The Kainoi Stanzas
Strofa Uno: Gli Stagioni
(Stanza One: The Seasons)
Book Four: SUMMER’S BANE
He was slow, creeping across yards over tens of minutes, but was balanced, maneuvering around and atop damp rocks with greater fluidity than his webbed feet would seem to allow. Though sluggish, his pace was set aside as the natural pace for a turtle out of water, and the turns of his long neck were assumed to be the perceptive scans of one taking his work seriously, though recruited for it minutes before. He stopped.
Behind him, a margay whose youthful spots were obscured by the cavern’s contrast, and an anteater whose pants were covered in mud from the least amount of balance first focused on the turtle’s ovular, dark-green shell as he bowed between rocks. They then peered to his arms, long and slender and widening to webbed hands as he reached and hoisted. They grinned as he stood with a model sailboat, cracked and moments from shattering, in his grasp. “Is this it?” he asked with fluting tone, his pointed nose rising, and his beady eyes reflecting the light from the cavern’s mouth.
“That’s it!” the anteater blared as he grabbed the boat.
“How did you know it would be down here?” the margay inquired.
“The currents usually pull belongings into the space below the falls, instead of downstream.” The turtle looked to the cavern’s mouth, the light obscuring the outside world, while a whistle chimed. “Let’s head out now; it sounds like ARK has arrived.” He lumbered once more, then with greater sluggishness as he ascended the rocky slant. The children, while examining the sailboat, inched after him, scanning the cavern and sighting pieces of old wood, muddied debris, and gashed remnants.
They passed from the cavern and, with the river illuminated under a nubilous filter, found crowds of dozens along the shorelines, pointing to diminishing pools or scooping up stranded fish. They moved for the shore.
As the turtle stepped onto the grassy shoreline and wiped mud and grime from his wide, shirtless frame and blue-striped green shorts, he angled his neck towards a heron landing before him. While the two children ran past with their battered toy, the turtle grinned. As the heron reared up in a green shirt and white pants, a young adult bobcat jogged along the shoreline, with his side-held short sword jostling as he maneuvered by onlookers. “Hello, sirs”, the turtle spoke as the bobcat bowed to rest on his knees, while the heron, closing his wings, looked about.
“I see you’ve discovered our issue”, the heron spoke.
“Issue?” the turtle repeated, a grin maintained and his neck straight.
“The waterfall?” the bobcat suggested as he pointed. The turtle looked above the cavern, to a hundred-foot-wide and -long precipice of outcroppings and water-smoothed stone damp but void of a cascade. “It’s stopped flowing, and we don’t know why.”
“You’re the nearest water-mover to this location at the moment, and you’re a local so you know these rivers”, the heron added.
“Yes”, the turtle replied with a nod.
“Were you able to investigate anything strange within the caverns?” the bobcat inquired.
“I found a model boat.”
“Right, okay”, the bobcat grunted while grabbing his forehead, “but, is there anything that would stop the water like that.”
“Well, yes, many things”, the turtle replied.
“All right, give us a rundown, and we can get this situation fixed”, the heron ordered.
“Fixed?” The turtle’s grin diminished as he looked to the waterfall. “Is that a problem?”
“Yes, it disrupts the currents”, the heron explained, “and, we have a few hours before the rest of the river dries up.”
“Oh.” The turtle looked downstream. “I apologize.”
“For what?” the bobcat asked.
“The inconvenience.” The turtle pivoted to the waterfall.
“I don’t underst_” the bobcat paused as the turtle waved his left at the fall’s peak. “Officer Nee, what_?” The bobcat tensed at calls sounding from the falls, and he turned to the heron as a rumble rose to a bellow. Both stepped back as a sheath of water rushed over the falls, and both shook their heads as it slammed into the waterfall’s base and barreled downriver. They turned after the reinstated flow, as citizens stepped from the whitewash, and they spun to the turtle staring at the tens of thousands of gallons speeding past.
“Does that help?” Officer Nee inquired as he swiveled his neck back.
“Yes”, the heron muttered, “that’s…” he staggered while shaking his head. “That’ll do, officer.” The heron cleared his throat and opened his wings. He took flight, while Nee looked to the river and inched toward its side, and while the bobcat stumbled back.
Four paces from Nee, and the bobcat crossed his arms; five paces, and he reached for his green shirt’s collar; six, and he pulled it aside and clasped the collar to a second, black shirt. He squeezed. “Objective confirmed”, the bobcat whispered. “It’s him.” He looked to Nee, while Nee, with a grin, listened to the waterfall’s roar.