Chapter Thirteen

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All three of us were crammed aboard the raft, elbow to elbow with the villagers.

Many had welcomed us into their ranks with a cheerful grin and a soft word. Pan had saved one of their own, so it seemed only necessary that we were warmly received.

But a few remained suspicious of Pan and me, including the haughty Chief himself.

He cuddled in a corner with Tiger Lily and Calla close into his side, but his eyes remained focused on a certain red-haired man. Suspicion radiated from him in waves.

Tiger Lily and Calla had no such qualms. They were passed out, each snuggled around the other, their hair mingling in a single dark wave. Soft snores echoed from them in quiet bursts.

For the second time that day, I was smacked with their resemblance. Calla was almost an exact copy of her mother, mannerisms and all..

Between the Chief's and Tiger Lily's attitudes, it was far too easy to see that they shared a joint leadership. Some of the villagers were more traditional in the ways of the man while the others were revolutionary with the woman's views.

I shook my head. Those twisting politics were far too complex for me at that moment.. Instead, I turned my attention towards something far more interesting to a child.

The salty wind stung my face, the tangy air burned my nose and eyes, but I kept my eyes focused firmly on the water slipping past beneath us.

If there were fairies, Indians, and pirates plaguing this island, then there had to be at least a sign of mermaids. They were shifty and slippery, but they  were also a valuable part of my grandma's tale. I wanted to unravel their existence as much as I did Pan's, and hopefully figure out Grandma along the way.

Neverland had been her saving grace, and I wanted to unravel what had gone wrong since then. Its magic had been drained completely, leaving behind a hollow island. Mysteries were the very air upon which Pan flew.

This place was plagued with a weariness that set me on edge. Darkness held onto every single leaf. Who knew what every bend and nook held? What dangers snuck around in the shadows?

As we reached the sandy shore, the Chief blocked our escape onto the solid ground. He held his tanned hand towards me, an accusing gesture that drew everyone's attention.

"Who's this? Another child to join your limitless harem, I presume?" He mocked with an arrogant air. A bitter note slid just underneath that arrogance, a reminder of some past tragedy that had refused to heal properly.

Pan brushed his words aside with an insignificant wave of his hand. "Of course not! I don't keep a harem." He was nonchalant, his tone one of great unimportance and ease. His stance was relaxed, but I caught the flash of guilt that washed across his cerulean eyes.

What had my savior done? Everyone upon this island was out for a taste of his blood, and yet, not a single crime rose to the surface. Everything was distinctly hidden away under an opaque veil.

The Chief laughed deeply, but there was no humor within his chuckles. His eyes glared at the red-haired man before him. "No?" He asked, his words mockingly bitter. "Then how do you explain where all those children go?" His fingers curled into two tight fists. The mock left his words in the next second, anger swiftly replacing it. The man advanced towards Pan swiftly. "Where Narcissus went?"

Tiger Lily, the bright bubble of independence and courage, slid into the space between the two men. She shoved the Chief backwards, her hands lingering as she followed his retreat. "Do not bring him up, Kunal. The boy saved our daughter. We should be thankful for that."

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