1778 and named the group of islands the sandwich islands, after the earl of sandwich (for whom sandwich were also named). Cook continued to travel around North America, then returned to the islands to restock his supplies.

in January 1779 Cook anchored in Kealakekua Bay after about 8 weeks of circling the islands; during Makahiki, the Hawaiian new year and harvest festival devoted to the god Lono. Coincidentally the form of Cook’s ship, HMS Resolution, or more particularly the mast formation, sails and rigging, resembled certain significant artifacts that formed part of the season of worship.[4][62]

Similarly, Cook’s clockwise route around the island of Hawaii before making landfall resembled the processions that took place in a clockwise direction around the island during the Lono festivals. It has been argued (most extensively by Marshall Sahlins) that such coincidences were the reasons for Cook’s (and to a limited extent, his crew’s) initial deification by some Hawaiians who treated Cook as an incarnation of Lono.[63]

After a month of exploiting his status as a deity, Cook left the Hawaiian islands only to have foremast broken. He returned to the islands to a tense atmosphere of questioning Hawaiians after a crew member of the HMS Resolution died; obviously the Hawaiians questioned how a deity could die. Cook also stole wood from a burial site. In the night of February 13th, an unknown group of Hawaiians stole one of the two longboats of the Resolution. The Hawaiians had become “insolent” so Cook’s obvious response was to kidnap and ransom the King of Hawaii, Kalaniʻōpuʻu.

On 14 February 1779, Cook marched through the village to retrieve the king. Cook took the king (aliʻi nui) by his own hand and led him away. One of Kalaniʻōpuʻu’s favourite wives, Kanekapolei, and two chiefs approached the group as they were heading to the boats. They pleaded with the king not to go. An old kahuna (priest), chanting rapidly while holding out a coconut, attempted to distract Cook and his men as a large crowd began to form at the shore. At this point, the king began to understand that Cook was his enemy.[66][failed verification] As Cook turned his back to help launch the boats, he was struck on the head by the villagers and then stabbed to death as he fell on his face in the surf.[67] He was first struck on the head with a club by a chief named Kalaimanokahoʻowaha or Kanaʻina (namesake of Charles Kana’ina) and then stabbed by one of the king’s attendants, Nuaa.[68][69] The Hawaiians carried his body away towards the back of the town, still visible to the ship through their spyglass. Four marines, Corporal James Thomas, Private Theophilus Hinks, Private Thomas Fatchett and Private John Allen, were also killed and two others were wounded in the confrontation.[68][70]

King Kamehameha I and the Birth of the Kingdom of Hawaii

Kamehameha was raised in the royal Hawaiian court and was given the prominent religious position as guardian of the Hawaiian god of war. He rose to higher prominence from several religious rituals and gained the support of 5 Kona chieftains and two uncles who bypassed the throne for their nephews, Kamehameha and Kīwalaʻō (who was to be the next great chief). Kīwalaʻō’s half brother received no land nor title and took out his rage on Kamehameha. The Battle of Mokuʻōhai ensued in 1782; the battleground was just to the south of Kealakekua Bay during which Kīwalaʻō was knocked down by a sling stone, and the injured Kameʻeiamoku was able to slit his throat with a shark-tooth dagger. Kamahameha recovered Kīwalaʻō feather cloak giving Kamehameha religious, political, and divine authority in the eyes of Hawaiians. This is known as a key turning point in Hawaii’s history and marks the beginning of the unification of the islands.

In 1790 Kamehameha’s army invaded Maui with the assistance of John Young and Isaac Davis. Using cannons from the Fair American, they defeated Maui’s army led by Kalanikūpule at the bloody Battle of Kepaniwai while the aliʻi Kahekili II was on Oahu.

Keōua Kūʻahuʻula, who came to rule the districts of Kaʻū and Puna, took advantage of Kamehameha’s absence in Maui and began raiding the west coast of Hawaii. He also advanced against the district of Hilo, deposing his uncle Keawemaʻuhili.[28][26] When Kamehameha returned, Keōua escaped to the Kīlauea volcano, which erupted. Many warriors died from the poisonous gas emitted from the volcano.

When the Puʻukoholā Heiau was completed in 1791, Kamehameha invited Keōua to meet with him. Keōua may have been dispirited by his recent losses. He may have mutilated himself before landing so as to render himself an inappropriate sacrificial victim. As he stepped on shore, one of Kamehameha’s chiefs threw a spear at him. By some accounts, he dodged it but was then cut down by musket fire. Caught by surprise, Keōua’s bodyguards were killed. With Keōua dead, and his supporters captured or slain, Kamehameha became King of Hawaiʻi island.[29]

In 1791, Kahekili and his brother Kāʻeokūlani reconquered Maui and also acquired cannons. In April or May 1791, Kahekili tried to invade the island of Hawaiʻi, but was defeated in a naval battle called Kepuwahaʻulaʻula near Waipiʻo. Kamehameha had to wait for the civil war that broke out in 1793 after the death of Kahekili to finally win control of Maui.[27]

In summer 1795, Kamehameha set sail with an armada of 960 war canoes and 10,000 soldiers. He quickly secured the lightly defended islands of Maui and Molokaʻi at the Battle of Kawela and later Oahu.

The Battle of Nuʻuanu was a fierce and brutal conflict, with warriors on both sides using traditional Hawaiian weapons like spears and clubs, along with firearms and cannons acquired from European contacts. The turning point of the battle occurred when Kamehameha’s forces managed to drive the Oahu warriors to the edge of the cliff. With nowhere to escape, many of the Oahu warriors either jumped off the cliffs to their deaths or were pushed off by Kamehameha’s warriors.

In the spring of 1796, he attempted to continue with his forces to Kauaʻi but he lost many of his canoes in the strong winds and rough seas of the Kaʻieʻie Waho channel. He returned to Hawaii to pacify the rebellion of Nāmakehā (brother of Kaʻiana) in Hilo and ruled from Hawaii for the next six years as he consolidated his conquests and prepare for a second invasion of Kauaʻi.[32] At Hilo, Kamehameha I commissioned the building a large fleet of 800 (according to Kamakau) double-hulled war canoes called peleleu along with Western schooners, and he also stockpile large number of guns, canons and ammunition. He took his peleleu to Maui where he stayed from 1802 to 1803 and then to Oʻahu in late 1803 or early 1804. While in Oʻahu, a large percentage of his force was killed by the maʻi ʻokuʻu epidemic, which was thought to be either cholera or bubonic plague. Kamehameha I contracted the illness but survived. The second invasion of Kauaʻi was postponed.

In April 1810, Kamehameha I negotiated the peaceful unification of the islands with Kauaʻi. He also created a unified legal system and collected taxes to promote trade with Europe and the United States.

