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Chapter Six

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Ikshu, I found out, wasn't that great of a fishing teacher.

We stopped at a nice fishing spot at where the creek bent, and Ikshu gave me a spear. He told me that you "had to be quicker than lightning," or else the fish would sense you coming for it. I rolled my shoulders, and took a stance, casting over the water.

Ikshu pulled me back a foot or so. "You cannot be over water. Fish will know you are there."

I nodded and made sure that my shadow wasn't in the water, too. Some fish bolted by, about mid-stream, with no chances of me catching one. I turned to Ikshu, but he was already walking away. "Ikshu!" I called. He stopped, but didn't turn around. "Where are you going?"

I could hear a heavy sigh come from Ikshu. "There are threats." Was all he said. He started again, running this time. When he disappeared, I suddenly felt utterly alone. No fish decided to show from the undergrowth of the creek, so I stood there for a long time, feeling foolish with my spear in hand.

What would Papa say, if he saw this? He wouldn't approve, that's for sure. The homesickness that had overwhelmed me was starting to creep into my whole body. It felt like toxic water being poored into my viens. I knew it wouldn't stop until I got home, but I still had a little under a month and a half left. My head pounded.

I knew what was eventually going to happen. My feet would get the best of me.

I would run away from these savages.

At that thought, Ikshu came back, barely even breathing hard. I looked at him differently, now. Every detail about him was more clear--right down to his build, which was very strong, but not that muscular. His eyes were permanatly awake, but calm enough to make me feel a little bit better.

Ikshu eyed my spear, and it occurred to me how pathetic I probably looked to him. Their hostage, not even able to catch a measly fish. What good was I? But instead of saying these things, Ikshu calmly put his hands out, and I set the spear down in his palms.

He showed me the correct stance, spear over head, and body crouched. Soon after he did this, some fish eventually came out, cautious. Ikshu sent the spear down quicker than I could realize what was happening, and in the water was a tiny splash of the fish. He smiled and pulled the fish out.

I went up to him. "That was great!"

The air changed to a crisp, filling with the scent of berries and pine needles. Ikshu stared at his fish a moment longer, then closed his eyes for a chant. I stood back, not knowing really what he was doing, and felt awkward. Like when you accidently go to a different church than yours, and the customs are so different that you just...sit there. You go along with the prayers and such, but you have no idea how to perform.

Grace took me to her church, once. She seemed so happy to take me, but I was filled with anxiety. The church was so different than mine, even though it was just across the dirt road from mine. That's how they met, actually. Grace, coming from her church, and Papa, delivering to Grace's church, were crossing the street when they happened to bump into each other.

Ikshu opened his eyes. His eyes met mine. "We always must thank the spirit for it's sacrifice to us. If not, then the spirit will never rest."

I nodded, going along with Ikshu. He set the fish in his sack; he always carried it around his shoulders, in case it was needed. Then he gave the spear back to me. "Now, it is your turn."

I gulped. My feet found themselves back in their original position by the water, trying to take the stance that Ikshu had done. The sun was in my eyes, casting off the rippling water, so it was almost impossible to see the fish. But every once in a while, something shiny would go across my vision.

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