Chapter 1: I'm Dead
My lungs burned as I rushed through the water, my eyes squeezed shut in fear. I was plummeting towards the bottom of the ocean at a frightening speed. When I finally broke through, I gulped in as much air as I could. It didn’t really do much, however, when I hit the ground and all of it was knocked out of me again. I groaned and turned on my side, trying to gain my breath back.
I wasn’t sure why I had decided this was a good idea. When escaping from Kakamora, one doesn’t usually consider Lalotai to be the best hiding spot. However, if you’re me on a small boat surrounded by nothing but water, the Realm of Monsters seems to be the best way to go. That is until I actually landed in Lalotai and heard all the noises coming from it. Way to go me! Jumped from one hell into another. Such is life I suppose. Especially when you tend to be one of the unluckiest humans to ever exist. Funny how that happens.
I had set sail a few days ago, wanting to find a remote island and bring something back from it for my people. They didn’t trust me, they thought I was no good to them. My father wasn’t the greatest human. He had stolen something very valuable from the chief of the village and had been sentenced to work long and horrible days to repay the debt he owed. I never found out what it was, I had just been a baby at the time and my father never mentioned what had happened that night. Once he died, the village moved their untrusting gaze to me. With no mother to teach me better, they figured, I would grow up to be just like my father. Unwanted and unable to help the village thrive. After years of being treated this way, I knew I had to do something. So I approached the chief and asked that he let me venture out on my own so that I may find new ways to help my village. A new medicine or an exotic fruit that we could plant so we’d have more food. Anything. After a while, he consented. They gave me a small canoe and enough food to last me for a few months and sent me on my way.
Now, here I was, stuck in Lalotai. Alone and afraid. My plan to be helpful turned into me being thrown into a nightmare. All I wanted was to be accepted, to have friends and eventually a family. My odds of that were now slowly dwindling down as I lay in the sand, uncovered and unprotected from the wilds of Lalotai.
After resting for a few moments longer, I stood up and looked around me. Lalotai was filled with different colours and lights, trees that were similar to the palms that grew on my island stood next to me, but the fruits that hung from them didn’t look like coconuts. I could hear growling and monstrous cries everywhere. I regarded everything with cation as I tried to sneak my way through this hell, hiding at every noise I heard. I had tied my dark hair up so it wouldn’t get in my face and held a small dagger in my hand, the weapon giving me some assurance. Not that it would do much against the monsters of this world, seeing as a lot of them were bigger, stronger and deadlier than anything I had ever faced in the human realm but at least it helped a little bit. At least I would die fighting.
It felt like hours had passed since I jumped from that mountain. Hours of walking and trying to not get noticed. I was exhausted, but I couldn’t stop. I knew just by looking at how far away the water was, I wouldn’t get back easily. There had to be somewhere though. Anywhere. An island that breached the ceiling, a tree that was tall enough....There had to be something.
I was so stupid to think I could voyage safely by myself! I wanted to prove to my village that I could do this, that I could be useful to them! Now I just had to...find my way out. Which, after another look up to the water, seemed impossible.
“Stupid,” I muttered to myself. “You just had to prove yourself this way. Couldn’t have climbed one of the mountains or gone with any of the other wayfinders. You just had to go off on your own like an idiot!”
At one point I found myself staring at a weird sloth like creature that started chasing me, multiple arms sprouting from it’s body. I ran as fast I could, trying to keep far away from it, when a large plant smashed down and gulped the creature up. I shuddered, realizing that could have been me. Lalotai was filled with all manners of monsters that would gladly eat me. With that thought in mind, I knew I had to find a way out sooner rather than later.
I was following a path up a hill, looking over my shoulder ever few seconds to make sure I wasn’t being followed, when I heard a voice. Hoping it was another human, wanting to see a friendly face in the darkness of Lalotai, I raced towards it, not caring about how much noise I made. Maybe they knew of a way out! Less time spent in this place would strengthen my odds of survival!
I turned a corner and skidded to a halt, back tracking a bit so I would stay out of sight. It wasn’t a human I had heard. It was a crab. A giant crab. A giant crab with a mountain of gold and jewels on it’s back. And it was talking. I think I hit my head too hard when I fell.
“Everything is so shiny~” it sang as it rummaged around a broken ship, occasionally pulling up pieces of gold. I backed up further and stepped on a fallen branch, making a very nice and loud crack ring through the area. The crab jerked its head up and swivelled around, looking for the source of the noise. I stood still, praying to every God there was that he would miss me. However this was Lalotai and I was a human who stood out like a sore thumb. Our eyes met and it squinted. I stood rooted into place, afraid to even breathe. “A human?” It made it’s way over to me and I internally screamed at myself to start running. Did I listen though? No. I was suddenly picked up from the back of my shirt and lifted up to eye level with the crab. Looking down proved to be a very unhelpful action, seeing as I was way too high up for comfort.
“Um.....h-hello Mr....Crab thing...” I gave a small wave as I dangled.
“Crab thing?” It scoffed at the name, looking offended. “I am the great Tamatoa! The shiniest monster in Lalotai! Monsters hear my name and tremble!” He moved his shell a bit so some of the light reflecting of the gold hit me in the face.
“Tama...toa?” I whispered, eyes going wide. I had heard about him, from stories the elders would tell us. Tamatoa, a giant coconut crab who had faced the demi-god Maui and lost. Twice. It was also one of the monsters Moana of Motunui had faced in her quest to restore the heart of Te Fiti. And now I was face to face with him. Great.
“What is a human doing in the realm of monsters?” Tamatoa leered, bringing his face closer.
“Thought it would be a great place for a vacation,” I replied. That’s it. Go out with your wit still about you. That’s how everyone will remember me. The girl who died while still being sarcastic. “I hear it’s lovely this time of year.” The crab gave me a once over, looking like it was considering something. “So um, if you could kindly let me go, I’ll just be on my way!”
“How about I just eat you instead? I am a bit peckish.” He started moving me closer to his mouth and I let out a small scream.
“No no no! You don’t want to eat me!” I tried to desperately think of a way out of this. “I’m really scrawny! Hardly a good meal for anyone! I’m just trying to find my way out of here!”
“Babe, there is no way out of Lalotai,” Tamatoa pointed up with his free claw. “If you haven’t noticed, the ocean is miles above you.”
“Well...then....”My eyes darted around, trying to think of a way to stay alive. “What if I helped you! I could shine your gold or help you get new pieces to add!”
“Don’t think you can fool me, tiny human!” Tamatoa snarled. “The whole lot of you are tricksters. You think you can come in here and master the great Tamatoa! Steal my gold and go back a hero?” He gave a humourless chuckle but didn’t move to try and eat me again.
“Look I really just don’t want to die,” I confessed. “I have to prove to my village that I’m not completely hopeless so please, for the love of Te Fiti, put me down!” I yelled the last bit, which seemed the surprise the crab. So much, apparently, that he did as I asked. “Thank you.” I smoothed my shirt down and looked back up at the giant crab. His eyes were squinted again as he regarded me.
“You’ve got a lot of nerve to be wandering around down here,” He said. “You’re lucky you haven’t been eaten yet.” He poked me with one of his claws which made me fall over.
“It’s not like I’m here by choice!” I huffed and got back up again. “And I wasn’t trying to trick you. I really will clean your stuff! Honest!” He leaned down so he was some what eye level with me.
“And why should I trust you?” Tamatoa asked, his face turned up into a sneer.
“Because if I go back on my word, you can always eat me?” I offered. Wow. Good one. Tamatoa seemed to consider this, his eyes flicking to his shell and then back to me.
“Fine. But if you try anything, your life is done for,” he stood back up and started walking, all the while muttering to himself. “Trusting a human, bah! Next thing I know, I’ll be flipped on my back again.” I breathed a sigh of relief and started to follow him. At least now I had some better protection...I hoped. We followed a worn down path for a while, my short legs trying to keep up with the giant crab.
As we walked, I noticed the smaller monsters shy away from Tamatoa. They would eye me up but refused to come any closer, content to just watch in the shadows and chitter to themselves. I glanced up at Tamatoa, thinking just the sheer size of him would scare anything off. It made me feel a little safer though, knowing the smaller monsters wouldn’t dare attack me while he was around.
We eventually came up to a giant cave that was made of shells and sparkled in the light. My mouth gaped open as I stared up at it. Gold coins and other trinkets were strewn across the entrance, like they had fallen off of something and nobody bothered to pick them up. I eyed Tamatoa’s shell and guessed it was probably from that. He sauntered into the entrance and I followed behind, my mouth falling farther open as I took in the inside. Gold and jewels covered the walls, mountains of priceless artifacts were on the floor. There was an opening in the ceiling where water shimmered. I could see a school of fish swimming just above too. Tamatoa must have seen my face because I heard a low chuckle.
“Beautiful isn’t it?” He asked in a low voice. “I had to make sure anywhere I lived was as amazing as me!”
“It definitely is amazing,” I said in awe. “The stories don’t do it justice.” I turned towards him and I was suddenly face to face with him. I jumped backed and gave out a little yelp.