After about 1812, Kamehameha returned from Oahu and spent the last years of his life at Kamakahonu, a compound he built in Kailua-Kona.[38][39]

When Kamehameha died on May 8 or 14, 1819,[41][42][43] his body was hidden by his trusted friends, Hoapili and Hoʻolulu, in the ancient custom called hūnākele (literally, “to hide in secret”). The mana, or power of a person, was considered to be sacred. As per the ancient custom, his body was buried in a hidden location because of his mana. His final resting place remains unknown. And yes, Goku’s signature energy attack is named after the Hawaiian king because the creator, Akira Toriyama’s wife suggested it.

Kamehameha I was succeeded by his son, Kamehameha II (Liholiho). Liholiho’s reign was relatively short, marked by his involvement in the abolition of traditional Hawaiian religious practices in favor of Christianity, a decision influenced by the influence of Christian missionaries.

After Kamehameha II’s death in 1824, his younger brother, Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli), ascended the throne. Kamehameha III’s reign was characterized by the formalization of Hawaii’s legal system, the issuance of the Hawaiian Constitution of 1840, and continued efforts to modernize the kingdom’s government and economy.

Kamehameha IV (Alexander Liholiho) succeeded Kamehameha III in 1855. His reign saw further attempts at modernization and political reforms. He also established the Queen’s Medical Center, a prominent medical institution in Hawaii.

Kamehameha V (Lot Kapuāiwa) took the throne in 1863 and is known for his strong and somewhat autocratic rule. He attempted to strengthen the monarchy’s power, although some of his proposed constitutional reforms were not enacted during his lifetime.

After Kamehameha V’s death, King Lunalilo was elected as king by the Hawaiian legislature in 1873. His reign was brief, as he died in 1874 without naming an heir. David Kalākaua, who was elected by the Hawaiian legislature, succeeded Lunalilo. Kalākaua’s reign was marked by the signing of the Reciprocity Treaty with the United States in 1875, which allowed Hawaiian sugar to be exported to the U.S. duty-free. Kalākaua’s sister, Liliʻuokalani, succeeded him in 1891 as the last reigning monarch of Hawaii. Her reign was marked by political tensions and efforts to regain some of the monarchy’s authority that had been eroded over time.

Overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy

The monarchy’s power had been steadily diminishing due to foreign influence, economic interests, and internal political struggles. In 1893, Liliʻuokalani’s attempt to promulgate a new constitution and regain power led to the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy by a group of American and European businessmen and diplomats, with the support of U.S. troops.

Foreign influence dominated the islands because of interests in the islands fertility and ability to produce agriculture. Sugar cane had been introduced to the islands by the Polynesians; European and American merchants established sugar plantations taking advantage of the native Hawaiian workforce and the fertility of the islands. The Kamehameha dynasty was also intrinsic in developing the sugar plantations to promote trade development.

The combination of the growth of christianity and the sugar cane industry led foreign interests to dominate the Hawaiian economy.

On January 20, 1887, the United States began leasing Pearl Harbor. Shortly after, the Hawaiian Patriotic League began the revolution of 1887; they drafted a constitution that greatly lessened the powers of the Hawaiian monarchy and forced the chief, Kalākaua to sign it. In July 1889, there was a small scale rebellion, and Minister Merrill landed Marines to protect Americans; the State Department explicitly approved his action. Kalākaua died in San Francisco on January 20th, 1891.

Liliʻuokalani assumed the throne in the middle of an economic crisis. Her proposed 1893 Constitution would have extended suffrage by reducing some property requirements. It would have disenfranchised many non-citizen Europeans and Americans. The Queen toured several islands on horseback, talking to the people about her ideas and receiving overwhelming support, including a lengthy petition in support of a new constitution. However, when the Queen informed her cabinet of her plans, they withheld their support, uncomfortable with what they expected her opponent’s likely response to be.[153]

Liliʻuokalani’s attempt to promulgate a new constitution on January 14, 1893, was the precipitating event leading to the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii three days later.[154] The conspirators’ stated goals were to depose the queen, overthrow the monarchy, and seek Hawaii’s annexation to the U.S.[155][156] The conspirators were five American, one English and one German national.[157]

The overthrow began on January 17, 1893. While the queen was on house arrest, a military coup took over the capital and intimidate royalist defenders, even though a shot wasn’t fired. This was the effective end of the monarchy.

Between 1893 and 1898 annexation became an increasingly popular idea.

In March 1897, William McKinley, a Republican expansionist, succeeded Democrat Grover Cleveland as U.S. president. He prepared a treaty of annexation but it lacked the needed 2/3 majority in the Senate given Democratic opposition.

McKinley signed the Newlands Resolution annexing Hawaii on July 7, 1898, creating the Territory of Hawaii. On 22 February 1900 the Hawaiian Organic Act established a territorial government. Annexation opponents held that this was illegal, claiming the Queen was the only legitimate ruler. McKinley appointed Sanford B. Dole as territorial governor. The territorial legislature convened for the first time on February 20, 1901. Hawaiians formed the Hawaiian Independent Party, under the leadership of Robert Wilcox, Hawaii’s first congressional delegate.

Sugarcane plantations by this time had grown so large and powerful that the owners dominated the industry of Hawaii and were known as “the big five”. During the Democratic Revolution of 1954, the unions inflicted a decisive blow against the giants, and when the sugar industry declined after Hawaii became a state in 1959, so did each of the Big Five companies. There was also intense competition from overseas, leading to the decline of the Hawaiian sugar industry. The last sugar plantation closed in 2016, ending the sugarcane industry in Hawaii.

The Evolution of Ecology in Hawaii

Born among volcanoes in the north central Pacific about 4 million years ago, the Hawaiian rainforest became assembled from spores of algae, fungi, lichens, bryophytes, ferns and from seeds of about 275 flowering plants that over the millennia evolved into ca. 1000 endemic species. There was a time before human existence on the islands, when only birds and flora lived on the island due to dispersal or migratory patterns over the ocean.

The isolation of the islands resulted in Adaptive Radiation, meaning that a single ancestor gave birds to multitudes of species adapted to the various microclimates and ecologies of the islands. This led to an incredible number of unique species on the islands, also known as endemism.

The Polynesians were the first to introduce various agricultural species and brought with them the first invasive and non-native species present on the islands today. The later European explorers compounded this issue with disease and the introduction of more non-native and invasive species. Only recently have conservation efforts been made to preserve native species and remove invasive ones.

