Adaro -- The Wrong Lake

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21 of The Bestiary A buddy story with a bizarre interruption.

The Bestiary

Adaro -- The Wrong Lake By: Tyvara

Rua walked with his otter friend Kahil. His slower, turtle limbs couldn't quite keep up with the swiftness of his fishing buddy. Often, Kahil would dash into the forest, leaving Rua struggling to catch up; once hid did, he'd find Kahil lounging in a tree or picking flowers without a care in the world. Since they'd left to search out a new fishing hole early that morning, Kahil had done this at least three times. His excitable behavior continually left Rua to mire through the mud and muck of the jungle on his own. After Kahil vanished a fourth time, Rua decided to say something when he caught up.

Rua panted, his limbs wobbling beneath his heavy shell while he edged around rocks that would trip up his slow feet. "Why can't you just walk with me? Why make me rush so much?" Rua paused to shift the weight of his fishing nets slung over his shoulders. "I hate when you leave me on my own. I might as well find a new fishing spot on my own." Rua stumbled as the ground ahead sloped into a hill.

When Kahil jumped down from the overhanging tree branch, his loincloth flapped about his thighs until he landed feet first, on the ground. "If I didn't give you a reason to hustle, you'd dawdle all day and we'd never get to fishing." He walked to Rua's side, and thrust his brown arm underneath Rua's armpit and around his shell. With a bit of pulling he helped his friend over the hill.

"I don't dawdle." Rua gripped Kahil's shoulder, letting his friend help him. "I'm perspicacious and circumspect."

"Those are just fancy words for slow. Smart I'll give you, but still slow."

Kahil's quick pulling dragged a few of Rua's footfalls through mud, which slipped them up a bit, but, sooner than Rua could have done alone, they made it to the top. Unhanding Rua, Kahil stepped back to give Rua room.

Rua tottered, his arms wide, regaining his balance. "You suggested this arrangement." Steady once again, Rua resumed following Kahil through the underbrush. "You spear them. I net them. You sniff out fishing sites with that keen sense of yours, and I keep track of where we fish, so we don't overuse the best areas. We split the spoils."

"That's because I'd rather deal with a slowpoke like you, than fish with my brothers. It's all competition with them. At least with you I can hone my skills." Kahil jabbed at the air with mock fishing moves.

"I'm too slow to compete with you. That's why I'm a net fisher. Slow and steady, that's how we turtles get things done -- with patience and care."

"And that's why I keep you around, my shelled reptile." He threw an arm around Rua's shoulder and shell.

When he patted the back of Rua's bumpy shell, the vibrations shook through his frame. The thunk even echoed within the shell's chamber.

"You complement the skills I lack," Kahil continued, "We're a perfect team." After the bonding moment had passed, Kahil turned away, his tail twitching in a show of his need to dash off again.

To keep him close-by, Rua changed the subject. "Let's just hope this fishing hole is better than the last one your 'special sense' uncovered." Rua couldn't help the subtle smirk forming on his lips. He can't resist defending himself.

Kahil's tail stopped twitching, and he looked back at Rua. "That wasn't my fault." He thumped his tail against a passing tree to accentuate his point. "My gift just knows where the most fish are. Everything else is up to chance."

Leaves fell across Rua's path, but he eyed the upturned roots ahead. Plotting his next course through the jungle thicket, Rua did his best to keep up with Kahil's faster pace. "Yeah, well sometimes that chance threatens our lives." Rua referred to their last encounter, but every so often, Kahil's fish-sense got them into trouble.

"No one's life was in danger." Kahil dismissed the notion with a flick of his brown-furred hand. "I got you out of there fast enough."

"Yes." Rua nodded. "Just in time to watch that monster leer up from the bog and slash my nets to pieces with his teeth."

"I helped you weave new ones. What more do you want as penance?" Flinging his arms in the air, Kahil, let out an exasperated groan. His pace finally slowed until they were side-by-side.

Rua couldn't resist chuckling at his friend's behavior, and covered his mouth to stifle the sounds. It amused him at how quick Kahil was to everything -- even overreacting.