“Stories, eh?” Tamatoa grinned. “Do tell me what stories you’ve heard about me.”
“Um...h-how great you are,” I stuttered, trying to think of some of the things I had heard. “My village would speak of how you came across your greatest treasures and how you started out.” He lifted his head back up and peered down at me.
“They’re probably washed up versions of the truth,” He boasted. “If you want the real stories, I can tell them to you as you clean my gold.” I winced, remembering that was what I had offered.
“I-I would love to hear you tell them,” I offered, trying to smile. No use getting myself killed by being on his bad side. He showed me to a small pool inside the cave, the bottom just as glittery as everything else.
“You can use this to clean my things.” He handed my the first piece he wanted done, an elegant shield, made of gold of course, and encrusted with blue and red gems. It had a good amount of dirt on it, probably being one of the oldest of Tamatoa’s treasures, so I gently set the shield in the water and began working away at the grit. Tamatoa watched me for a moment, making sure I didn’t ruin his treasure, before moving off to one side of the room so he could start to rearrange things. I thought he was just going to keep quiet but, true to the stories, he liked talking about himself way too much.
“As you may have heard, I wasn’t always this amazing.” Tamatoa started and I glanced over my shoulder at him. For the next few hours, he talked about himself while handing me different items to clean. When I was finished with the current one, he would take it and place it on his shell or somewhere in the cave. With a growing dread, I realized this was going to be my life until I found a way out. I would have to appease the giant monster so he didn’t kill me. Why did I offer this? Why hadn’t I just run when he wasn’t looking? I stared at my reflection in the gold goblet I currently was holding and wide, horrified eyes stared back at me.
Chapter 2: No Way In, No Way Out
Being the captive of a giant crab monster can't be too bad, can it?
This got intense, I got over excited with this chapter. Yay conflict!
“-and that’s how I defeated one of the biggest monsters in Lalotai!” Tamatoa finished with a huge smile. I couldn’t tell what time it was, seeing as it was hard to judge where the sun and moon were under water, but I knew it was late. Lalotai was darker than usual and the water above the cave was letting in a silvery light. I tried to stifle a yawn, hoping I Tamatoa didn’t notice. He had stopped giving me items to clean a while ago, wanting my full attention on him and his stories.
“Are you tired, little human?” He asked, his eyes squinting down at me. I winced. He didn’t sound angry, only...curious. “How long have you been down here, exactly?” I blinked, trying to think of an answer. Time seemed to move so differently down here.
“I...I don’t know,” I replied. “A day? Maybe more? I can’t tell.” I brushed my hair away from my face and looked up at the water.
“You’ve probably been moving the entire time too,” Tamatoa mused, his eyes looking around the room. They landed on what looked like a cage made out of bones. I gulped, guessing where his thoughts were going even before he reached over and picked me up by the waist. “Well, I can’t have you running off in the middle of the night so you’ll stay here for now.” He plopped me into the cage and went back to the middle of the room to settle down. I looked out at him, my hands gripping the bars.
“Does everyone have a cage conveniently laying around or just you?” I asked dryly.
“It’s there for anyone who decides they have a death wish!” Tamatoa replied. “All who dare to go against me can starve to death in that cage.” I opened my mouth to say something and then closed it, looking back at the cage. People...died in here? “Of course I haven’t had anyone to put in there yet for that long but that’s beside the point.” I breathed a sigh of relief and walked towards the middle of the cage. There were some plants growing on the ground, making what looked like a softer bed then the sand. I carefully laid down and pillowed my head on my hands. I didn’t think I’d actually get any sleep. Sleeping in Lalotai was one thing, but having the king of monsters right beside me? He could suddenly decide he wanted a midnight snack and then I’d be no more.
“Sweet dreams tiny human.” The tone of Tamatoa’s voice sent a bolt of fear through me. It was low and dangerous, and just drove home the fact that he could turn on me in seconds.
“I have a name.” I replied, my voice steady and flat.
“I said I have a name,” I repeated. “It’s Kala.” With that, I turned my back to him and closed my eyes. I didn’t know why I told him my name. It’s not like it mattered anyways. I shouldn’t have even spoke up about it. Tamatoa was known for his quick temper and I probably just stoked the fire. He didn’t say anything however and eventually, I drifted off into a restless sleep. I kept tossing and turning, the sounds of Lalotai howling through my mind. When I did sleep, it was filled with nightmares of being eaten alive. Tamatoa featured heavily in those, either by being the one who was eating me or laughing as something else got me.
I was startled awake when I felt myself being lifted from the ground, the air rushing past me.
“Whoa!” I yelled and tried to grab onto whatever had me, realizing it was Tamatoa.
“Time to wake up princess,” Tamatoa said, tossing me onto his shell. “We got work to do.”
“Work?” I rubbed my eyes and looked around me as we left the cave.
“Well, the gold isn’t going to find itself now, is it?” Tamatoa rolled his eyes. “And I’m not leaving you alone so you can steal my things and run off.”
“I wouldn’t steal anything!” I huffed and crossed my arms. I looked out at Lalotai again. It was weird being this high up. Everything looked so different and...somehow less frightening.
“Whatever,” Tamatoa shrugged. “Point is, I can’t trust you. I spared your life and now you owe me a lifetime of servitude. So don’t even think about running.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” I yelled. “Who said anything about a lifetime? I told you I’m going to find a way out and I meant it!” His eyes turned to look at me and I could tell he was smirking.
“You really think there’s a way out of here, princess?” His voice had gone low again. “Have you ever heard of someone actually escaping Lalotai?”
“Moana and Maui did,” I said proudly. Tamatoa glared at me and looked forward again.
“They were lucky,” he said begrudgingly. “If that little trickster hadn’t fooled me with a barnacle...and who says I’ll let you go that easily? Hm?”
“What use could I possible have to you?” I demanded.
“Lunch.” I blinked and felt the blood drain from my face. When I didn’t reply, Tamatoa looked back at me and let out a loud laugh. “Oh! You should see your face! You scared little human!”
“That’s not funny.” I turned away from him which only made him laugh harder.
“Oh come on princess,” he chuckled. “It’s a little funny.”
“Are you actually going to ever call me by my name?” I asked. I refused to look at him but I was getting annoyed with the pet names.
“I am.” Tamatoa sounded slightly confused but I brushed it off as him just trying to fool me. I stayed quiet for the rest of the trip, staring up at the water and watching the shadows of fish and whales dance above me. It was sort of soothing, watching the creatures of the ocean go about their lives like nothing was wrong. Tamatoa walked for a bit longer before stopping in front of a large clearing. My stomach dropped as I gazed around, seeing boats laying there broken.
“This....this is where you get your gold?” I asked quietly.
“Among other things,” Tamatoa nodded. “You humans always seem to have interesting things hiding away on your boats. Since they’re of no use to the humans who once sailed them anymore, I figured it’s a shame to let all those shiny things go to waste.” He ventured into the graveyard of boats, seeming to have a destination already in mind.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
“A new boat fell down here,” Tamatoa explained. “I want to see if there is anything worth while.” When I saw which boat he meant, I closed my eyes. Laying in a crumpled mess on the floor was my canoe.
“That boat won’t have anything on it.” I said quietly and sat back so I wouldn’t have to look at my poor canoe.
“What makes you say that?”
“That was my boat. The most I had on there was food,” I explained. Tamatoa paused for a moment before reaching out a claw and picking up what was left of my canoe.
“What happened?” He asked. I winced as I watched my canoe dangle from his claw, the damage more noticeable now. It was split in half, probably from the fall, and I could see the blow darts from the Kakamora still sticking into the wood. There were scratches along the wood but I couldn’t tell what that was from.
“I was being chased by the Kakamora. I don’t know what they thought they could find but they clearly didn’t find it.” I sighed as a part of the canoe fell off.
“Why were you sailing by yourself? It’s still dangerous, even with Te Fiti back to normal,” Tamatoa mused as he set my boat back down.
“I wanted to prove to my village that I’m not worthless,” I replied.
“Just wear something shiny, princess!” Tamatoa pointed to his shell. “People from all over will know how fabulous you are when you wear a bit of gold!” I picked up a gold coin and looked it over.
“I don’t think it would have been as easy as that.” I gave a small laugh and put the coin back down. I wasn’t even entirely sure they would think my efforts would be enough either. Or if they’d even let me back into the village. They were all probably glad I had left. Now they wouldn’t have to worry about me following in my father’s footsteps.
“You humans are so cruel to each other,” Tamatoa commented. I looked up at him and realized he had been watching me. “You’re like your own version of monsters. I’m surprised you haven’t started growing any fangs yet.” He poked me with his claw and I gave him a small smile. Then I blinked and realized what was happening. Was Tamatoa, the King of Monsters, trying to cheer me up? Why? I didn’t really have much time to ponder over that because my stomach gave out a loud growl. “I stand corrected.” Tamatoa looked away.
