Chapter 25: Consequences

Summon Ahohako (44)

Puaura could not stop smiling as she looked back and forth from Ahohako to Ahio – her Ahio. The real Ahio, who had returned to his own body. He and Ahohako seemed overjoyed, laughing and hopping around in the sand like kids. She imagined that the way they felt was somewhat like her when she was finally able to walk again on her own legs. Summon Ahohako (28)

“But what do you think Maui meant when he said there would be consequences?” Puaura asked after the excitement had settled down. They didn’t have to wait long to find out. First, Puaura fell ill. Her skin stung, as though she were being attacked by jellyfish. “What’s wrong with me?” she asked, holding her stomach. Then, Ahio let out a groan and collapsed to the sand. Puaura rushed toward him, but was suddenly twisted into the air by a swirl of wind and water.

“Puaura!” cried Ahohako. But there was nothing he could do to stop it. When Puaura was released from the watery cyclone, she had changed. And so had Ahio.

Summon Ahohako (66)Summon Ahohako (61)

“I can’t believe it!” said Ahio, gaping at his and Puaura’s legs, which were now covered in colorful, glittering scales.

“No!” Ahohako stared in horror. “This is all my fault! I didn’t mean for this to happen!”

But Puaura began to laugh. “I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be a mermaid,” she said. “It always looked like more fun than diving with scuba gear.” Before anyone could respond, she ran toward the sea and dived into the waves. Her scale-encrusted legs immediately transformed into a strong purple tail, which thumped against the water, propelling her forward. She twisted and glided through the water as easily as a fish. Soon, Ahio and Ahohako joined her. “This is the best thing that has ever happened to me,” said Puaura. “I was born and raised right here on the sea. This is where I belong.”

Summon Ahohako (69) Summon Ahohako (4)

Puaura and Ahio were more deeply in love than ever. And one day, for the second time, Ahio asked her to marry him. “Yes, I’ll marry you again,” she said, slipping on the ring.

“Well technically, you never married me,” said Ahio. “Just my body.”

“Then this time,” said Puaura, “I will marry your body, your mind, and your spirit.”

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And so she did. And after that, the three friends lived together, dividing their time between life on land, raising Tane, and life in the ocean. As Maui had lifted the decades-long ban on visitors, many tourists began to come to the islands, often making a stop at Meherio Inn, where Puaura, Ahio, and Ahohako treated them to world-class service and free magic shows. And every night, Puaura would gather a crowd around the bonfire and tell them the stories her parents had passed on to her, about Tangaroa, the Treasure of Rongo, and the mysterious mer-people of the Matahina Islands.

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“Are any of those stories true?” the guests would often ask, wide-eyed with wonder.

Puaura would smile. “Some would say they are nothing more than fish-tales. But others would say that if mana is strong in you, then you will believe. And when you do, you will feel the truth beating inside of you like the great Treasure of Rongo.” As it still beat within her. As it would always continue to beat.

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