Major Invasive species in Hawaii

Miconia
  • Miconia (Miconia calvescens): Miconia is a highly invasive plant species in Hawaii. It forms dense thickets that outcompete native vegetation and disrupt the natural ecosystem.
  • Coqui Frog (Eleutherodactylus coqui): The coqui frog is a small, nocturnal frog that is native to Puerto Rico but has become invasive in Hawaii. Its loud calls have caused noise pollution and ecological disruption.
  • Little Fire Ant (Wasmannia auropunctata): This invasive ant species has a painful sting and can negatively impact native insect populations. It is a significant nuisance for residents and threatens agriculture.
  • Kahili Ginger (Hedychium gardnerianum): Kahili ginger is an invasive plant that has spread throughout Hawaiian forests. It displaces native species and changes the structure of forest ecosystems.
  • Yellow Ginger (Hedychium flavescens): Yellow ginger, another invasive ginger species, is known for its rapid spread in Hawaii. It can outcompete native plants and alter the composition of natural habitats.
  • Australian Tree Fern (Sphaeropteris cooperi): This invasive fern species can form dense thickets and compete with native vegetation in Hawaii’s forests and understory.
  • Africanized Honeybee (Apis mellifera scutellata): This aggressive strain of honeybee is considered invasive in Hawaii and has had an impact on local bee populations.
  • Christmas Berry (Schinus terebinthifolius): Christmas berry is a small tree with invasive tendencies. It has invaded a variety of habitats in Hawaii, including forests and coastal areas.
  • Feral Pigs (Sus scrofa): Feral pigs are a significant invasive species in Hawaii. They damage native ecosystems by rooting in the soil, uprooting plants, and spreading invasive seeds.
  • Axis Deer (Axis axis): Axis deer were introduced to Hawaii for hunting purposes. They have become invasive and cause damage to agriculture and natural habitats.
  • Strawberry Guava (Psidium cattleianum): Strawberry guava is an invasive plant that forms dense thickets, outcompeting native vegetation.
  • Red-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer): This invasive bird species has established itself in Hawaii, affecting native bird populations and agricultural crops.
  • Invasive Algae (e.g., Gracilaria salicornia and Acanthophora spicifera): Various invasive algae species have proliferated in Hawaii’s coral reefs, impacting native marine life and altering reef ecosystems.

Major Native species Endemic to Hawaii

Hawaiian Goose

Hawaiian Monk Seal (Monachus schauinslandi): The Hawaiian monk seal is one of the world’s most endangered seal species. It is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands and faces threats from human disturbance, entanglement in marine debris, and habitat loss.

Hawaiian Nēnē (Branta sandvicensis): The nēnē, or Hawaiian goose, is the world’s rarest goose and is endemic to Hawaii. It faces threats from habitat destruction, predation, and collisions with vehicles.

Alalā (Corvus hawaiiensis): The ʻalalā, or Hawaiian crow, is critically endangered and is extinct in the wild. Conservation efforts aim to reintroduce captive-bred birds into their native habitat on the Big Island.

Hawaiian Hoary Bat (Lasiurus cinereus semotus): This endemic bat species is threatened by habitat destruction and disturbances, particularly in its roosting sites.

Hawaiian Petrel (Pterodroma sandwichensis): The Hawaiian petrel is a seabird that faces threats from introduced predators and habitat degradation, particularly in its nesting areas.

Hawaiian tree snail

Hawaiian Tree Snails (Achatinella spp.): Many species of Hawaiian tree snails are critically endangered or extinct due to habitat loss, invasive predators, and disease.

Hawaiian Silversword (Argyroxiphium sandwicense): Silverswords are a group of plants endemic to Hawaii. Several species are endangered due to habitat destruction and damage caused by introduced herbivores.

Puaiohi (Myadestes palmeri): The puaiohi is a critically endangered thrush endemic to Kauai. It is threatened by habitat destruction and invasive species.

‘Ohi’a lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha): a species of flowering evergreen tree in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae, that is endemic to the six largest islands of Hawaiʻi. It is a member of the diverse Metrosideros genus, which are widespread over the southwest Pacific. It is the state tree of Hawai‘i.[4]

Manfern (Cibotium): a genus of 11 species of tropical tree ferns

False staghorn fern (Dicranopteris linearis): one of the most widely distributed ferns of the wet Old Worldtropics and adjacent regions, including Polynesia and the Pacific.[3]

References
  1. Earth@home.org – the Geologic History of Hawaii
  2. Wikipedia.org – History of Hawaii
  3. bg.copernicus.org – Origin of Hawaiian Rainforest
  4. TheSupernaturalFoxSisters.com – The Mysterious Menehune of Hawaii
  5. Punahou Buletin – Kamahameha I
  6. Chat GPT

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A Little Trip to Big Sky Country

Congratulations to the newly weds Aislinn and Roy Brown!

I was in Big Sky country, aka Montana a few weeks ago to celebrate one of my best friend’s wedding. Aislinn is from Alaska, I’m not exactly sure where, but she talked a lot about Juneau so for the sake of this article, we’re just gonna say she’s from Alaska. We went to Gonzaga together and then L’institute Catholique in Paris where we both studied French for 9 months.

The Adventure Crew in France

The whole group of Gonzaga students in Paris got pretty close and went through a lot of very interesting adventures as we traveled through Europe together (there were 13 of us). This included some trips through the rest of Europe, both organized by the school and by ourselves so we got some good chances to travel and see the world. We also became friends with a lot of foreigners, mostly British folk because of the lack of language barrier.

College ended after another year back in good ol’ Spokane, Washington and Aislinn went to law school after. But she visited me in Boston with Nathalie and Molly and Brian and I got a chance to visit her and meet Roy in DC during her second year. Molly and Brian were part of the Gonzaga in Paris group and Natalie stayed at the same foyer as Aislinn and Molly. I think Natalie was doing an internship at the time, but I kinda forget.

Into the Treasure State

A bunch of us from the Paris group headed up to the wedding in Montana, including Anna and Kelly/Kelly’s fiancé Greg. Molly and Nathalie met me at the Missoula airport and we all hitched a ride with Kelly down over to Helena, where we had an AirBnb.

This is one of the few weddings I’ve ever been to (I think maybe 5 so far?) and I was pretty stoked to spend some quality time with my best friends from college. Before I knew it, the wedding ceremony was over and we were on a bus out into the middle of nowhere for the reception, where I got my hair cut (I’d been growing it for 5 years) and spilled wine on my shirt within 5 minutes of getting my first glass (I hadn’t even taken a sip yet!).

The wedding reception was super fun, but I get tired really early nowadays so I was basically passed out at midnight and on the bus back to the AirBnb. Fell asleep around 2, on the floor (I like to sleep on the floor for my back).

I haven’t been able to travel like this in quite a while, so I’m very grateful to be able to see a new places and fly on a couple of planes. There’s nothing quite like spending time staring out at the clouds and the land from an airplane, or seeing a new landscape that you’ve never seen before from a car. Montana was beautiful and the name ‘Big Sky” is definitely appropriate for the area that we stayed in about an hour north of Yellowstone.

Nothing to do for a Little Time

I got a little break from having to do anything. It was much needed for my yoga instruction, probably even healthier for my yoga practice and then probably was most essential for my landscaping work. Not having to dig any holes for a week was really nice. I got to recharge my batteries and get ready for more work! And everyone needs a little break from reality sometimes 🙂

I got a chance to see some wildlife during the trip, including some red-tailed hawks, a golden eagle, and some deer (so far) like 3 bison and a moose and her daughter. The flowing River outside of the Rainbow Ranch in Big Sky was breathtaking and getting a great view of it from the room is definitely a first! No bears or anything ridiculous either, which was nice.

Good Food and Good Company

We did a decent amount of hiking and got to eat a lot of midwestern comfort food, on Monday the Gallatin Riverhouse Grill and a pretty fancy last night at Horn and Cantle. Wednesday I spent the day flying back into town. Got to hang out with Nathalie until I left and got back around 9 o’clock. I think we left the hotel at 8:30am.

