The setting sun had dipped behind the crest of the island, leaving a faint splash of rose and lavender above the water and nothing but indigo and black above the peaks of the mountains encircling the singular oval of land. The waves gently bounced up the pale, lifeless shore, and a strong wind shook the foliage growing on the mountainsides. Amid the dark silhouettes of the mountains, a single point of light was visible.
A man in a green tunic stood at the entrance to a cave bathed in orange firelight. The orange lightened and tinted the back of his tunic, knife, and hairless head. A swath of his face beyond the firelight were the body’s normal colors, but further away was the front left in blue shadows. The man stared out at the water, one hand clenched at his side, the other set gently over the hunting knife in its leather sheath.
“Gane,” came an adult, male voice from further back in the cave.
“Yes?” said the bald man without turning.
“Dol says that the merchants saw whales passing by the shores today. The whole town is talking about it. It’s just as the strangers said.”
“They follow the orcas following the whales,” Gane finished. “Do we know how far behind they’ll be?”
“Dol says no one’s sure. It’s never happened before, and communication isn’t easy when visitors can’t speak.”
“Mmm,” Gane hummed. “Tell everyone we’ll be staying here until the Cambians arrive. Forage and hunt, but on the seaward side of the mountains.”
“Gane, what about the girl? Shouldn’t we keep searching for her?”
“If the girl escapes, we can manage. But if we allow the Cambians to reach the town? Unequivocal disaster.”
“We’re canceling the raid?”
“Yes. No one except Dol goes anywhere near town. Not until I see the Cambians dead.”