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The Ocean's Gift

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At first, Moana didn’t realize what the Ocean had done when it chose her. For a time after Te Fiti, life seemed… perhaps not normal, but good. She taught her tribe the art of Wayfinding, and they set out beyond the reef once more. They found a dozen islands within an easy day or two’s travel, scoured clean by the Blight, restored by Te Fiti, and now just waiting to be settled once more. There were still storms and monsters, of course, but the storms were now less, and Maui often flew with the ships and drove any monsters that came too near back to Lolotai. Moana would not notice until much later that the weather was always good and the monsters were few when she sailed with her people.

A new village was planted on one of the larger islands, which they named Katamaui. Both Motonui and Katamaui grew, new children being born every year. Moana herself wedded Mattimeo, a handsome young man with bright eyes and clever fingers and a love of sea and wave almost as deep as hers. She lay with him, and bore children, and was happy. And the years kept passing.

At first, Moana thought she was merely aging well. After all, neither of her parents had shown grey hairs until they were well into their fifties. It wasn’t until her father’s funeral that she was forced to confront the truth. She’d continued aging for the first few years after Te Fiti, but that had long stopped. She was older now than her father had been when she left to find Maui, but she looked barely half her age. For that matter, the eldest of her children looked almost the same age as her.

That night, while the rest of the tribe was scattered around the bonfires, celebrating her father’s memory and legacy, Moana slipped away into the night. She found herself up atop the island’s tallest peak, in the circle of chiefs. As she gazed out into the night, thoughts chased each other through her head.

I am chief now.

Those are my people down there. Mine to guide, mine to lead, mine to protect. That’s the bargain. They gave me their loyalty, and I owe them in return all the skill and all the wisdom I have. To do any less would be to dishonor Father’s legacy.

Or would it? Do I deserve to be chief when I am no longer even human? Don’t those people deserve a chief who is one of them?

There was a flash of blue-white light behind her, and Maui’s voice spoke out of the darkness from behind her. “So you finally figured it out, huh?”

“How long have you known?” asked Moana, not turning around.

“I started to suspect almost as soon as I met you,” said Maui. “I know how the gods operate. They don’t give out the kind of power you were throwing around without changing you to make you able to bear it. And you were just that little bit too strong, too tough. A human girl couldn’t have survived some of what you did. But as for actually knowing… five years, maybe ten.”

Moana turned around. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

Maui was standing just outside the circle of chiefs, leaning on his fishhook. “At first, because I wasn’t sure. After that… I know how hard the life of a demigod can be. I wanted you to have the opportunity to live as a mortal for as long as possible.”

“So now what do I do?” asked Moana.

“You’re asking me?” laughed Maui. “Moana, I have been trying, and mostly failing, to find a good answer to that question for millennia.”

“Then enlighten me with the benefit of your vast experience,” retorted Moana.

“Well…” said Maui, spinning his hook around. “You could stay on as a kind of chief of chiefs. You’re smart, kind, and charismatic. Your people could do a lot worse than having you as their supreme leader for the next few millennia. Or you could join me, roam the seas hunting down monsters and searching out treasures for humanity. Or you could go the “cryptic oracle” route, set yourself up a little hut on one of the smaller islands and hand out wisdom to those who seek you out.” His tone grew more serious. “Or, if you really wanted, there are things that can kill even us. If you went looking, you’d find one eventually.”

“I hadn’t thought of that,” admitted Moana.

“I have,” replied Maui. “Came pretty close to it a few times on that island.”

There was a long pause, and then a thought flashed across Moana’s mind.

“Oh Te Fiti, what about my children?” she asked.

Maui winced. “One of the great curses of being a demigod,” he replied. “I sired more than a few children before Te Fiti. Even with this face, a man who does the kinds of things I did gets plenty of women throwing themselves at him. And those children grew old and died, just like any other mortals.”

“Oh,” said Moana.

There was another long pause. Moana turned back around and gazed out into the night.

“Was it worth it?” she asked after a while. “All the stunts, all the fame and glory, was it worth it in the end?”

“Yes and no,” replied Maui after a moment. “The glory, the masses chanting my name, that never really satisfied. But then, every so often, I’d meet someone like you. Real friends, people worth getting to know. And I knew that it was because of what I’ve done that people like you continued to live and be happy. So yes, in the end it was worth it.”

“I think I understand,” said Moana. She turned around again and continued. “And now, I am going to go back down this mountain, and I am going to join my people in celebrating everything my father was. All the rest can wait for tomorrow.”

Maui smiled. “Got it. See you around, Moana.” With a flash of blue, he shifted into a hawk and flew away.

“See you around, Maui,” replied Moana, before setting off down the path. Her tribe awaited.