So it’s definitely not easy to travel to Montana, its quite a good distance away, but the nature and less populated spaces made it really easygoing and picturesque.

A Little Trip to Big Sky Country Read More »

The Wanderer, Part 31

The Wanderer, Part 31

The Wanderer, Part 31

This story is part of a series, this is the thirty-first part.

You can read the first story here: The Wanderer, Part 1

and the most recent story here: The Wanderer, Part 30

Tas almost never dreamt anymore. Occasionally he would have a dream in the early morning, but they were nothing supernatural. His arm occasionally, but the wyrm remained dormant and he hadn’t experienced any fading into shadow or dreamwalking. He was beginning to grow much tougher in the winter cold, always pushing against the wind and the falling snow. He was strong now, and Tas knew that Ice made him much stronger. The wolf was like his eyes in the snow, they worked in unison now.

Yao was finally tiring from the hard work on moving through the snow each day. Tas could tell that he was busy planning their next move. Though he had no idea what it was.

On the way out of the door, Tas wacked Yao in the head with the end of his stick, causing a big yelp from the old man and a reflexive grab of Tas’ collar. Yao pulled him in tight and laughed, though Tas could see that the old man was weary. “You’re tired, Yao. I’ve never seen you so physically deflated.”

“Yes, I am tired. The time has almost come for us to leave these mountains and to move on. You have gotten strong in the past months and your hunting is now better than mine.” Yao glared at Ice. “The wolf makes you inhumanely good at finding prey.”

Now Yao turned to Tas more seriously, as though he’d been waiting to ask something that was now finally coming up. “Have you dreamt lately? Has the wyrm wriggled free in your dreams?”

“No, Yao, nothing. I haven’t dreamt in months!” It was weird, now that Yao mentioned it, he couldn’t remember the last dream he had. “And the wyrm has been completely meaningless for me. I’m not sure if it is even still a part of me.”

“Oh, it most certainly is Tas. I am worried, the absence of action is the same as drastic action in cases of shadow magic. You may be sitting on a time bomb… with a demonic nightmare just waiting around for one night when you slip too deeply into your sleep. It’s just like Melkar to wait as long as he needs to in order to surprise me.”

“Then we will just have to be ready for him.” Tas said eagerly, scratching Ice behind his ear while he said it.

“Yes, Tas, we will. You have gotten stronger, but it may be time to return to the monastery. Fei could help you to learn how to use the dreamwalking now, instead of simply avoiding it.” Yao’s eyes sparkled with possibility. But Tas was enjoying his time in the snow and he loved the thrill of the hunt. He would have to pack lots of jerky with him to go; he didn’t think he could return to the old ways of only small amounts of rice each day. His body had grown quite a bit and he was no longer a child. He was now a young man, as Yaina liked to remind him.

They set out into the day with the scolding morning winds, ripping through Tas’ furs as if they were napkins. Yao’s face immediately sank to the snow and they trudged off together, separate from the main pack of hunters, but moving in the same direction. Ice led, as always; Tas bridged the wolf and Yao and made sure that everyone was in the proper position in case of a stampede or of a herd moving though the area. Tas trudged slowly using his spear Ice began to take off in search for a scent while Tas and Yao looked for tracks. Ice always found something first these days.

This was the coldest day Tas had experienced. They all had to keep moving to stay warm; even Ice was grimacing against the wind. Yao lagged a little, but he looked the least affected by the conditions.

After a few more minutes, Ice picked up a trail and they moved through the icy desert until they stumbled onto a small cave. Ice stopped at the mouth of the small rock formation and sniffed before they arrived. He looked excited, but also very wary. As Tas approached the rocks, he could see that the opening was large enough for a bigger animal.

As Yao arrived last, unusual for the old man, but Tas knew that the cold was taking its toll on the old man. They would have to leave this place soon, as Yao had said.

Yao scoffed as he reached the mouth of the cave, and began to peer down expressionlessly. Tas couldn’t seem to make out what the old man was thinking, even though he knew Yao better than he knew himself at this point. Or at least close.

“There is something dark down there.” Yao said slowly.

“What do you mean?” Tas said slowly. His mind instantly rushed to Grethatch, Melkar and the nether-magic that they had encountered at the monastery. “Is it from the nether?”

“Yes.” Yao said instantly. “I can taste the shadow in the air.” It smelt like rot and dampness to Tas, but he didn’t know better. The only nether beings he had encountered were once human; except for the wyrm, which hadn’t so much as moved since his last nightmare.

As Tas thought about the wyrm, it began to squirm in his arm. He was terrified; it was obviously responding to whatever was down below.

Suddenly a sound echoed through the cave; a raspy and chilling breath that made Tas’ heart shudder. His eyes began to go dark, though they were still open and a loud ringing sound took over his hearing. He looked at Yao, who seemed to be yelling, but was making no sound. Another breath and now Tas was shaking uncontrollably. He could feel Yao’s hand on his face, but Tas had to focus completely on breathing, because he was grasping for air. Then Tas felt Ice lay next to him and with a sigh that broke through the shaking, passed out.

 

 

 

The Wanderer, Part 31 Read More »

The Wanderer, Part 29

The Wanderer, Part 29

This story is part of a series, this is the twenty-ninth part.

You can read the first story here: The Wanderer, Part 1

and the most recent story here: The Wanderer, Part 28

Yao and Tas readied their gear for tomorrow, another day of hunting in the ice-cold mountains. They took turns to wash quickly, then dressed to eat with Yao’s cousins, the princes. He was even looking forward to the meal.

After washing from the day of hunting, Tas found himself missing Ice; he hadn’t ever felt this way. He just wanted to spend time with her, but knew that he would be busy tonight. But he was happy that he had a new friend. Yaina had taken well to the news that there would be someone new around to take care of and was already feeding Ice before Tas had a chance to think about it, much to the glee and confusion of the small pup. Ice would miss and accidentally scratch Yaina, but Yaina didn’t seem to mind. After a few cuts, she rolled her sleeves down and that kept the pup’s teeth from cutting her skin. She was even more keen to care for Ice when Yao had announced that she was an orphan now and needed a new mother. Tas said his goodbye to both Ice and Yaina, then adorned his furry cloak and followed Yao back into the icy wind.

The walk back to Yaina’s was a brutal ordeal and Tas was exhausted to say the least. But it was still early in the evening and they would feast with the cousins, Idril and Adal, and hopefully regain their energy. Yao had brought the unnamed male pup with them and they were all huddling close as they strode against the wind to the palace.

They arrived a quarter of an hour later at the huge structure, iced stone walls rising high into the night. There were three blacksmith forges surrounding the castle, running on wood from the immense forest behind the outcropping that housed the foundation. The mountain was still full of huge trees and Tas couldn’t help but wonder what kind of animals they might encounter in dark woods.