“Sorry,” I rubbed my stomach, trying to soothe the growing hunger pains. “I haven’t eaten since I got down here.” Not to mention my breakfast had been interrupted by Kakamora. Tamatoa sighed and looked longingly at the boats strewn across the sand. “I could always go look for something myself and you can stay here?”
“What, so you can run away? I don’t think so.” He turned his head back around so he could sneer at me. “We’ll get you some food and then we’ll come back.” He started heading back towards the trees.
“Are you ever going to trust me to not run off?” I asked.
“No.” I sighed but didn’t say anything more. When we reached the palm tress, Tamatoa bent one down and began plucking the fruit off of it. He tossed a couple to me before devouring the rest and then moved on to the next tree. The fruit was strange. It was small and dark purple in colour, it’s skin soft. I took a hesitant bite out of it, instantly finding reward. It was sweet and juicy.
“What are these?” I took another bite and looked around as we wandered farther into the forest.
“Fruit, babe. It’s fruit,” Tamatoa replied with a sarcastic bite before tossing a few more fruits onto his back.
“You’re funny.” I replied in a dry voice. After stripping a few more trees, Tamatoa nodded in satisfaction and started back towards the boats. He was very careful as he searched the boats, turning them over and making sure he missed nothing. If he did find something shiny, he was toss it to me and order me to clean it. I had nothing but my shirt to clean with though and, by the end of his expedition, it had become quite dirty. I sighed, holding my head in my hand as we walked through Lalotai. It was nearing night time and the sounds of the monsters were getting louder. At one point, there had been a loud crack to the left of us that made me jump, causing Tamatoa to laugh at me.
“You don’t need to worry, princess,” he said. “No monster would dare come after me.”
“Not after you, but I’m tiny!” I winced as I heard another crack that was much closer.
“As long as you’re with me, you’re fine.” This time, the crack was right beside us and I screamed, scurrying up Tamatoa’s shell so I was closer to his head. He finally paused and turned his head towards the sound, letting out a low growl to warn whatever was coming closer.
“Hey if you happen to get into a death battle with another monster, could you put me down first so I don’t die?” I was laying on my stomach at the edge of Tamatoa’s shell, my voice low as my eyes strained to see into the darkness. I thought I saw some of the shadows moving but I couldn’t tell for sure. Tamatoa didn’t say anything but kept moving. Once we got closer to his cave, I thought we were in the clear until something screeched from above. I looked up, my eyes going wide as a huge bat like creature swooped down. I screamed and tried to make myself small but it didn’t help. I felt claws dig into my shoulders and suddenly I was lifted up.
“Hey! That’s my human!” Tamatoa yelled as he reached up and tried to grab me. The creature had flown too high for him to reach though.
“Don’t drop me, don’t drop me, don’t drop me!” I cried as we went even higher. More of them surrounded us and started swooping towards me, wanting to grab on. “Ah!” I kicked one in the face before it got too closer but another one just replaced it. I was ripped out of the claws of the one that had picked me up, pain searing through my arms as it’s claws ripped into my shoulders. I was now hanging upside down in the air, a monsters flying around me and screeching. I could see the tress below me being brought down as Tamatoa chased after us, a string of foul words falling from his mouth.
As another monster swooped at me, I tried to think of a way to get out of this mess. My eyes went from one monster to another and then to the ground. It was a really far drop, the fall alone would either kill me or seriously harm me. There had to be something....something that would soften the blow....something like water! My eyes focused on a lake that was going to be directly under us. Reaching up, I grabbed my small dagger and, with my remaining strength, moved myself towards the monster and cut into it's stomach. Thankfully, it let go but now I was falling really fast towards the ground. I screamed the whole way down, trying to curl up so my head wouldn’t hit it straight on. The bat monsters were crying above me and I think a few of them tried to scoop me up again but I was falling too fast. When I hit the water, I felt pain explode every where and then I felt nothing.
Chapter 3: Waking up in Hell
Being attacked by bat monsters and then dropped into a lake isn't the best way to go.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
I groaned, pain shooting through my entire body. I tried to remember what happened, how I got away from the bat monsters, but I just remembered falling. Did I....die? Was I dead? It was only a fool’s hope that the water wouldn’t kill me but maybe it did. Sharp rocks or a monster lurking in the water could have easily done away with me. That was it, I must be dead and I was now in some kind of half way between living and dying. I cracked my eyes open, the light making my head hurt more, and looked around me. I was in a jungle of some sort and there was a fire blazing beside me. I sighed at the warmth and tried to shift closer but that just made me groan in pain again.
“Hey, princess, you awake now?” A voice asked. I looked up and saw Tamatoa.
“Oh Gods I’m in hell!” I cried and shut my eyes again.
“Excuse me?” He sounded incredulous and slightly hurt.
“I died from the fall and now I’m being punished! I didn’t even do anything!” I slowly opened my eyes again and saw Tamatoa was glaring at me.
“You ungrateful little brat! I saved you! You should be thanking me!” He stalked away from me and sat down with his back turned to me. “Maybe I should have just left you to drown.” I slowly sat up, trying not to gasp as the movement pulled at my shoulders. I looked down at them and noticed they had been wrapped in cloth. In fact, my whole torso had been wrapped up. Confused, I tried to think back to when that happened but came up with nothing.
“How long was I out for?” I asked, rubbing my head. I could feel a nice bump on the back of it but I couldn’t feel any cuts. My legs seemed to be better than the rest of me, only a few bruises and scratches from the claws. My skirt was torn and I couldn’t see my shirt but I had a feeling it was completely ruined. Being tossed around by monsters didn’t really do wonders for clothing. At first Tamatoa didn’t answer me, choosing to instead inspect his claw.
I sighed and started to inspect myself more carefully. I lifted the bandages from my shoulders and saw that the cuts were quite deep, alarmingly deep, and still bleeding.
“Don’t touch those. You’ll make it worse.” Tamatoa chided. I set the bandage back down and looked over at him. He was regarding me with angry eyes.
“I’m sorry,” I sighed. “I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. It’s kind of disorienting when you go flying through the air and then dropped into water.”
“A simple thank you would have sufficed,” he grumbled.
“Thank you. You didn’t have to save me but you did,” I gave a small smile and gestured to myself. “And you apparently fixed me up too. So, thank you.” Tamatoa looked away again and I was worried he wouldn’t forgive me but then he got up and turned towards me, a smile on his face.
“You should have seen me, princess!” He suddenly said. “I dived into the water and scooped you up, fighting those bats off all the while! Then I hid you away and went to look for cloth so I could stop you from dying!”
“Why didn’t you just bring me back to the cave?” I asked.
“Every time I tried to move you, you’d be in a lot of pain,” Tamatoa replied. “I didn’t want to make things worse so I decided we’d stay here until you woke up.”
“Hm.” I looked down at myself again and then around me, trying to see if there was anything to help me stand. I didn’t trust my arms to pull me up all the way, but I was sure I would be able to walk alright. Unable to find anything, I looked up at Tamatoa. “Could you help me up?” He chuckled but reached over and held his claw steady while I propped myself up. I hissed in pain as it pulled on my shoulders, and I could feel fresh blood starting to run, but I pushed through it and stood up. With my feet under me, I let go of Tamatoa and tried to take a step but my legs were apparently worse than they appeared because I dropped right back down. I cried out in pain as it jostled my shoulders again.
“I’m alright,” I panted. “I just need a second.” I reached up and touched my shoulder, my hand coming away covered in blood. I tried to weigh my options, wracking my brain for a way to fix this. I knew I was in a bad way but I had never been taught how to probably deal with wounds this bad. A claw was suddenly grabbing me around the waist and I was being lifted slowly into the air. Tamatoa put my in the boat that was attached to his back, making sure he didn’t hurt me anymore, before nodding to himself.
“There’s no way you can walk by yourself right now, princess,” he said. “You’ll just have to stay up there for now.”
“Being up here is what got me in this mess,” I pointed out.
“So just be more careful,” Tamatoa replied. “The boat can give you a bit more cover.” He kicked at the dirt and covered the fire before walking in what seemed to be some random direction. I had no idea where we were or how far away from the cave we were, but I trusted Tamatoa to get us there.
“Why do you call me princess?” I suddenly asked.
“Do you not know what your name means?” One of Tamatoa’s eyes turned to look at me. “Kala means Princess.” I blinked, opened my mouth to say something and then closed it again. “It also means the sun but I wasn’t about to start calling you that.”
“Oh.” It was all I could manage to say. I actually hadn’t known the meaning behind my name. We walked on for a bit, Tamatoa taking his time and making sure he didn’t move me too much. At one point he had started pulling down some fruits for me to eat, these ones different from before. Tamatoa claimed they would help me heal faster and he urged me to eat them. When I bit into one, it wasn’t as soft or as juicy but it had a citrus bite to it.
Tamatoa had more cloth on his back so I used it to redress my shoulders, sighing when I saw the condition of my shirt. It was completely ruined, just like I had thought it would be. Blood and dirt stained it, not to mention there were giant rips in the fabric. My shoulders still looked horrible, but the bleeding had stopped again. I moved as carefully and slowly as I could, making sure I didn’t reopen the wounds.
