The vision had started again.
Rough wooden planks. Flapping sails, slapping against the wind. The sense that the surface below her was not solid, not air, but something in between. Something she knew all too well.
It was the bobbing surface of water. The beautiful mystical liquid of the oceans which she was connected to like a sister. The ocean, which was her sanctuary, her healer, but also the barrier which kept her caged.
She was surrounded by it.
The last of her kind, left alone on a tiny spit of land in the middle of the south pacific.
Three volcanoes which has merged long ago, gave birth to the island, or ‘Whenua’ as it was known to her, and the voyagers who had settled there many generations before.
She felt it. The land, slipping away from her as if a rug had been jerked from underneath her bare feet, and she was drifting. Drifting away at such a speed, she could barely grip the wood now cradling her limp body.
With a choking gasp she snapped her eyes open. She was stood, her feet welded to the ground like a statue, upon the highest of the three volcano craters.
Her hair whipping her face gently, the ocean, fifty feet below lapped the rocks quietly, the vast water stretching out to an infinite empty horizon.
She softened her gaze and took some deep breathes, gripping her carved wooden staff tightly with both hands for support, feeling the sweat break out in cool beads along her top lip. She felt clammy. At least the spinning had stopped this time.
Once her heart rate had slowed back to its regular beat, she relaxed her body and took a new position, returning to her centre. She must pay attention.
Her raw clothing wrapped tightly around her body. Several pieces perfectly tied to allow movement of the body but bound to stay in place. On top she had gathered a large thick shawl, knowing she would be stationed on the edge of the volcano for some time, perhaps all night.
Her lookout was open and venerable, but this allowed her to see in all directions.
She could see the whole island, all except the very south edge of the cliffs. They were the lowest side of the island, and had no caves.
No caves equalled no surprises.
Feeling more awake, but annoyed at herself for being tripped up by the vision when she needed to be focused, she did her routine scans of the island.
The light was slowly starting to fade, so she made sure to search deeper into the shadows of each area before moving onto the next.
Everything was calm. Nothing moved.
Only her chest rising and falling with each long breath. The ocean was calm, no hint of a wave. It almost looked like glass, smooth and even in the late day sun.
And then, quite suddenly, it happened.
A clap of thunder and a bright green bolt of light erupted instantly from the sky and shot down, crashing into the centre of the volcano.
There was wind all around her, rushing up from the crater and up from the cliffs on the other side. She was being twisted, pulled in every direction. Her shawl flapping madly like the sails.
She told herself to think about where she was, not where she didn’t want to be. There was a howling. She braced herself, knowing it would be over soon.
And it was.
As quickly as it happened, it was over.
The howling stopped. The rushing stopped. The blinding green light vanished.
Everything was still once more.
She opened her eyes. The light had almost given in to the night. The last of the sun, which turned the moss and tree covered island to gold, was softening into the cool pinkish blue of the evening air.
As she got to her feet, she felt it.
She felt him.
Down, in the centre of the crater, exactly where the bright green light had touched the earth, was a man.
Huddled in on himself, shaking as if naked and surrounded by ice, his body looked small and soft.
She stood watching the quivering shape of him for a while. His clothes were dark, and he had started to blend into the damp soil under his weight.
Slowly, his body relaxed, and she could tell by the way his body shifted that he had passed out.
She gripped her staff and made her way down to the crater.
She knew each step. She had been here long enough not to slip on any loose stone, to snap any twig, or crunch any leaf beneath her gentle feet.
A few meters away from him she slowed down and came to a stop. She hadn’t been this close to another human for a long time. She didn’t know specifically, but it had been long enough for it to feel strange, especially as he was unlike any human she had seen before.
He was pale and his ears were round, unlike her pointed ones. He had no markings on the skin that she could see, and his hair was smooth, almost like water, the way it fell in layers over his face.
The only thing which was familiar was the pattern on his clothing. It lined the edges and turned, this way and that, creating a kind of patterned spiral, leading to the centre of the fabric.
The same pattern carved into her staff.
This was it, she thought, it’s time. After a minute or two she moved closer.
Raising the staff, she gentle nudged it against his leg. She felt his body tense. She stepped back. His breathing got deeper as he started to wake up and turn towards her.
Back over the cliffs where she had been stood watching, the sun had almost fully made its path beyond the horizon. The ocean was still calm and flat once more.
No wind blew.
No wave rose its head.
There was nothing but sea and sky.
Nothing, but the small silhouette of a ship.