The group of three knocked on the iron door then Yao entered; he led the way into a dark antechamber and seemingly empty hall. The room was enormous, so big that Tas couldn’t see the ceiling in the darkness. But he could hear a dim sound in the back of the castle and Yao had continued in its direction. Tas scuttled to catch-up and found himself in another hall. Yao was just slipping through a doorway to his right and he followed the old man quickly, grabbing the door before he closed it and shutting it behind him.

The cousins didn’t notice Yao at first. They were both taken off guard and erupted into expressions of exasperation when they saw him sneaking a leg of elk from the table. They welcomed Tas and Yao to sit and feast with them, without question. Tas had never eaten venison before, but it was delicious and he enjoyed himself enormously while the cousins and Yao discussed the circumstances under which they had found Jaar; Adal named him immediately, but Yao kept Jaar in his jacket while he ate.

They all ate fairly quickly and the twin’s meal was taken away by their two maids while Yao was the last to finish. Tas took his time finishing the stew; it warmed his insides and seemed to finally get rid of the cold from their long day of trekking through the snow.

Finally Yao removed the small pup from his pocket so that it could eat some of the remains of the elk and both of the cousins hushed with astonishment.

“Yao, where did you find this glorious little arctic wolf?” Idril moved closer and started to pet it softly and tenderly, much to Tas’ surprise. “Of course, he will only be small for a couple of months. These are wolves.” He started to examine the  long teeth and their eyes were silver as ice.

Adal picked the Jaar up, a little less tenderly, but that didn’t seem to upset it. It licked Adal’s nose, then he lowered it slowly while giggling. “What an interesting little guy. He’s so small. He’ll be a hunter soon?”

“Yao, this is the perfect age, thank you for your gift. He will be fun to have on our hunts,” Adal stared at his husband. “It would seem that destiny had a hand in this. You bring a white wolf back with you from your first day of hunting? We owe the gods a great honor! Who could have predicted it?  We are honored to receive it Uncle!”

Yao smiled fully and embraced his cousin. But Tas was more interested in what Adal said about the gods; he wanted to know if he meant it. It seemed to Tas that everything was going very well, but as soon as Yao turned his back on his cousins, he expression turned dark and they left immediately, leaving the pup behind in the arms of Adal.

“We will return tomorrow night.” and Yao left without a backward glance. Tas shrugged at the stunned cousins as he left, then follow Yao.

They left through the same entrance and entered into the cold night without a backward glance. Yao trudged off into the darkness, forcing Tas to catch up; Tas was still confused.

“What’s the matter Yao? Why were you so quick to leave?”

“It hurts me to leave the poor wolf there; he will be cage and most of his life will be as a slave.” Yao looked back at Tas with tears in his eye. “I fear I have condemned that poor wolf to a life of enslavement.”

“Not all beings get to be free.” Tas said suddenly, surprising himself. He remembered his home and the small farms around it; many animals were locked up there. Many of his friends were slaves. He knew that what he said was right.

He returned back to the house, happy to greet Ice, who was still awake, but Yaina was startled as they entered. It was late now and Tas went to his room, where he slept in a warm feather mattress and comforter and Ice and Yaina joined hims and kept each other warm in the cold.

The Wanderer, Part 29 Read More »

Confucius_portrait

Confucius – the Chinese Philosopher and Founder of Confucianism

“Study the past if you would define the future” – Confucius

Confucius and Confucianism

Confucius or ‘Kong Qui’ is a celebrated Chinese philosopher that lived in 500 BCE. His thoughts, philosophies and teachings were further developed at the end of his life into the religion of Confucianism which received official sanction shortly after his death. Much of the work commonly attributed to him is considered by scholars to actually be groups of people compiling teachings that he influenced, but only many years after Confucius’ death (you’ll notice this parallels virtually every other older religion). This implies that all of the Confucius quotes you’ve read are probably big groups of people compiling oral traditions that have been passed down for some time rather than original sayings from the sage.

Some scholars consider Confucius to be Socrates equivalent in the East, but this seems relatively unfounded due to the vast array of influences of Eastern spirituality at the time of Confucius. It is sure that Confucius had a profound effect upon the way people though about the home, of ideal government, family, proper social interactions, ancestor worship and respect for elders, and even helped to propagate an early version of the golden rule, but Socrates was unique to the West. Nonetheless, Confucius had a profound impact upon Asia, especially China, and his philosophical influences are still evidenced around the world.

The Life of Confucius

Confucius had a very interesting and elaborate life story, especially map of lu - Confucius Home Statefor someone who was supposedly born on September 28, 551 BCE in the Lu province near Qufu (see the picture on the right). Confucius’ father was named Hong He and was an officer in the military until he died when Confucius was three. He was raised by his mother in poverty; she died before she turned forty. He was educated at a common school about the 6 arts of rites, music, archery, charioteering, calligraphy, and mathematics. At 19 Confucius married and had a son one year later, and later two daughters, one of whom died during childhood. He was a member of the Shi class between the rich and the common and had a great deal of respect for tradition. Confucius’ mother died when he was 23 and he spent three years in morning, as tradition dictated.

Confucius had a successful political career for a time. This career ended in a political entanglement that forced him into exile. Confucius left with the political enemy and legitimate ruler of the state that was ousted by rebels. Confucius eventually left his ruling duke to travel and further expound his political beliefs in the courts in central and northeast China.

The old man returned home from his travels after many years of expounding his political beliefs but never seeing them taken seriously. After he returned, Confucius divulged his wisdom to disciples and would sometimes act as advisor for government officials occasionally advising on war and crime. He would eventually die at a reported age of 72. Confucius left behind a legacy that would be remembered throughout China and Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and would eventually spread to the west with the help of Jesuit priests.

Confucian Philosophy

The philosophy of Confucius is considered by many to be a religion. It is secular so I agree, but it is also a very powerful philosophy. Confucianism has its roots in ancient Chinese tradition and emphasizes the family. During his life, the sage discussed spirituality, the nature of god, and the afterlife. He emphasizes a mean between giving too much and too little when being generous, a reciprocity of actions where one acts as they would be acted upon, and traditional family values.

Confucius also believed in a strong sense of self, where one would cultivate ethics, morals, virtues, and most importantly knowledge. He believed in ruling by example with truth and honesty; if people were led this way, he argued, they would naturally incline themselves towards their superiors. In essence, Confucius’ philosophy was idealistic in a way that was similar to Plato, defining heavenly forms and bodies and using things like astrology to help guide his decisions.

Confucius’ most revolutionary philosophy is his lack of belief in the concept of Democracy because he didn’t believe in the ability of the masses of humanity to govern itself. He believed that people were not created equal therefore did not all have the right to govern themselves. Not everyone had a right of self-government.

The Legacy of Confucius

What did the ancient Chinese sage leave behind? Confucius was mourned shortly after his death in the town of Qufu and it became a place of pilgrimage. His birthday became a day of celebration of several hundred years until more recently China Confucius_Monumentdecided it represented its feudal state and banned the ceremony. In the 1990’s it re-allowed the ceremony and celebration. It is now considered to be a veneration of ancient Chinese tradition and culture.