When we finally reached the cave, it had grown dark out. I was drifting in and out of sleep, the pain in my shoulders dulled a bit. I had a strange feeling it was due to the fruit but I didn’t mind. It was nice not being in pain all the time. Tamatoa headed inside and hit the wall, a rock covering up the hole in the ceiling. As soon as it closed, I noticed something weird.
“Tamatoa,” I sat up slowly. “Are you glowing?” He turned to face me and I saw pink and blue everywhere. His face, his claws, even his gold had started glowing. “What in the world...”
“Isn’t it great?” Tamatoa asked gleefully. “I shine in the light and the dark! Am I not beautiful?”
“You’re very dazzling, to say the least.” The brightness was making me dizzy, the colours melding together. I had a feeling Tamatoa used this to lure in prey. “I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep with you glowing all night.” Tamatoa pursed his lips for a moment before reaching down and plucking a leaf from the ground and handed it to me.
“Wear this over your eyes.”
“You’re joking right?” I held the leaf up. “Can’t you just...turn it off?”
“Can’t you just turn it off?” He mocked me, his voice going high. “No I can’t just turn it off! It’s part of me. Now sleep. You must heal.” He settled down, sighing as he slowly relaxed. “Eat some more fruit. It’ll put you out in no time.”
“Come to Lalotai they said,” I mumbled under my breath as I tried to get comfy. “It’ll be fun, they said. A giant, narcissistic crab will drug you with strange fruit!”
“I heard that.”
“He’s also loud and obnoxious,” I continued, smiling. “A pain in the butt and annoying.”
“I will eat you human.” Tamatoa lifted his head but I didn’t see anger. “You can’t run from me in your current condition. It will be easy.”
“Then who would clean your things?” I asked. “They’ll gather dust and other unwanted things.”
“It is better than an unwanted lump on my back.” He looked smug at that but I had a comeback ready.
“You’re the one who put me up here. Can’t be that unwanted.” I shrugged and then winced as it pulled at my shoulders.
“Yeah well,” Tamatoa sneered. “I’ve had prettier things up there.”
“Low blow!” I yelled. “I’ve been trying to survive down here. This isn’t my best self.”
“Yes, I’m sure all the guys were just begging to be by your side.” Tamatoa nodded. That gave me pause. I wasn’t horrible looking, I knew that. My father always said I looked like my mother and, while I only had vague memories of her, I knew she was beautiful. But none of the village boys ever wanted to be around me. Granted, no one did but still. “Hey, princess, why the sudden sad face?”
“N-nothing! I’m just tired.” I faked a yawn and laid back in the boat. “I should get some rest.” I closed my eyes and tried to relax, but I could feel Tamatoa’s eyes on me. After a few moments, he shifted. I cracked my eyes open and saw he had laid his head down. I silently sighed in relief and closed my eyes again, hoping I could get some rest.
Nothing like ruthless violence to bring two idiots together
Chapter 4: Now Back to Me
Kala finally gives up her life story to Tamatoa
Yay backstories. I love them, you love them, everybody loves them.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
I spent the next few days trapped on Tamatoa’s shell. He refused to let me leave. My shoulders were healing, slowly and painfully but healing none the less. Every day, Tamatoa would make sure I ate and then would set off to search for more treasure. He didn’t make me clean his gold anymore, only talked to me about himself. He would occasionally ask me about my life above and sometimes I would answer. I told him of when my father had taken me for my first canoe ride, how the waves had lifted us high in the air so it was like we were flying. I recounted when I had run into a herd of wild boar and had been chased back to the village, nearly being killed before the village people scared them away. I spoke briefly of my father’s death, how it was cold and cruel and the village didn’t even hold a proper burial for him.
“You seem to resent your people,” Tamatoa mused one evening. “Why?”
“What makes you say I resent them?” I asked.
“Don’t answer a question with a question. I want a proper answer,” Tamatoa turned to look at me. “You always avoid the subject. I demand you tell me.”
“Now you’re demanding,” I crossed my arms. “Uh-huh.”
“I’ve told you everything there is to know about me. Now I want to know about you.” That caught me off guard. Tamatoa was supposed to be the one creature in the whole world who loved nothing more than talking about himself. Why would he want to hear about a human’s life? I shifted uncomfortably on his back, scratching my arm as my mind raced. I had no desire to tell him about my life but I had a feeling he wouldn’t let it go.
“Before I was born,” I started with a sigh. “My father had stolen something from the chief of our village. It was very valuable, the most precious thing the chief could ever possess.”
“Was it gold?” Tamatoa interrupted, his voice excited. “Or a jewel?”
“I don’t know what it was,” I replied honestly. “Father never told me and the village people only said it was the most precious thing ever. So precious that my father was sentenced to serve as a slave, almost. He had to work in the fields on the hottest days, usually by himself. All the harder and more dangerous jobs were given to him. The village people believed this was the proper way for him to pay back what he owed. There was only one person in the village who didn’t hate my father for what happened. My mother. She still loved him. She died when I was six.”
“What happened?” Tamatoa was laying on the ground, idly playing with some gold while he listened.
“There was a storm,” I furrowed my eyebrows as I recalled how my mother died. “She went out to get something and a tree fell on her. I can’t remember why she left our hut but I do remember my father calling out for her, begging her to come back inside.”
“Humans break so easily,” Tamatoa hummed. “The smallest thing can wipe you out.”
“Yes well we don’t all have an indestructible shell covering our backs,” I pointed out. “Anyways, the village people blamed my father for her death. They thought he has pushed her to go out into that storm. And without a mother to raise me right, they feared I’d turn out just like my father. So they did the logical thing and shunned me along with him.” I gave a humourless laugh and shook my head. “I tried making friends, wanting to show everyone I was trustworthy. They wouldn’t have any of that though. The chief wasn’t exactly warm towards me either so most people just followed him. Then my father died and they buried him in an unmarked grave during the night...there were no rituals, no prayers. Nothing.” I frowned and looked out of the cave mouth. Lalotai was alive with sounds and movement that night.
Thinking back on the days after my father had passed, I realized how alone I truly was. I had no one to talk to afterwards and, when I wasn’t working to help harvest the food, I would hide away in my hut or in a tree, staring out at the horizon. All those whispers behind my back, the feeling of everyone watching me as I walked through the village, the chief and his family opening shunning me...I guess Tamatoa was right in saying I resented them. They never gave me anything and yet I tried so hard to prove myself to them.
“Hey,” Tamatoa nudged me with his claw. “You coming back down here or you just going to float away?” I blinked and looked over at him. He had a curious look on his face, something of a mix between concerned and caring. It was a weird look for him.
“Sorry. Got lost in thought,” I cleared my throat and sat up a bit. “Where was I?”
“Your dad died,” Tamatoa reminded me before lowering his head again.
“Right,” I nodded. “After he died, things didn’t really get better. They didn’t get worse but there had been a part of me that hoped the people wouldn’t hate me so much. I tried so hard to make sure I was pulling my weight around the village, helping with the harvest and getting the fields ready. Eventually, I got fed up with it. So I went to the chief and asked that he let me voyage by myself so that I could bring something back to the village and prove myself.”
“Yeah? And how’s that going for you?” Tamatoa peered at my, amusement in his eyes
“You think they’ll accept a giant crab?” I asked, deadpanned. “Because you’re my best shot right now.”
“Oh I can see it now,” he snapped his claws in delight, his antennae perking up. “I’d show up all fabulous and shiny! They’d worship me! I would be a God!”
“They’d probably eat you,” I pointed out but Tamatoa wasn’t listening.
“Can you see me, princess?” He asked. “The sunlight hitting my back, making me light up!”
“Or you’d eat them,” I mused.
“Just think! You and me coming out of the ocean and all their jaws dropping! Of course it would be because of how amazing and sparkly I look, but you could take some credit in finding me.”
“I am not bringing you back with me,” I shook my head. “I think that would cause the opposite of what I want.”
“Awe babe, why you gotta bring me down like this?” Tamatoa frowned. “I was getting excited too.” I laughed at the disappointment on his face.
“In case you haven’t realized, you are a monster,” I motioned to him and his eyes went wide.
“What?!” He yelled and looked down at himself. “Why didn’t you tell me? Here I thought I was a normal crab! And you’re telling me I’m a monster??”
“Ha ha,” I rolled my eyes. “The second you walked onto the shore, they’d be yelling for Maui to come and bring you back down here.”
“Maui?” Tamatoa’s eyes suddenly narrowed. “Does he frequent your village often?”
“Well, yeah,” I replied. “Him and Moana lead her people from island to island. It’s been a few months since they last came to visit though.”
“And how is Maui?” Tamatoa’s voice had gone cold, his face turning into a sneer, and I could tell bringing up the demigod had been a wrong move. “I bet he told you all about how he heroically got his hook back.”
“Actually....he kind of skimmed over that,” I said cautiously. “He was more interested in telling us how he restored the heart of Te Fiti.” That didn’t seem to sit well with Tamatoa. He huffed and turned away.