Kahil stared at him with his eyebrows skewed and a grimace on his face. "If I didn't respect you," he pointed an accusatory finger at Rua, "I'd punch you in the face. Sometimes your goading is worse than my brothers'."

"And I keep telling you; you're too easy to manipulate." After pausing to look around where they were, Rua's smile fell. "Still, you should keep an eye out this time. I've heard tales of an Adaro owning a lake up a hilly path like this one." Rua couldn't stay still long, and he huffed after Kahil again.

"An Adaro? How can you be so superstitious?" Kahil paused. "Who says?"

"A friend of my cousin lost his fishing partner at such a lake. He told us the story at our tribal meetings a month ago." The path ahead leveled and the large debris gave way to a flat stretch of dirt and leaves. Now, Rua, could tell his story without too much concentration spent on maneuvering obstacles.

"He and his neighbor were looking for their next fishing hole. They hadn't been having good luck with it, and were running out of new territory, so they decided to try the harder paths. After making it up a few sets of hills they came to a lake.

Before they even reached the bank, they could see it teamed with fish, the water almost bubbling with frenzied feeding. Their hunger made them rash, and they threw in their nets without a thought.

The second their nets touched the water, a school of flying fish launched from the lake, covering the two. My cousin's friend retracted into his shell quicker than his neighbor. He waited in the safety of his shell, listening to his friend's screams of pain, wondering in horror what became of him. When those screams turned into gurgles and finally stopped, maniacal laughter replaced it. He said it sounded like a lunatic laughing as you drowned him, the entire tone of his voice echoing with burbling water. He called the fishers fools, saying 'The Adaro protects his fishes.' Then returned to his lake in a flurry of crazy laughter.

When my cousin's friend peaked his head from his shell, his neighbor lay beside him, shell and bones. According to him, the turtle looked as if the fish had crawled into his shell and sucked every last bit of flesh and sinew from him. Terrified he scurried back to his village. Ever since, he's been warning all the tribes of what he witnessed."

Rua remembered the look on the turtle's face when he told the story. Nothing could convince Rua that, that turtle hadn't experienced an encounter with an Adaro and his flesh-eating flying fish.

"You turtles and your stories. And you say I'm easy to manipulate." Kahil shook his head. Suddenly he stopped and held a hand up to stall Rua. "Do you smell that? I think we're getting close." He motioned for Rua to follow, and scurried toward a break in the treetops.

Before Kahil could get too far, subtle laughter echoed through the trees, the eerie sound stopped them both in their tracks.

Kahil looked back at Rua.

Rua's eyes turned up to the sky past the parted trees as the laughter grew louder. Then, like a slow-moving arrow shot across the clearing, a giant cloud emerged, behind which trailed a long shimmering rainbow.

The more Rua stared, he could see that the cloud . . . moved! The cloud was really a school of giant fish, huddling together and flapping their long winged-fins. Atop those fish, his arms and legs crossed, sat a green-skinned, man-creature whose aquatic laughter rang in their ears. Where his nose should be, a short horn protruded and a dorsal fin crowned his head. The entire trip across the sky, the Adaro stared into the sky, his laughter so loud it shook the leaves.

When the Adaro finally disappeared, the rainbow trail fading into the blues of the cloudless sky above them, Rua and Kahil exchanged glances.

"I think," Rua offered, "we should find a different fishing spot."

Kahil nodded. "I'm with you. I don't have a shell to hide in. I really don't need my flesh stripped from my bones by some fish. Or end up some entertainment of a crazy Adaro."

Without another word, Kahil slipped his arm around Rua's shell, and helped usher him down the hill. They'd just have to try their luck another day. With an Adaro in the sky, neither fisher wanted to anger him.

The End


Author's Note:

According to the book, an Adaro is a type of merman from myths in the Solomon Islands. Unlike a merman, it had legs with fins for feet. A shark-like fin sprouts from his head, and a horn sits where its nose should be. It commands an army of flying fish that rip to pieces anyone foolish enough to enter their waters. Solomon Islander's describe an Adaro flying through the air carried by his fish army or flying on a rainbow during storms at sea.

The description makes me think of where Aquaman's ancestry may have come from.

Also I think there should be more turtles in the fandom. I'm doing my part to contribute.

Thanks for reading.