Confucius’ descendants are repeatedly identified and honored by imperial governments. They lived a long and prosperous line that has been verified across several families today with a common Y chromosome. In China there remains a huge interest in the Confucian family tree. He is also often referenced in temples with Lao Tzu and Buddha.

References:

  1. Wikipedia
  2. Bio
  3. Quotes Attributed to Confucius
  4. Stanford

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mountain

The Wanderer, Part 25

This story is part of a series, this is the twenty-fourth part.

You can read the first story here: The Wanderer, Part 1

and the most recent story here: The Wanderer, Part 24

The Wanderer Continued…

They walked all morning while the sun rose over the horizon and then proceeded to cross the sky changing from a deep red to an outstanding whitish yellow that Tas couldn’t stare at. The snow around them reflected the bright light, but it was still freezing on the hilly paths. Most paths that they had taken were completely frozen over, and occasionally they would see a hut built into the side of the mountain as they climbed.

Yao whispered behind him, “these are Bahar’s nobility.” As they passed several built together, then they could see a  bigger group of what must have been 7 enormous huts built into the mountain. They turned a corner to the right, on their path around the mountain and Tas saw a huge castle-like structure and surrounding townhouses looming in the shadows of the giant mountain that rose above it. There were many spires, but of them only two were high enough to travel at least quarter of the way up the huge mountain to stand against its imposing majesty; they were attached to a gargantuan cathedral build into the side of the granite cliff-face with stained glass windows to play with the light of the sun. Tas could tell it was the kings’ castle, but also enjoyed seeing the capital town as a whole.

The buildings in the city were only a couple of stories, except for the three that were much larger than the rest, but most of the others looked like they were different parts of the same building. The castle, the tavern, and the stables were larger and far more detached than anything else and the castle imposed its huge spires over the rest of the village. As Tas and Yao walked through the small city they found a tavern and Yao moved inside while Tas chaffed at his heels. Yao immediately moved towards the back of the bar with his head lowered; Tas followed the old man into the shadowed corners at the far side of the bar.

As soon as Tas sat, Yao made a motion for him to stay seated, then got up to buy drinks, most likely the local ales. Yao would likely come back with enough beer for them to drink as much as they wanted and then would share only a small dinner. But instead of coming back with just beers, the barkeep came as well. The beers the keep carried were large though.

“So you’re Tas, Yao’s charge?” Tas nodded at the burly and muscular man with hair growing particularly long out of his shoulders and back.

“He is my teacher.” Tas said happily, smiling at Yao and not giving way to any of the ways that he felt betrayed to left behind; he didn’t have time for those feelings right now.

“I’m Sarjin, I own the bar here in Bahar. Nice to meet you, Tas, nice to meet you. I hear you are quite the student? You have traveled far with Yao, haven’t you?” He waited for Tas’ reply.

Tas initially nodded his head at everything Sarjin said, but when it became his turn to speak he could, or wouldn’t; either way, he was silent. Yao scoffed.

“He travels where and when he wants with me Sarjin. How do the details concern you my friend?”

Sarjin shrugged. “They don’t.” The way he spoke made Tas hair stand up, as if Sarjin wanted it to mean more than what he said. “I was just hoping to make a friend.”

“Well my name is Tas.” He was sick of Yao talking for him; it was time he made some friends of his own. “and I’ll be your friend.” Tas stuck out his hand to grasp Sarjin’s. The hairy man laughed, then gripped Tas’ hand hard enough to completely stop blood flow.

“Good to meet you boy. I’ll be your friend, but probably the only in all of Bahar.” Sarjin let out a chuckle as he let Tas’ hand go.

“No.” Tas said simply. “Yaina is my friend too.” She is my favorite friend.” Tas looked down at his hand “She doesn’t hurt me when we talk.”

Sarjin looked at Tas with a peculiar glance, one that Tas couldn’t explain or understand. Yao took over the conversation.

“I am going to meet my cousins right now.” Yao took a step closer to avoid being heard by anyone other than Tas. “Is there anything I know should? Any recent…events?”

Sarjin took a moment from pouring another man’s beer and took his money into the register. Then he leaned back over to Yao’s ear, “Its been oddly silent up there, old man. I’m not sure what is happening, but I’m sure its unusual.” He nodded at Yao, then said loudly, “thanks for stopping by old friend” and went back to serving. Yao left looking pleased, but also a bit confused.

They continued for a time to a large steel gate that led to the top of one of the tallest spires. Tas looked straight up along the heights of the pole to see it rise into the sky. Three guards waited at the gate and asked Yao what his business was. But all Yao had to do was say his name and they let him pass. Tas walked in behind him, boots clanging on the hard stone floor.

They walked through a dark corridior for a while, the only light came through the small slits on the side of the walkway. Then they came to a flight of stairs. It was unending. Yao set off first, looking like he was avoiding thinking of the innumerable steps before them altogether. Tas followed, but more curious as to how many there would be rather than dreading the walk.

They arrived at the top after about 30 minutes of climbing, each was panting, though both were weathered by their long days hiking through the mountains. Another decorated guard waited for them at the top, then took them through a corridor and into a waiting room. They walked over a velvet purple carpet that looked pristine in the candlelight. There was minimal sunlight because of the massive stone walls.

After another few minutes, a guard entered through the door at the other side and took them into the courtroom, bigger and more extravagant than anything Tas had ever seen. Two men, both iron clad and in full raiment greeted them, obviously the kings. Yao bowed to his knees and Tas followed suit.

Each had a fur cape, one was dark blue and the other dark red, but each had an unmistakable silver crown adorning their shortly cropped heads. They also had sleek steel armor connected by fur coated leather joints.

“Oh get up you old goat. What a pleasure it is to see you uncle!” The one in red embraced Yao while the second waited his turn.

“You’ve gotten older since we last say each other.”

Yao frowned, “you have obviously gotten stupider! Iril you should know by now never to insult those wiser than you.” His eyes twinkled with mischief as he spoke.

“Yes, Iril, I’m afraid I have to agree with Yao, you have gotten rather idiotic lately. He has a new girlfriend.”

“And you don’t Adal?” Iril smirked and waved his brother off.

Tas didn’t know what to think of these two men. Yao hadn’t told him anything about them besides that they were his cousins.

“Come you two, join us for dinner.” Adal said and led them down the stairs at the end of the hall, his heavy armor clunked down the stairs.

Tas looked at his master, who smiled, shrugged, then followed his two cousins down a much shorter staircase to the dining room.

The Wanderer, Part 25 Read More »

Baharian villages

The Wanderer, Part 24

This story is part of a series, this is the twenty-fourth part.

You can read the first story here: The Wanderer, Part 1

and the most recent story here: The Wanderer, Part 23

Tas found himself in a dark cellar, with dusty casks, kegs, and wine bottles stacked up the dark stone walls that encircled him. His vision was flawless in the darkness, he could see himself well and there was just a tiny bit of light pushing through the crack in the bottom of the door. A flickering candle on the other side, most likely. He quietly undid the bolt on the door and moved through it to the dimly lit corridor on the other side.