“Of course he would,” Tamatoa growled. “He takes all the glory while not even mentioning how fiercely I fought back!”
“If it makes you feel any better, I wasn’t too impressed by him.” I offered him a small smile while trying to catch his eye.
“You’re just saying that,” Tamatoa huffed again. “Everybody loves him.”
“I don’t! I swear! He was so full of himself,” I shook my head. “It was nauseating. All he did was talk about himself. I much prefer your company to his.”
“Really?” Tamatoa looked at me from the corner of his eyes.
“Really.” I held my breath while I waited. I didn’t want to deal with an angry Tamatoa and is hyping his ego up was what made him calm down, I’d do it.
“He is full of himself isn’t he?” Tamatoa perked right up. “Always going on about how he’s everyone’s hero! Good thing I’m not like that. I can’t imagine how annoyed you’d be with me if I only talked about myself.” He sent me a wink to which I shook my head and laughed.
“Well, friends will always endure the worst parts of someone,” I said. “Otherwise there wouldn’t be a point to hanging out.” Tamatoa paused for a moment, his eyes squinting at me. “What?”
“Friends?” Tamatoa asked, like he was testing the word out, and moved his head closer to me, his eyes still squinted.
“Um.....yes? I think? Maybe?” I stretched out the last word a bit, suddenly nervous again. I really did call myself his friend, didn’t I? Tamatoa turned thoughtful and looked away again.
“The last ‘friend’ I had tore my leg off,” he said. He eyed me up. “I doubt you could do that. Or is this your way of making sure I don’t suddenly decide to eat you.”
“You literally had the last couple of days to do that,” I replied. “And I’m not dead. So I think that answers that question.”
“Hm. Friends.” He didn’t say anything more on the subject, instead opting to change it to something else. I was kind of confused at his reaction. Surely he had friends. Or at least acquaintances. Right?
Unbeknownst to me, while Tamatoa and I were talking, someone was planning on coming down to Lalotai. They set sail for the entrance to the Realm of Monsters that very night. Things were about to get really interesting for me.
This chapter is shorter but I just wanted it solely for Kala's backstory. And a little character development.
Chapter 5: Salvation
Maui ventures into Lalotai, hoping to have a civilized talk with Tamatoa. He wasn't expecting a human however. This changes everything.
More of a short chapter but things are picking up. I'm hoping to get to the peak of this story soon.
He slipped through the trees of Lalotai, quiet as could be. Thanks to his awesome ability to shape shift, he was like a shadow. He had on destination in mind, a place he had finally convinced himself to visit after all the time. He needed to finish things with that crab cake once and for all. Once he won, Tamatoa would have to admit that Maui was the better man and then things could go back to normal. As much as he hated to admit it, he actually missed the giant crustacean. Tamatoa was the only one who couldn’t die from old age or illness. Watching Moana grow up over the years had reminded Maui of every loss he had been forced to live through. At least with Tamatoa he didn’t have to worry about that. Plus, it was fun to fight the big, shiny idiot.
So now Maui was making his way through Lalotai, retracing his steps to the giant shell that housed Tamatoa and all his treasure. He couldn’t wait to see the look on that crab’s face. Maui had a huge entrance planned! He’d swoop in as a giant hawk, do a few twirls in the sky and then land as a human right in front of Tamatoa. It was going to be great!
When Maui eventually reached the shell cave, it was nearing dark. He could hear Tamatoa talking inside and Maui shook his head. He wasn’t surprised though, Tamatoa was so full of himself that having conversations with himself was probably a daily thing. Maui was about to enter the cave when he heard a female voice answer. Confused, Maui inched his way along the edge of the shell and peeked his head through the entrance. Tamatoa was sitting in the middle of the room, but he looked like he was alone. Then he heard that voice again and looked harder. There! On Tamatoa’s shell was a human! She didn’t look very old, Maui would peg her for a young adult. But still! A human on Tamatoa’s shell? He would never allow that!
Maui could make out bandages on the girl’s shoulders and wondered if Tamatoa had done that. The girl said something and Tamatoa smiled, craning his neck around to peer at the girl. She was holding up a gold plate that was encrusted with rubies. Tamatoa took it from her and studied it carefully before nodding and handing it back. How strange.
Maui watched as the girl angled the plate up towards the hole in the ceiling and suddenly fish and water rained down, landing on the girl and making her laugh.
“Hm.” Maui moved away from the opening and walked a bit away before sitting down on a rock. A human and Tamatoa eh? Maui knew the crab despised humans, thinking them a meal before anything else. So why was this one still alive? Curiosity grew in Maui, even his smaller self nodding along with his thoughts. He’d have to see what was going on. With a plan forming in his mind, Maui scaled one of the trees closest to the save and settled in to wait and watch. He’d hold of his visit for a little bit, wanting to see if Tamatoa would leave the girl alone for a few minutes so he could sneak in and bring her back to her people.
- - -
“You got water all over me!” Tamatoa complained.
“Oh shut up, you could use a bath,” I laughed as I pushed the fish off his back.
“Excuse me? I am the cleanliest monster in all of Lalotai!” He boasted.
“Explain your breath then.” I waved a hand in front of my face and wrinkled my nose.
“You little-” I threw a fish at him before he could answer. I was hoping it would just slap him in the face but Tamatoa caught it in his mouth and swallowed it whole. It had gotten easier to talk to Tamatoa over the days I was stuck on his shell. I was able to walk around fine now so he wasn’t really forcing me up there, but I think we both liked being close. It made me feel safer anyways, and I think he slept better at night knowing nothing was going to steal me. I was mostly healed from my run in with the bats, thankfully, but I preferred to keep the bandages on. Having huge cuts running from your shoulders to your back was not a pretty sight. It also gave me time to sew a new top for myself, since my old one was no longer usable. Some of the boats had been carrying different cloths so I was able to actually make a few new clothing items.
“Why are you cutting it so small?” Tamatoa asked.
“So I can add designs,” I replied. I had been cutting out flowers from a red cloth and putting them inside a bowl so I didn’t lose them.“See? I’m going to add them to this so it’s not so plain.” I held up a wrap shirt I had finished the day before. It was tan in colour but I wanted something more with it.
“Why not add something shiny to it?” Tamatoa looked around his cave for a moment before picking up a long, gold necklace. “Like this! You could be as shiny as me!”
“I don’t think that’s possible.” I took the gold necklace and looked it over. It was just a simple chain, very light and thin, but I could understand the meaning behind Tamatoa giving me anything from his treasure.
“Well, it’s a start,” Tamatoa mused. “Start small and then work your way up.” I put the chain over my head and Tamatoa nodded in approval. I ran the chain through my fingers, watching it glide over my skin with ease.
“Thank you,” I smiled at him and dropped the chain. “Now, how about letting me down so I can cook my dinner?” Tamatoa reached over and lifted me up gently, placing me down on the ground next to a fire pit I had constructed. It didn’t take long before I had a small fire going and I smiled to myself while I began to prep a fish for cooking. Tamatoa wandered off to one side of the cave while I cooked, rearranging things as he always did.
It was weird. Only days ago, I had been terrified of being eaten by him and now we talked and laughed like friends. He still scared me sometimes, throwing fits if something happened with one of his treasures or one of the monsters tried sneaking into the cave. The ability to switch from nice to mean and feral wasn’t something I could allow myself to forget. He still snapped at me too, if I shifted something on his back too much or accidentally knocked over a pile of gold, so I tried my best to not do anything that would upset him.
“Hey! I have an idea!” Tamatoa suddenly said. “Once you heal, we can start sticking shiny things to your back too!” He turned around to look at me and I laughed.
“I don’t think that’ll work,” I pointed out as I turned the fish over. “Unlike you, I don’t have a giant shell to keep stuff on.”
“Oh. Right.” Tamatoa looked disappointed as he turned back to his gold. I chuckled again and finished cooking my fish. As I was munching away on it, a rustling from outside caught my attention. I didn’t pay it too much mind, knowing full well no monster would venture into the cave with Tamatoa right there, but I still looked over. What I saw confused me for a moment, the mere thought of it seemed too good to be true. But, amazingly, Maui the demi-god was peering around the edge of the entrance and waving at me. I nearly choked on my food, my eyes going wide. He motioned for me to be quiet and then waved his hand again, telling me to go over to him. I glanced over at Tamatoa who had his backed turned to me still and then back at Maui. Steeling myself, I slowly got up and walked over to the demi-god. As soon as I was close enough, he grabbed my arm and pulled me out of the cave.
“Wha-!” A hand clamped over my mouth to stop me from yelling.
“Shh! Be quiet! We don’t want crab legs to hear us!” Maui hissed in my ear. He let me go so I could turn around and look at him. He hadn’t changed since the last time he visited my island, which wasn’t surprising. “Now, what is a human doing down here? And with Tamatoa no less!”
“I didn’t exactly choose this,” I hissed. “I fell down here. Tamatoa has been...protecting me...of sorts.” Maui gave me a disbelieving look and then looked at my shoulders, almost pointedly. “The bat monsters did that to me. Tamatoa saved me from them.”
