Today’s Theme: Volcanoes
The Volcano Goddess
A warm wind blew down from the mountain, warming Kalani’s tanned skin and causing her long black hair to dance in the breeze. She was walking through the village to buy some coconuts and seafood for her family and greeted everyone she passed.
Her tribe was close-knit and had always lived on an island in the middle of the vast, blue ocean. Palm trees surrounded them and the forest led to Mount Konahu; a giant volcano that reached high into the sky.
“Good morning, Kalani,” the shop keeper, Nana, greeted her with a warm smile. “Grabbing food for your family today?”
“Yes,” Kalani nodded, as the plump lady gathered up some seafood and coconuts. “How is your family?”
“My sons are well,” Nana answered, handing Kalani a basket full of food. “They went on my husbands fishing boat this morning. I hope they make it back in time for the selection.”
Kalani frowned. She disliked ‘The Selection’ and thought that the century old tradition, which her tribe followed so blindly, should have been abolished long ago. Many people in the younger generations agreed with her, but unfortunately, they were too scared to go against the elders.
Before she left, Nana handed her a tropical red flower and smiled, “Here, put this in your hair for good luck.”
Placing the flower behind her ear, Kalani smiled and thanked the shop keeper before heading back home. She didn’t need luck, she thought, she needed to stop the selection. She wished that there were some way she could get everyone to see it the same way that she did, but everyone here followed what they thought that the gods told them.
“Kalani,” her mother greeted her, as she pulled weeds from outside their straw and wooden home. “Put the food away in the kitchen and tell your brothers to get ready.”
Kalani watched her mother without moving for a moment. Her mother had the same long black hair that she did and a tribal tattoo on her shoulder. The men thought her to be the most beautiful woman in the tribe and because Kalani shared her mother’s good looks, many speculated that Kalani would be the same when she got older.
“I don’t want to go to the selection,” Kalani finally spoke up, as Kalani’s mother stopped what she was doing to look up at her daughter in surprise. “I don’t think that it’s right.”
“You don’t have a choice, Kalani,” her mother scolded her. “You cannot tell the elders that you don’t want to participate. It’s not fair to the other people in the tribe.”
Kalani’s face fell, but her feelings did not change. She knew she couldn’t allow this ‘tradition’ to continue, but she didn’t know how to go about the change.
Kalani’s mother watched her thoughtfully before going back to her weed pulling and commenting, “If you want to change something, you have to do more than refusing to partake in whatever it is that you don’t agree with. You must speak up and get the people to see the way that you see. You must be a leader for the future, Kalani.”
Kalani looked up at her mother with wide eyes and ran inside to tell her brother’s to get ready. This time the selection was going to be different. This year she would get the tribe to change their ways.
When the sun began to set, everyone gathered at the base of the cliff that overlooked the ocean. The elders and the chief, whom Kalani greatly disliked, stood at the very top with a giant clay pot; inside were the names of every tribe member over the age of fifteen.
“It has been three hundred and sixty-five sunrises since the last selection,” the chief announced, his body covered in tattoos and his bald head shining in the glow of the orange sun. “In order to satisfy the gods of Mount Konahu, a new selection must be made.”
He made a show of holding up the pot to the sky and then placed it back on the ground, before sticking his hand inside and swirling it around.
“This year’s sacrifice,” he began, pulling out a name and then reading it aloud. “Is Kalani, the daughter of Kona and Keanu.”
Kalani’s eyes widened and her mother dropped to the ground in tears. Instead of being upset or scared, Kalani’s blood boiled in rage. With her selection, she would stop the barbaric tradition that plagued her tribe for years.
“Poor Kona,” she heard someone say in the crowd around her. “First her husband and now her daughter.”
“Kalani will be sacrificed in the volcano tonight to satisfy the gods,” the chief continued. “Please make your goodbyes now.”
“No,” Kalani exclaimed over the murmur of the crowd, cutting the chief off. “I refuse to be sacrificed. We don’t even know for sure if what we are doing is pleasing the gods or not. You have no proof. This tradition needs to be stopped and we need to stop killing our own people!”
“Many others before you have been sacrificed and the gods have always granted us plenty of fish and bountiful crops,” the chief replied. “You are just upset that you have been chosen. After all, you never spoke up last year when your father was sacrificed. This is pretty selfish of you, Kalani.”
“You’re sadistic,” Kalani screamed, backing away through the crowd. “You’ll see. I’ll run away and by the time you catch me it’ll be too late, but nothing bad will have happened.”
“We’ll just sacrifice someone in your place, Kalani,” the chief taunted with a wicked smile. “Perhaps your mother?”
“No you won’t,” Kalani replied with a knowing glare. “I was selected, so if you sacrifice someone else, the gods will not be pleased.”
The chief frowned and, as Kalani ran, he yelled out to everyone, “Catch her, or we will all be dead!”