He grabbed the candle on the wall to light the hall after he softly closed the door, then walked slowly through the corridor; he was sure by now that he wasn’t awake. His skin was translucent and he had no general idea of where he was. And Yao would certainly not have access to where he was because Paj was back at the monastery. He was alone, back in the dream world.

Tas decided to sit for a long moment and meditate. He had never meditated inside of a waking dream before, so he decided this was as good of a time as any to try. He sat with his legs crossed and began to listen with his eyes closed, trying not to be distracted from his natural breathing.

At first, he felt a sense of being light; almost like he weighed half as much as usual. It was easier to maintain a fully erect posture and he found that the meditation came easily. But slowly, everything became much heavier, to the point where it seemed to bring him down with it. Each breath was a labor, intensely freeing but like he had been chained down. His concentration was so intense, but he was losing focus. It was like he was limited in some way, but he didn’t know how. His breath grew shorter and he began to panic, he couldn’t breath now! What could he do? The world around him began to go dark. His dream world was literally falling apart, melting into the dark ground beneath it until Tas woke up screaming into the dark night.

He was gasping for air, sweating when he realized his dream and lay back down to settle into his mattress. He was in a cold sweat and wiped his forehead with the back of his hand. The air was absolutely freezing, though the fire by his head kept him warm. He was still panicked, he had no idea that this would happen as a result of meditating in the dream. He needed to talk to Yao about this.

He got up to look outside through the small window by the door and found that it was still completely dark. The sun hadn’t yet peaked over the horizon to commence the day’s light.

Yao was scuttling around the small room, preparing hot water as he moved seamlessly over the rugged wool floor.

“I had another dream last night.”

“Good.” Yao said nonchalantly. “Was it exciting?”

“Not particularly.” Tas rubbed his head again; he was still sweating. “I meditated in it.”

Yao turned his head with a surprised expression that quickly faded. “You meditated during the dream? Why did you think to do that?”

“I dunno.” The sweat finally stopped pouring from his forehead. “But it worked.”

“How?”

“The world began to melt around me. It was like I hit the eject button on the dream and it was forcing me back out into the world.”

“Interesting.” Yao said in a very peculiar tone. “It seems that you are getting better and better at traversing between the dream world and this one Tas. Be careful, you don’t want to get stuck somewhere that you don’t belong.”

“Well, I guess I will just have to keep moving then.” Tas grinned at Yao’s dis-satisfied frown in response. “What are we doing here anyways? You’ve never said anything besides getting to safety.”

“We are going to train and hunt here in Bahar for the remainder of winter. Which is 5 more months of the bitterest cold you’ve ever felt.” Yao raised his eyebrows and smirked when Tas’ put on a melancholy expression and let out an exasperated sigh.

“We are also going to meet the kings this morning. My cousins, both of them, though they are simply brothers. Kings are not allowed to marry in Bahar. You will find that they are very different from myself.” Yao smiled briefly, though Tas couldn’t tell why. “Afterwards, you will hopefully be assigned a hunting party with the younger hunters your own age. They will teach you what you need to learn to survive in the high mountains. Or they won’t and you’ll die.” Tas sniggered. He wasn’t going to die from some cold, not after everything he had been through. Yao’s slight grin was telling of his own sarcasm.

After they finished their tea and Yaina came to make them breakfast and help Tas to find some clothes to wear. Tas tried to insist that he would be fine with similar garments to Yao, but Yaina would hear nothing of it. She wanted him prepared for the cold.

“The is your first time in the snow,” she said with her gentle and soft voice. “You’ll need some time to adjust before you’re like him.” She scoffed as she looked over at Yao, but the old man wasn’t paying attention. He was deep in thought, looking out the window at the white cold world outside. “Plus,” she said softly into Tas’ ear, “you need to look your best for the kings! First looks are never forgotten.” She gave Tas a firm nod.

Tas heaved on the furs and other jackets, gloves, boots, and a couple of old metal pauldrons that glinted in the sun and were surrounded by what must have been wolf fur. He strapped on the leather under armor, then began to strap his boots while Yaina helped with his pauldrons and boots. Tas stood up only to be immediately reseated by his own weight. Yao laughed loudly.

“Well boy, you’ll get stronger in no time! But right now, we have to go see my cousins and we can’t be late, so get on out of the door and leave my niece to her own work for the afternoon.” Tas hustled out of the room and into the cold mountain air. It was freezing outside.

He turned and saw Yao talking softly to Yaina before joining Tas in the snow. As Yao left he smiled at Tas, “get a move on, if we’re late to see my cousins they won’t hesitate to behead us.” Yao didn’t give the faintest hint of whether he was joking or not, so Tas just put his head down and followed the old man as fast as he could. They trudged off leaving a path of broken snow behind them and getting a light dusting from the sky. Enough for Tas to feel like he was in the fairytales he had always heard from his mother as a child.

The Wanderer, Part 24 Read More »

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Modena & Verona, Italy | Zurich, Switzerland | Paris, France

The past few days have been a blur of beauty, incredible meals, unforgettable architecture, and time to share with my sisters and mom. I think I will look back on these last few weeks fondly for a long time in the future; so much has happened in such a short time.

Two days ago, we arrived in Modena, Italy with the specific purpose of eating lunch at Osteria Francescana, recently named the second best restaurant in the world with 3 Michelin stars. I will write a whole blog about it later, when I have my blog’s storage situation figured out, but it was a 12 course meal paired with wines and quite literally the coolest and most luxurious experience of my life; quite a contrast to Dhaka, Bangladesh. We moved on to Verona for the night, had a great pizza, then left for an eight-hour drive to Zurich today where we ate yet another pizza. Zurich speaks German, but is an interesting mix of Italian, German, and a smidgen of French, though my French has been all but useless here. I am really looking forward to speaking my second language tomorrow when I meet up again with my best friend from Paris. He’s probably the biggest reason I was a French minor to begin with, then later decided to go all out with the major and switch from International business, so I could spend a year in Paris.

Suffice to say that I am very tired of traveling at this point, but also very happy to see some great friends over the next few weeks. It’s ironic how traveling comes in waves and you simply have to go with the flow, disregarding how you feel oftentimes.

I am excited to feel the French side of my personality return to the foreground of my mind; over the past couple of weeks adjusting to my family has done the same for some deep seeded aspects of my personality. The oldest sister is particularly responsible, but in the best way; she reminds me that I only have to be human and that there’s only so much I can do. Sometimes I can be too ambitious.

Verona and Modena beckon return journeys; Italy is a city far removed from certain technologies and has a culture of presence and amiability. I would love to spend a month there at some point in the far future. Zurich does as well, but perhaps in a trip all to its own; if this journey has taught me anything, it has been finding the gentle balance between movement and stillness, activity and resting. I should simply do what my nature beckons me to.