“How long have you been down here?” Maui asked. He was looking around us, making sure Tamatoa or any other unwelcome guest didn’t sneak up.
“A week? Maybe more?” I scratched my head. “I lost track of time down here.”
“Well, come on,” Maui offered me his hand. “I’ll get you out of here and back to your island.”
“What?” I blinked, caught off guard for a moment. The thought of leaving hadn’t even crossed my mind. But then I realized Maui could get me out. He’d know a way to the surface. Suddenly, my chest filled with hope. But then I thought of Tamatoa and how lonely he’s been down here. Yeah, he scared me but he was my friend. I couldn’t just abandon him. At least without saying goodbye. Maui must have read what I was thinking because he sighed and shook his head.
“You can’t stay down here,” Maui said. “It’s too dangerous. Not to mention Tamatoa could turn against you in a moment.” Instead of waiting for me, he grabbed my hand and started running, his legs must faster than mine. I had trouble keeping up and almost tripped a few times.
“Wait!” I yelled. “I can’t just leave! I have too-” I was suddenly lifted into Maui’s arms, the demi-god having no time for my mortal legs.
“We need to get as far away from Tamatoa as possible before he notices you’re gone!” Maui replied. “There’s no telling what will happen when he finds out.”
- - -
Tamatoa was humming under his breath, sorting through his gold and adding new pieces to his shell.
“Hey princess,” he suddenly said. “You got quiet all of a sudden. What’s up?” He turned around but didn’t see the girl. His girl. Confused, he walked over to where the fire pit was. It was still going, but it had gotten down to the coals. Maybe she’d gone to get more wood. But she would have said. She never leaves without letting him know. “Princess?” He called out and walked out of the cave. He scanned the ground but saw no signs of her.
Worry was starting to fill Tamatoa, a feeling he wasn’t used to. He was starting to feel a lot of weird emotions since the girl came into his life. It annoyed him at first but he grew to live with it.
“Kala!” Tamatoa finally used her real name, yelling it as loud as he could. It was then a familiar scent caught his attention and his worry was replaced with a white hot anger. “Maui.” Tamatoa growled the name and suddenly the pieces clicked. That demi-god was trying to steal his human! Antennae twitching in anger, Tamatoa started to follow the scent, noticing the girl’s mixing with Maui’s. He’d kill that mediocre semi-god for this. Nobody stole one of his treasures. Letting out a loud roar, Tamatoa started running down the path, hoping to catch up with them before they made it out.
- - -
I could hear Tamatoa’s roar and I winced. He sounded really angry. Even Maui looked worried.
“Maui put me down!” I begged. This wasn’t going to end well and I knew it. If Tamatoa caught up to us, they’d fight and I don’t know what the out come would be but it wasn’t good either way.
“Are you crazy? He’s coming after us!” Maui shook his head.
“Exactly! You think he’ll let me go? No! So put me down! If you bring me back up he’ll follow! You’re putting everyone at risk!” I actually didn’t think Tamatoa would or could follow but the thought of it happening was enough to make Maui slow down. Letting out a frustrated sigh, Maui finally stopped and set me down.
“You better know what you’re doing kid.” Crossing his arms, Maui stood in the middle of the path, waiting for Tamatoa. It didn’t take long for him to catch up, his steps thundering through the jungle. When I could see his face, it was as if I was looking at a different crab all together. He looked completely feral. It was terrifying.
Chapter 6: Longing and Belonging
The surface...that's where Kala is supposed to be but can she leave? Will Tamatoa let her leave?
When Tamatoa reached us, he skidded to a halt, panting and looking between the two of us.
“Maui,” Tamatoa growled. “You dare come into my realm and steal what is mine?” I made a face at being called his but stayed quiet.
“Yours? She doesn’t belong to you!” Maui countered, pointing to me. He was keeping his distance from Tamatoa but I could tell the tension between the two of them was thick. I was standing off to the side, almost hiding behind a large rock and trying to be unseen. I didn’t want to be in the middle of a fight. Tamatoa reached over and picked me up, bringing me close to his face. His antennae danced over my face and arms, making sure I wasn’t hurt.
“I’m fine,” I said quietly. Tamatoa huffed and put me on his back before facing Maui again.
“You can’t keep her down here crab cake,” Maui put his hands on his hips and looked disapprovingly at Tamatoa. “She belongs with the other humans, surface side. It’s too dangerous down here for a human.”
“She belongs here,” Tamatoa hissed. “Her people don’t care about her. I do. She’s mine.” Maui snorted and gave Tamatoa a disbelieving look.
“You don’t care about anything except yourself and your gold.” Tamatoa hissed at Maui and swung his arm up, moving to hit the demi-god.
“Tamatoa don’t!” I cried. I was hiding in the boat on his back but jumped out to try and stop him. I wasn’t fast enough though. Tamatoa’s claw and Maui’s hook hit, the force of the blow throwing me off balance. Maui charged at Tamatoa with a battle cry and Tamatoa reared back, swinging at him again. I fell back into the boat with a cry and Tamatoa paused, looking back at me to see what was going on.
“You okay princess?” He asked.
“Please don’t fight,” I replied meekly as I stood back up. “Let’s just go back to the cave.”
“Not until this monster learns not to take what doesn’t belong to him,” Tamatoa turned back to Maui. “You’d think he learned his lesson from Te Fiti.”
“Hey! Low blow man!” Maui yelled. “I did that for the humans.”
“Yes and a lot of good that did!” Tamatoa snapped.
I groaned, suddenly founding my voice again, and stood up a bit taller. “Look, if you two idiots plan on fighting until one of you yells ‘uncle’ then go ahead. But can I at least not be here? I’d rather not get caught in the middle of it.” That made both of them pause.
“She’s right,” Maui sighed. “We shouldn’t be fighting when there is a human here.” He lowered his hook and looked up at me before looking at Tamatoa. “But I’m not leaving either. Not without her.”
“I dare you to try,” Tamatoa growled. I placed a hand on the back of his head and he sighed. “Whatever. You’ll be here for a while.” Tamatoa turned away from Maui and started walking back to the cave. I sat down at the edge of his shell, my feet dangling close to his neck, and looked behind us. Maui was following but he seemed to be arguing with himself. Frowning, I turned back around and watched as Lalotai passed by. Tamatoa was quiet and that worried me and I hoped he would keep his word and not fight Maui after I got off his back. He’d have no excuse not to once I was gone.
“Do you really care about me?” I suddenly asked, my face instantly going red.
“What?” Tamatoa turned one eye towards me.
“Back there, you told Maui you cared about me. Do you?” I asked again. His eye turned back around and he was quiet for a moment.
“Well, someone has to,” he mumbled. I figured that was as close to a yes as I was going to get so I let it go. The rest of the walk was silent, even Maui had stopped talking to himself and by the time we got back to the cave, I was ready to just sleep. The day had been more eventful than I was prepared for but I knew it wasn’t over yet. Tamatoa placed me on the ground by the cave entrance and then turned to face Maui. I braced myself, waiting for them to charge at each other, but it never came. Maui just sat cross legged on the ground in front of Tamatoa and waited. Making sure we both knew he was against this, Tamatoa took his time in sitting, making small noises of annoyance while he did.
“What’s your name kid?” Maui asked once Tamatoa was settled.
“Kala.” I shifted uncomfortably, knowing that a lot of questions were about to be asked.
“Which island are you from?”
“Moloka’i,” I replied. “It’s a small island, to the south of here.”
“I know it,” Maui nodded. “I visit there every so often. They’re a good people.” Tamatoa snorted at that but Maui ignored him. “I don’t remember you though.”
“I tend to keep to the shadows.” My reply was cool but if Maui noticed the change, he didn’t let on. I remember every time Maui came to visit. There would be a huge feast, with dances and songs telling tales of his feats. However, being the shame of the village, my father was told to not make his presence known and that rule had been passed down to me. Not directly but my father wouldn’t allow me to go on my own.
“So how did you end up here? With him?” Maui shrugged his shoulder towards Tamatoa who huffed in response.
“I was being chased by Kakamora and I fell down here,” I looked over at Tamatoa and placed a hand on his shell. “Then I found Tamatoa.”
“And he didn’t eat you right away?” Maui asked, looking up at Tamatoa.
“Hey, I have self control.” Tamatoa sniffed and turned his head away.
“He almost ate me,” I conceded. “But my cunning wit stopped him.”
“Cunning wit?” Tamatoa turned to glare down at me. “More like my kindness and pity stopped me. A small shrimp like you, wandering around alone down here! Broke my heart.”
“I offered to shine his gold if he spared me,” I stuck my tongue out at Tamatoa before turning back to Maui. He was looking between the two of us, completely baffled.
“So uh...how’d you get hurt?” He motioned to my shoulders.
“I told you, bat monsters grabbed me,” I replied. “I fell out of their claws and it did a lot of damage.” Now Maui looked worried. He got up and walked over to me.
