A small island in Polynesia sat peacefully
in a sea of pure aquamarine, a virtual paradise,
a beautiful rich green tropical land
that at its center, bared the mark of its ancient beginnings:
a volcano, tall and majestic,
that occasionally grumbled with displeasure,
and shook the island enough
to reign fear over its tribal inhabitants.
A peace loving people
but strongly superstitious were they,
and the grumbling volcano was to them,
a sign the volcano god was discontented
and through sacrifice needed to be appeased;
so a young virgin would be chosen by ballot
and ceremoniously cast into the inferno,
thus ensuring the safety of their village.
In their history the volcano had never erupted
and they all believed that sacrifice was their saving,
but a fifteen year old virgin was a great sacrifice,
and each time it had occurred over the years
it was a tragic affair,
and the loss felt profoundly by one and all;
but belief and security were strong motivators,
as the years had attested.
For three days the volcano had moaned and grumbled,
thick black smoke rose in billowing clouds,
gathering overhead, the danger imminent,
and the villagers were deeply troubled,
faced yet again with another ballot
and the ritual that took one of their own,
a young life cut short
to secure the village’s future.
The king himself was the most concerned
as his youngest daughter had come of age
and would be in this coming ballot;
she was terrified,
the prospect of being burned alive, horrendous,
and she prayed and prayed she would be saved
from this harsh but necessary death
to ensure the longevity of her people.
The following day as the sun rose from the sea,
the King stood before his people
and dug deep into the ballot box to chose the name
of the virgin who would save them all;
but when he read the name,
his hand began to shake incessantly,
the tears welling in his big brown eyes, for
it was his youngest daughter, his beautiful innocent love.
Mira, the King’s daughter simply fainted,
the realization too much to bare,
and the villagers sobbed with despair,
a princess to sacrifice, a most harsh and disagreeable plight,
yet it was the gods who determined this,
and for their survival it would be accepted,
their very future at risk.
So at dusk, the villages climbed the long winding track
to the top of the angry volcano,
carrying torches and chanting all the way,
the princess, hands bound and her hair adorned
with a myriad of wild flowers,
walked stoically, dressed in a virginal white robe;
when they reached to top, there was
a platform over the edge of the huge fiery opening.
The heat from the lava was stinging
and the sulfur smell overwhelming,
as the King sobbed and Mira looked down into her momentary future,
the bubbling molten lava so far below, beckoned;
the village priestess walked forward
and moved Mira to the edge of the platform,
you will never be forgotten, she whispered,
as she pushed Mira off the edge;
Mira uttered not a sound.
With a thud, Mira landed upon a small, rocky shelf,
and a dark figure quickly dragged her
inside a deep adjoining cave;
’twas an Oga, a short and grotesque form was he,
hairy and most disagreeable,
mumbling incoherently as he took her down a long torch-lit passage
that opened out into a huge dome-like area;
and there they were met by five maidens,
dressed similarly in soiled white robes.
Care for her, and let me know when she awakens, he said,
and the maidens rushed to care for Mira,
cleaned her grazes and washed her soiled face,
until she awoke with a fright;
is this a dream, or am I dead, asked Mira, confused,
neither my dear, the Oga saved us all and here we live,
learning knowledge of life and to sight of the seer.
There is no god that reigns over this volcano,
and the King is wrong, sacrifice a pointless gesture,
as you will learn; for now rest,
all will be revealed soon enough.
When she awoke the following day,
the Oga stood beside her,
and as she gasped at his unsettling sight,
he assured her of her safety and did explain her plight.
The Oga had resided within the caves of the volcano
for many years, and when he arrived at the island,
with all his scrolls and books, there were no inhabitants,
so he settled into the caves and spent his time learning of the world,
the afterlife and the powers at hand,
until he became a powerful creature indeed;
then the villagers arrived.
He watched with hope, but when they chose to sacrifice
their own in order to appease the volcano’s grumbling,
he knew he had to intervene,
and from that time on he saved the virgins
and gave them a life a study, of knowledge and one day,
to save their families from their own superstitions,
when their greatest fears come to fruition.
The six virgins became a formidable power,
each and together with visions of future and the reality of worlds,
did learn of humanity and the failings
that did bring grief and suffering,
and in time a vision came to each virgin,
of fire and smoke and sulfur,
and they all knew the volcano was to purge,
bringing lifeless destruction to their beloved island.
Is this true asked Mira, all the virgins by her side,
and the Oga nodded with sadness,
I knew this day would come and it is you now
who hold the village within your hands;
it is time to go home my beauties
and warn them of this impending disaster,
so they may escape.
The next day the Oga and his six virgins
walked down a jungle path to the village by the water,
and as they entered screams were heard,
as if ghosts had returned to reek vengeance,
yet it was the King himself, having seen his beloved daughter,
rushed to her without fear,
praising the gods for her life and return.
The villagers re-untied with their lost daughters with such joy,
none even questioned the why or how,
and at first they kept distance from the Oga,
his sight just as much a shock, but he was and eloquent soul,
whose soft educated voice gave assurance of his person,
and so he was embraced, fed
and given audience with the King.
Your daughters have seen a future
that will in ten short days occur,
for all the volcano’s years of grumble,
it soon will purge and all life upon this paradise will cease,
as fire and lava consume.
Your daughters have returned so that you may all escape,
take your boats, your belongings
and leave before it is too late.
You are fishermen, mariners and your boats are strong,
so ten days you have to laden those boats and make ready,
a new island awaits you,
and their you shall all flourish without false gods and danger,
so go with your daughters, listen to them,
for they are connected to the world
in ways you will never understand.
The Oga then left quietly.
For ten days the villagers made ready,
the boats filled with food stuffs, water
and their precious belongings,
and as the boats lined up against the shore,
the volcano began to splutter, red fiery projectiles spewing out
as smoke billowed upward, and the earth did shake,
as the villages boarded their boats and slowly caste off.
Up upon a ledge far up the side of the volcano,
the Oga smiled, watching the villagers flee,
knowing that his life had purpose
and that his knowledge would be passed on
through these six virgins.
He was old, and cared not to start again,
his work was done and his heart filled with warmth
could go on no longer:
two hundred years was quite enough.
Belief is a dangerous thing,
that can give reason to actions of such grievous loss,
and rarely will what we sacrificed come back to save us,
but knowledge is a freedom that brings the best out in people,
and forgiveness, although unwarranted, can heal anything,
for there is always tomorrow,
another opportunity to love.