Fatigue is setting in at the apartment in Zurich, but the city is beautiful. Even the gas stations in Switzerland are health oriented, we stopped today and got an amazing green salad, fruit salad, and sandwich before our salmon pizza dinner. I can truly say that I am getting used to the amenities and absolute luxuries of the western world once again, though there is a newfound appreciation that is unexplainable.

My New song is being uploaded now, head over to alienmusique.wordpress.com to have a listen. A new Wanderer post is also on the way, which I have not forgotten about, but am spending a lot of time on the next major section of the “to-be” book. Thanks for reading 🙂

Modena & Verona, Italy | Zurich, Switzerland | Paris, France Read More »

"White Mountain CA" by JonathanLamb (talk · contribs) - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:White_Mountain_CA.JPG#/media/File:White_Mountain_CA.JPG

The Wanderer, Part 22

This story is part of a series, this is the twenty-second part.

You can read the first story here: The Wanderer, Part 1

and the most recent story here: The Wanderer, Part 21

Tas woke up with a jolt. Chills coursed through his body; the alpine air was fresh and crisp and their fire had died down to embers. Yao was snoring loudly and his wispy white beard floated with the wind and his loud snores. Tas’ eyes were hazy and his mind was blurred with fatigue from the day before, but the chill seemed to take only moments to wake him.

They were out of water, but during the past days Yao had taught Tas to build sturdy fires in the cold, to melt snow, and even a bit of rudimentary hunting, though he hadn’t shown Tas any of his expert trapping yet. The old man had caught three hares in a single snare two days ago, but he insisted that Tas wasn’t near ready yet and that he would simply hurt himself if he tried. Tas couldn’t argue; he had never seen snow before the days they had trekked up into the thin mountain air and he was still adjusting. He had never hunted. It was cold, harsh, and darker here, though the sun seemed to shine brighter during the day.

There was a dusty layer of snow on the ground so Tas took to cleaning out their temporary fire pit in the ground then went to collect more dead branches from the bottom of trees. He took his time to build the fire in a square with plenty of space in the middle for dried pine cones, pine needles, small sticks and some other kindling he could find. Using the flint that Yao had given him, he sparked the fire after only 10 minutes of trying; Yao could do it in just a couple, but it had taken Tas nearly an hour the night before.

The fire began to build and Tas took the small copper pot Yao had brought and began to fill his water skin first. When he was done, he woke Yao, knowing that it was time; the sun was rising in the sky and they needed to keep up their pace. Who knew how long they had until Grethatch or Melkar would find them.

Tas woke Yao by prodding him with a stick in the arm; the old man shuttered awake and for a moment his eyes were wild in defense and he looked ready to spring upon an assailant. Tas had learned to stay away from the old man when he woke him from snoring. He laughed as the old man gained his bearings, then moved closer to the fire, a grin of pure satisfaction crossing his lips.

“Good work boy! Maybe your cause isn’t lost after all,” he winked, and took the pot from Tas, filling his own skin, then drinking from it. He had another small vessel full of small leaves that he added to the water, then invited Tas to share in it.

“You think Grethatch will find us?” Tas said wearily. It was undeniable that his body was tired from the long days of trekking to higher and higher altitudes. His breath grew shorter faster and he found his muscles beginning to fail him at times.

“Yes.” Yao said sternly. “He has methods of doing so that I don’t understand, but they are powerful. You saw Melkar’s attack on the monastery; it was planned to perfection. Except for his overestimation of his own strength. It is probably his greatest weakness.” Another wide, this time sinister grin returned to Yao’s bearded and wrinkled face. “The only exception might be his underestimation of me. And by extension, you.”

Tas sat and thought for a moment while drinking the warm tea, feeling his entire body elevate with the hot liquid coursing into his body. It was ecstatic.

“We have two more days until we reach the village where I was born Tas. So now, you need to learn my story. Why I am who I am.”

“I know you were born a hunter Yao, then banished, but I don’t understand why. What happened?” Tas had been waiting for this since he had met the old man. Had it been months, years? He realized he had no idea.

“I wasn’t banished boy, I was exiled. The difference was my choice to leave. There was a corruption in my village that would have strangled me if I had stayed. I did what I had to.”

“What do you mean?” Tas was confused. This was not what he had understood from the little conversation they had shared on the subject earlier.

“My people are bloodthirsty Tas. The same rage and thirst runs through my veins, but I have tempered it, mostly with Fei’s help.”

“He disappeared!” Tas exclaimed. “Do you think Grethatch or Melkar capture or killed him?”

Yao laughed wholeheartedly in response, giving Tas instant relief.

“Fei may look harmless, but he’s as slimy as a snake and quiet as a mouse when he needs to be.” Yao’s expression grew more serious, “Never under-estimate the power of a monk, they dedicate their lives to learning themselves and by extension, their world. You saw Paj’s power. Fei’s is even more potent, which is why he commands the respect of the entire monastery.”

“It’s hard to think of him as so powerful; he’s so kind.”

“Fei is rare indeed; power nearly always corrupts those who grasp it. Honestly, he is one of my few friends in this world, Tas.”

“All of mine have been left behind.” Tas said, lowering his eyes and thinking back to his village. Tears suddenly welled in his eyes as his thought of his mother and father; where were they now?

“We leave behind everything in the course of our lives Tas. But looking back is important.” Yao said with a weak smile. “The past will always be behind you and that’s where it belongs.”

Tas didn’t really understand what Yao meant, but it comforted him all the same. He thought again to where they were going, taking Yao’s advice.

“So we are going to the village where you were born? Do you think we will be safe there?”

“I do not know.” Yao said seriously, his expression grew darker. He refilled the copper pot with snow and placed it near the fire, that was beginning to turn to embers. But it was still hot.

“My people are warriors, Tas. They do not know sympathy; they deal in death, honor, and strength. We will have one chance to find safe haven amongst them. I can only hope that chance will be on our side.”

“Chance? What does chance have to do with strength and honor?” Tas said curiously.

Yao laughed again, his normal hearty chuckle that Tas had grown terribly fond of. “Everything Tas. And do not be deceived by the tenets of honor; men are deceptive and sometimes evil beings. We are easily corrupted Tas. My biggest fear is that Melkar, or perhaps his allies hold have over my people.”

“You think he might have already been and corrupted your people? What drives that demon anyways? What does he even want with us?”

“He wants me dead. That is sure. As for my people, they are not easily corrupted; but I have thought the same of friends that have fallen to the shadows. So truthfully, I do not know.”

“And Melkar?”

“Melkar is a being of hate and greed. He likely wants your apprenticeship to wound me. That is why I believe he let you live while only corrupting you.” Yao grinned again, darkly. “A big mistake on his part.”

Tas thought back to the nightmare where he had been corrupted by the wyrm. Yao had to be right; Tas should have died that night.

Yao began to pack up their blankets and packs and they put out the fire. Tas felt rested and a bit worried, but happier to know where they were going and why. He couldn’t help but think that Yao was so different from his expectations. Gritting his teeth, Tas hauled his pack, took a long swig of cold mountain water, then followed his master up the slope into the chilled air of the alpine.

 

The Wanderer, Part 22 Read More »

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