“Unwrap your shoulders,” he demanded. “I want to make sure you haven’t got an infection.”
“What? No. I’d have to...to...undress...and I am not doing that in front of you!” My cheeks heated up. While most of the damage had been to my shoulders, my back got scraped up pretty badly too. Those bat monsters had huge talons on them. I shuddered to think what kind of damage their teeth could do.
“You haven’t had a healer look at you yet! You have no idea what kind of diseases these things carry!”
“I think I would have been sick by now!” I argued and moved farther away from Maui. Tamatoa watched with a bored expression, his antennae flicking every once and a while.
“Just let me see your shoulders!” Maui went to grab for me but I danced out of the way.
“No!” I ran behind one of Tamatoa’s claws and he wrapped it so Maui couldn’t get at me.
“She said no, man.” Tamatoa sighed and looked down at Maui. “I’d figured you’d know better than to push it.” I peeked over Tamatoa’s claw as Maui gave an exasperated sigh.
“Fine! Get an infection! See how long you last then.” He went back over to his spot and sat down, eyeing the both of us. I moved away from Tamatoa’s claw but sat right underneath his head so it’d be easier to hide.
“I know how to properly clean and dress a wound,” I finally said. “I’m not an idiot. I set sail by myself, I knew I’d need to take care of myself at some point. My shoulders are fine. It’s been days since the attack. If I was going to get sick, it would have happened by now.”
“Plus, I’m great at healing sick and helpless shrimp like her,” Tamatoa pitched in. “So you don’t need to worry about anything.”
“When it involves you, I’m always worried. This whole situation is worrisome. You hate humans!” Maui threw his hands up. “Why her?”
“Because she’s my friend.” Tamatoa put it so simply, like it was as clear as day. Maui started to sputter and I had to grin at his face.
“Friends?” Maui finally got out. He looked at me, bewildered. “Friends.”
“He drugged me with some strange fruit and I think it did some damage,” I admitted.
“Alright! It’s late!” Tamatoa stood up, picking up up while he was at it, and headed for the back of the cave.
“Wait a minute!” Maui called but Tamatoa ignored him. He settled down into the sand and placed me in the boat on his back. Maui was still at the entrance, trying to make sense of everything that had just happened.
“You are trying to get me into trouble aren’t you?” Tamatoa asked me in a low voice.
“D’awe,” I cooed. “I’m your friend and you care about me! I don’t think I’ve ever seen you all mushy like this before.”
“You either be quiet or sleep outside with him.” Tamatoa didn’t look at me as he said that. I hummed and settled into the boat.
“Soon we’ll be braiding each other’s hair and talking about boys!” I gushed and sighed. This time Tamatoa did turn to glare at me.
“Maybe I will send you back with him.” I knew his threat was empty but I had to keep poking fun.
“Then you’d be lonely,” I pointed out. “Plus, I tie all this treasure together when I’m on your back. Really, I’m the focal point. Demi gods and bat monsters want at me all the time.” Tamatoa blinked and just stared at me for a moment.
“I don’t know whether to throw you or laugh,” he finally said and turned back around.
“I prefer laughter.”
“Goodnight Kala.” Tamatoa sighed and laid his head down.
“You used my name!” I felt a huge smile tug at my lips. “I think that’s the first time you’ve used my name.”
“I always use your name,” Tamatoa pointed out.
“Yeah but you used my actual name,” I giggled. “Goodnight Tamatoa.” We fell silent, the only sounds coming from the wilds of Lalotai. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen now. With Maui here, everything changed. He was my ticket back to the surface but at the same time, the thought of me leaving left me sad. I had grown so used to talking to Tamatoa that I really did consider him a friend. My first and only friend. I didn’t want to give that up for anything.
Chapter 7: A different monster
Kala learns a little more about Tamatoa and how he got to where he was now
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
When I woke up, I could smell fish cooking. I rubbed my eyes and peered over the ledge of the boat, trying to find the source of food. I saw flickering light coming from the cave entrance and heard low humming. Tamatoa was still asleep so I quietly got up and crawled off his shell. I made some noise when I landed but it wasn’t enough to wake Tamatoa up thankfully. I made my way out of the cave and towards the fire. Maui was sitting with his back turned to the entrance, his frame illuminated by the flames. It was then I noticed he had two fires. The second one was down to the coals and Maui was cooking various things wrapped in leaves on it.
“Good morning,” Maui said in greeting and turned around, holding out a piece of fish on a leaf. “Hungry?” I nodded and sat beside him, accepting the fish and waiting for it to cool a bit before digging in. Maui just watched the food and stoked the fire, it’s warmth a welcome feeling. Lalotai was cold sometimes, especially when it was night time. I knew it was dangerous to have a fire going in the open like this but Maui could take care of himself. He had more than enough tattoos to prove it.
“Why did you come here?” I asked. “You two don’t really get along.”
“I wanted to fix what happened between us,” Maui replied. “That wasn’t the first time we fought, and I know it won’t be the last, but I never apologized for his leg and then Moana and I left him on his back...I just felt like an apology was needed.”
“Why did you rip his leg off?” I finished the fish and was handed some fruit which I quickly took a bite out of. I felt like this was going to be quite the story.
“Tamatoa used to come up to the surface with me,” Maui began. “We’d visit islands and go on adventures. Tamatoa has always been wild, his nature to be a monster is too strong. I could keep it under control most times but then...well, one day there was a human who said too much. He insulted Tamatoa and even threw a spear at him. Of course, a small spear wouldn’t cause any damage physically but Tamatoa is very touchy on certain subjects and, well, it set Tamatoa off and he went after this human. I, of course, had to stop him before any damage was done. First I tried to stand in his way but he pushed me aside. Then I swung my hook and grabbed his leg but I pulled too hard. With Tamatoa going one way and me pulling the other...well, you can see what happened.”
I had stopped eating, the fruit forgotten in my hand as Maui spoke. I never knew the real story of Maui and Tamatoa’s fight. All I knew was that Maui beat the great Tamatoa and ripped his leg of as a trophy. But this...this version was sadder. It was an accident and it was clear Maui regretted it.
“Why did this man throw a spear at Tamatoa?”
“He was a new comer,” Maui said. “He’d never seen such a giant crab before and he got scared. Tamatoa did what Tamatoa does best and tried to scare the kid away but that only made the human retaliate. It was just a series of bad things all at once.”
“Then what happened?” I asked. I was leaning towards Maui, eager to hear more.
“He turned on me,” Maui replied. “Started saying I cared more about the humans and he came after me. We fought for a long time. People were injured regardless because of the destruction our fighting caused. I think someone even died. None of them blamed me though. They all knew I was trying to protect them. They all blamed Tamatoa and the villager. I eventually had Tamatoa cornered, and he knew it was defeat, so he sulked off back here. I just shrugged it off and went on my way, thinking nothing of it. I was stupid back then. I just wanted to be a hero.”
“What happened to the villager who caused this?” I asked.
“I don’t know. He wasn’t around after Tamatoa left,” Maui shrugged. “Too ashamed to show his face I suppose. He was just a kid.”
“Oh...” We sat quietly for a bit, eating and watching Lalotai. I almost found it peaceful. I had been here for so long that it didn’t phase me anymore. “Could you...could you tell me another story? Something no one else knows about?” Maui chuckled but obliged.
“Hmm...another story, huh?” He scratched his head while he thought. “Oh! Let me tell you about the time that Tamatoa and I defeated a giant squid monster that was destroying boats.” I wrapped my arms around my knees, my chin resting on them, and got ready for the story. “It was a village far from here. The people had never even heard of me before. Tamatoa and I had set sail to find new islands and bring back any exotic items we could. Treasure, food, healing items, the whole lot. What we found instead was a lot bigger.” Maui continued with the story, his arms waving to show just how big the monster was. He told of how heroic Tamatoa was when he saved some humans from drowning after their ship was smashed. I bit my lip when the monster finally showed up, my eyes lighting up in excitement as Maui described the final battle. He was very good at telling stories, changing his voice during certain moments to add to it. His shadow the fire cast onto the wall made it even better.
When he was done, Maui looked proud of himself, and turned to me for confirmation. I smiled and clapped my hands. Then his face dropped and he looked back at out Lalotai.
“Why don’t you want to go back?” Maui eventually asked. I sighed and brushed a few strands of hair from my face.
“I wasn’t wanted,” I replied. “I feel more welcome here than I ever did at home.”
“I never thought I’d see the day where Tamatoa befriended a human.” Maui shook his head and sighed. “Well Kala, you’ve done something to him. I don’t know what but it’s something. You better get back in there before he wakes up. Don’t need a repeat of yesterday.” I nodded and stood up, brushing the dirt from my skirt.
“Thanks Maui,” I said quietly and headed back into the cave. I knew I wouldn’t be able to get back on Tamatoa’s shell so I sat down beside him instead.
“Have a nice little chat?”
“Mmm...how long have you been awake?” Tamatoa turned his head towards me but he didn’t look angry.
“Not very long,” he replied. “I could hear you two out there.”