Someone turned to grab her arm, but when Kalani turned around, she saw her mother shove the man out of the way and trip another that was running towards her.
“Run, Kalani,” she yelled. “Go and don’t look back!”
So, Kalani ran. She ran until she was out of breath and her legs felt like jelly. She ran until the moon hung high in the sky and the air became cool. She had done it. She had stood up to the chief and had challenged their age-old tradition, but she had to keep going. She couldn’t let them catch her until her point could be proven and the tribe saw how foolish sacrificing one of their own was.
After a while of running through the dark forest, with only the moonlight guiding her way, she dropped down on her knees and prayed to the gods to give her the strength to pull her revolution off. The air was still and all she could hear was the crickets. Suddenly, something hit her in the head.
“Ow,” she muttered, rubbing her temple. “Looking to the ground, she found an egg that was nearly as big as a small coconut with a red speckled pattern. “What is this?”
She picked it up to examine it and found that it was strangely warm like a coal that had once been in a fire. She had not seen anything like it before and wondered what it could have been. It didn’t look as though it belonged to any of the tropical birds on the island and its peculiar heat had her baffled.
All of a sudden, the sound of rustling in the foliage got her attention and she looked up to see the orange glow of torches behind her. Stuffing the egg in her shirt out of panic, Kalani got up and began to ran, but quickly fell. Her legs couldn’t support her any longer.
“Over here,” someone yelled. “I found footprints.”
Kalani forced herself to stand up on wobbly legs and managed to hide herself behind a large palm tree. She sat there for a moment, as the rustling grew closer and the orange glow grew brighter. She held her breath, as her whole body tensed up.
Kalani screamed and struggled to get up and run, when the chief suddenly appeared in front of her. He grabbed her by the waist with a muscled arm and the other men walked back with the chief through the forest and towards Mount Konahu. The whole time she yelled out and hit him, but he was too strong.
“This is crazy,” she screamed in his ear. “You’re crazy. This doesn’t help solve anything.”
The chief just laughed and, eventually, they tied her hands and brought her to the top of Mount Konahu. Her mother was there also, restrained by two of the elders, as her tear stained face looked fearfully up at her daughter.
“For your aide in helping your daughter escape,” the chief told Kona. “You will be forced to watch your daughter’s sacrifice.”
The elders and the other men looked uncomfortable, but didn’t protest to what was going on. Peeking cautiously over the edge of the volcano, Kalani could see the lava glowing brightly beneath her, deep inside the mountain. The lava bubbled and popped, as a heat radiated up towards her.
“This is for the good of the tribe,” the chief insisted, grabbing Kalani by the hair to force her to look farther over the edge, which caused the egg to tumble out of Kalani’s shirt and into the lava below. “Your sacrifice will keep us safe for another year.
When the egg hit the lava below, it sprayed upwards, causing everyone to stumble backwards to the ground. Amongst the confusion, Kona called out to her daughter, knocking away the men restraining her and held out her arms to Kalani.
Her daughter got up to move towards her, but the chief grabbed her ankle, causing her to fall. She kicked the man in the face and with her teeth, she unbound her hands. The chief did not let go, however, and stood up with Kalani’s arm in his grasp.
“You have angered the gods enough,” he hissed, dragging her towards the edge. “This will be tolerated no more!”
All of a sudden, something exploded from within the volcano, lighting up the area around them in a fiery red display of light. Everyone looked up in astonishment to see that a fiery bird had flown out of the volcano and into the sky. It’s brilliant feather’s were ablaze and it wings were spread wide.
“What is that?” the chief demanded, turning to Kalani. “What have you done?”
The bird’s fiery wings settled to an orange and red glow, and when the chief went to grab Kalani by the hair, it flew down between them. Startled, the bald man with many tattoos stumbled backwards and right off the edge of the volcano. Kalani rushed forward to help him, but it was too late. His body was already consumed by the lava.
Turning around with a forlorn look on her face, Kalani came face-to-face with the large, fiery bird that was perched beside her. It’s feather’s were no longer on fire and it was sat slightly taller than her. Being near it left her feeling pleasantly warm and in it’s soft glow, she reached out her hand towards it. The bird rubbed it’s face in her hand and she was surprised to find that it didn’t burn her. That was when Kalani remember the egg she had found in the forest.
When she turned to look at her mother and the elders, she realized that they had all bowed down to her.
“All hail Kalani,” one of the elders announced. “The new chief and the goddess of the volcano.”
Kalani’s face turned pink in embarrassment and looked to her mother for help. Her mother just smiled and nodded at her.
“As the new chief,” she announced uncertainly. “I declare that the selection and sacrifice of the tribe’s people be banned and deemed illegal.”
Everyone nodded and her mother looked up at her proudly. For many generations after, the people of the tribe spoke of the great demi-god Kalani, whom stood up for what she believed in and changed the future of the tribe for the better with her legendary firebird at her side.