“Sorry if we woke you. He was making food and I was hungry,” I leaned against his claw and Tamatoa hummed.
“Don’t bother asking me to forgive him because I won’t,” Tamatoa said.
“I wasn’t going to.”
“You should still talk to him though,” I added. “And just talk. No yelling or fighting.”
“And why,” Tamatoa brought his eyes closer to me. “would I do that?”
“Because it might do you some good.” I looked towards the cave entrance. “It’s ultimately up to you but that’s my suggestion.” Tamatoa seemed to think it over for a moment before moving away.
I sighed and shook my head but didn’t push it. Instead, I leaned on his claw again and closed my eyes. Maui had starting humming again and it was quite soothing. I could feel sleep pulling at me again and I decided not to fight it. A few more hours wouldn’t hurt, it was still pretty early. Maybe Tamatoa would think over what I said and actually give Maui a chance. With that in mind, I let sleep take me.
The chapter I've been waiting for! The backstory of Tamatoa and Maui! I added in an extra story because I wanted to make the chapter a little longer and I thought it would be fun.
Chapter 8: Truth and Lies
Maui tries to get help before it's too late while Kala and Tamatoa spend the day together.
Sorry this took so long. I recently moved and didn't get internet until yesterday! But I'm back now! Yay!
I woke up to Tamatoa singing as he fixed up his cave. The nights events came rushing back to me and I sighed.
“Morning princess,” Tamatoa broke off from singing, his eyes turning to look at me. “I thought we could go exploring today.”
“Exploring?” I asked through a yawn, sitting up and rubbing my eyes.
“Yeah. For treasures and other things,” Tamatoa explained. “We can search different caves, look at the monsters, eat some fruit-”
“Do you think doing something ‘fun’ will stop her from coming back with me?” Maui’s voice rang out through the cave and Tamatoa’s face dropped, anger glinting from his eyes.
“She’s not going back,” Tamatoa replied flatly, his eyes looking towards Maui. “Give it up already.”
“Lalotai is no place for a human!” Maui groaned and ran a hand through his hair. “Why can’t you understand that? She’s already been hurt by the creatures down here.”
“And I’ve been keeping her safe since.” Tamatoa’s tone was final and he started walking out of the cave. Maui had to jump out of the way to avoid being stepped on.
“She’s not a possession! She’s a human!” Maui called after us but Tamatoa paid him no mind.
“’She’s not a possession! She’s a human!’” Tamatoa mimicked once we were far enough away, dropping his voice down to match Maui’s. “What does he think of me? Saying I only see you as a possession.”
“I make a pretty one anyways,” I tried, wanting to cheer him up. It worked a little. Tamatoa snorted at my comment.
“That you do,” Tamatoa agreed.
“And besides, I like it down here. I don’t have to deal with something I had nothing to do with,” I shook my head. “I can be myself down here.”
“And you have the most amazing friend anyone can ask for.”
“That too,” I laughed. “Now come on. I was promised a fun day.”
- - -
Maui paced the cave, trying to figure out what to do. He was right, Lalotai was no place for a human. Even Moana had been in danger when they ventured down here, all those years ago. But this time was different. Moana wanted to get out. Kala wanted to stay. She claimed she wasn’t wanted by her village but was that entirely true? Maybe she just needed to be reminded of what she had back home.
Maui snapped his fingers has a planned formed in his head. Changing into his hawk form, he flew up towards the water ceiling before shape shifting into a shark so he could swim up to the surface. Once there, he headed west and towards Moloka’i. If anyone could bring Kala back to her home, it was her people. Maui jumped into the air and changed back into a hawk, catching the breeze and flapping his wings with all his might.
The island came into his view few hours later. It was small and shaped like a pear. The villagers lived in the top part, leaving the bigger area for the wilds. They planned it well so they could keep game around. When Maui got close enough, he let out a warning call before landing in the sand, back in his human form.
“Get the chief!”
“Someone go kill a chicken!”
“Please!” Maui cried out. “There is no need to murder an innocent chicken! I have come here on behalf of Kala. She is in danger!” The village people fell silent. There were a few who were just now joining the crowd, all of them waiting to see what Maui had to say. “She’s in Lalotai. The Great Tamatoa has her.” There were a few gasps from the people, others were murmuring to each other.
“Lalotai?” A woman asked.
“Who did she get down there?” Someone else demanded.
“Why was she fool enough to go alone?”
“Tamatoa? The crab king? She’s as good as dead.”
“Please listen to me!” Maui said loudly. “She needs your help! Kala has been tricked, deceived, by Tamatoa. She needs to remember who she is and where she comes from.”
“Kala is not one to fall lightly to the tricks of a monster. Nor would she willingly venture to Lalotai.” The chief had finally arrived, leading a group of people behind him. He stood tall and proud, his crown resting on his head. “She’s headstrong and cunning. She would not-”
“She has,” Maui interrupted. “Forgive me but this is serious. Tamatoa will not give her up. She’s already been injured. I need your help to remind her that this is her home.”
“You would have us risk our lives?” Someone shouted. “For a girl whose father was a thief?”
“I would have you risk your lives for a girl who is a part of this village!” Maui said. “She is not her father, she is her own person. She should be treated as such.”
“It would take us too long to muster up the men to go and it would take days to get there,” The chief shook his head.
“You forget,” Maui said. “I am Maui! Demigod of the wind and sea! Hero to all! I harness the wind to fill your sails!” He held his hands up and a breeze flowed through the village. “I can get you there quickly.”
“And what would we do then?” The chief asked.
“Talk to her,” Maui replied. “Let her know that her village does love her, that her village needs her.” The chief looked Maui over for a moment before sighing and shaking his head.
“You ask too much old friend,” The chief said, sadness lacing his voice. “Not only is Lalotai too dangerous but our village can’t have another run in with Tamatoa. We thank you for saving us that day but we vowed that crab would never harm another soul on this island.”
“So I’ll distract him!” Maui urged. “I’ll lure him away! Steal her if you have to, just get her out.”
“And have the crab follow us?” One of the chief’s men demanded. “Have him rampage through our homes again?”
“Guys, that was years ago! This is now.” A thought struck him just then. “Not to mention that only happened because of your own people.” Maui pointed an accusing finger at the chief. “If that boy hadn’t been stupid and insulted Tamatoa in such a way, none of that would have happened.”
“That boy paid for his crimes,” The chief said stiffly. “We all did.” Maui pursed his lips before nodding.
“I see. So you’ll let another fall victim to Tamatoa,” Maui sighed. “You humans have changed. I guess she was right. You care nothing for her.” With his signature call, Maui transformed into a giant hawk and took off, leaving dust in his wake.
- - -
My heart was pounding as I ran through the trees. Some branches whipped me in the face but I paid them no mind. I was panting loudly and my legs were starting to burn but I kept running. I had to get away, I had to hide. I could hear the thundering footsteps behind me, they were so close. I had to keep going. I had to make it. I had to-
I felt a claw grab my waist and I screamed.
“Got you!” Tamatoa cheered. “Told you you couldn’t out run me.”
“Hey! I almost made it!” I panted. We had made a bet to see if I could make it to the cave before he caught me. He even gave me a head start, just to be fair. Tamatoa set me on his back and headed towards the cave. I was happy to note that I was quite close before he caught me.
We had spent the day hunting for treasures, a few Tamatoa was even letting me keep, and exploring Lalotai. None of the other monsters tried to harm me while I was with Tamatoa, thankfully, but there was one who thought it was brave enough to attempt a kidnapping. He had made a nice lunch for Tamatoa.
Maui had stayed away and it kind of made me curious what he was up to. I couldn’t see him outside the cave and he was no where to been seen inside either. Tamatoa didn’t seem to notice or care, he was just happy enough to add more gold to his ever growing pile of treasures. He placed each one with precision and care, always making sure the angle was perfect so the light would hit it.
“Everything is so shiny,” Tamatoa sang as he worked. “Watch it sparkle like a diamond in the ruff...You’re going to stay here forever, right?”
“What Maui said this morning...you wouldn’t leave with him? You’re going to stay here?” Tamatoa didn’t look at me, refused to actually.
“Well...I’m only human. I can’t live forever. Eventually I’ll die,” I looked out towards Lalotai. “But I’ll stay as long as I can.” Tamatoa nodded. “Why do you keep asking? That’s, like, the third time so far. Are you that worried?”
“I’m not worried!” Tamatoa said and puffed himself up. “Why should I worry? Who would ever want to leave me? I’m the best thing ever!” I sighed and shook my head. Of course he wouldn’t admit it.
“I’d miss you too Tamatoa,” I said and Tamatoa tensed up for a moment before relaxing.
“You’re the only friend I’ve have in years,” Tamatoa said quietly. “Of course I’m worried he’ll take you back.” He went back to rearranging his treasures while I thought over his words. Maybe he wasn’t too proud to admit it. Slowly, I reached down and placed my hand on his neck, causing him to pause for only a moment before he went back to work again. We spent the rest of the evening in silence, which I was happy to do.