The sun sank into the Sea of Japan, illuminating fish soaring in the sea skies over the Alegorov mountain range, dividing the Yamato Basin into two empires, the Kaya and the Wa.
An eel train curved around the Pariyan sea mountain, past the deep sea alluvial delta, and chugged down the tracks into the Sandesan deep sea basin, stopping in front of Wa Junior High. Next to the school stood the Ministry of Information, flanked by two conch shell speakers.
Tai sun swam out of the train into the saphrine blue waters, covering his ears to shut out the propaganda blaring from the shells.
THE PEOPLE OF THE WA ARE UNIQUE!
THE LEADER OF THE KAYA IS A TYRANT!
TRUST THE VOICE OF THE MINISTRY OF INFORMATION !
A red tanner crab perched on top of a rock glared at Tai sun. “How dare you cover your ears!” It stretched out its claw and pinched Tai sun on the nose.
“ Patai!” screamed Tai sun.
“Obey the Voice of the New Order!”snapped the crab.
Tai sun glided up the steps of the school, his heart heavy, thinking of the conversation he had with his father that morning. He swam into the classroom and sat next to his best friend, Karain,a diminutive boy with gigantic ears, who was listening to the professor of history, Dr. Tao, a dragon moray eel.
Dr.Tao’s blue eyes penetrated the class. He opened his mouth to speak. “The gods descended from the heavens and created the Kingdom of the Wa. Rumors of interracial contact with the Kaya fly like the fish in the skies but no evidence supports this claim. We, the people of the Wa, have maintained a pure linage for thousands of years, and we will continue to do so into the New Age!” His razor sharp fangs slashed as his nose vibrated on top of his head.
Tai sun raised his webbed hand.
Professor Tao squinted at him. “Yes?”
“The crab Mencius said that the kingdoms of the Kａｙａand Wa were connected millions of years ago by an underground tomb, and that inside the tomb are precious jewels.”
“That old crab likes to tell tales of the ‘Kayawa’ culture that he claims existed. There are no such tombs and no such precious jewels! Furthermore, the Kaya and the Wa people have never been able to communicate with each other,” growled Professor Tao.
“Why not” asked Tai sun.
“Because we don’t speak the same language!”
Tai sun stood up straight. “My father said the tomb does exist. He always wanted to go there when he was a young boy but could never find it. I want to find the tomb for him.
Professor Tao opened his mouth, exposing brown and white stripes..“How dare you question my authority! THERE ARE NO SUCH TOMBS! Go to the Shrine of the Yamato to apologize for your slander!"
Tai sun sat down again, trembling. “Yes sir.”
The translucent boy Shu, floating in back of the class laughed, crimson blood flowing through his veins of indigo. He threw tiny conch shells at the back of Tai sun’s head.
Tai sun and Karain glided out of the classroom. Shu swam up to Karain.
“Hey, why don’tyou buy yourself a cap to cover those kun-gumi?”
Karain looked down. His ears were swollen and red because his mother had no money to buy a cap to cover them. His webbed feet were bare as well.
“Anenemy ,” said Tai sun.
Shu watched as Tai sun and Karain swam across the courtyard to the lunch room. Suddenly Karain slipped into a net trap filled with thousands of small pink shrimp and crabs snapping at his bare webbed feet. He screamed out in pain.
Shu bent over, laughing.
Tai sun helped Karain out of the net, glaring at them. “Bacabo! Leave him alone!”
Shu swam up and punched Tai sun in the face. Tai sun kicked him back in his clearly visible ribs. Shu bowed, howling over in pain. The other boys gathered around in a circle, cheering them on.
Professor Tao swam up to them. “Are you causing trouble again, Tai sun?!”
“Shu started it!”
“He’s a liar! See how he kicked me?” Shu showed Professor Tao his broken rib.
Professor Tao turned to Tai sun. “Go the Shrine of the Yamato and apologize for your wicked behavior!”
After Tai sun prayed at the shrine, he swam to his house at the foot of Olacala Hill. His mother was hanging up clothes on a bioluminescent sea pen clothes line, talking on her shell phone. She clicked off and glared at him.
“Professor Tao called, he said you were fighting with another boy!”
He didn’t answer but swam into his room and sat down on the floor, staring at the red maple leaf starfish clinging to the wall. His pet hunchback sculpin, Sollang, looked up at him from the floor with quiet eyes.
Tai sun smiled down at him. “tonto.”
His mother stuck her head in the bedroom window. “Your father, he’llbe so upset if he hears about this!” She stuck her head back outside into the waters.
Tai sun stared down at the hunchback sculpin, listening to his mother talking to the Sea Snake, the famous gossip of the Yamato Basin.
“I’mworried about him, I don’twant him to hang out with that Karain boy.” Her voice lowered to a whisper. “Do you know what I heard about his mother?
"I can't can’t wait to hear!" hissed the Sea Snake, her voice echoing around the basin.
“I heard that she only works at night.”
The Sea Snake roared with laughter.
Tai sun went to the window and peered out. He saw the Sea Snake, bedecked in a red coral necklace. He watched his white shirt blow off the glowing sea pen and drift down into the sea.
That night he sat at the dinner table, waiting for his father to come home from work. He watched the clock until it turned 11 o’ clock, then went to his room. Lying in his seaweed bed he watched his white shirt floating outside. The pink shrimps on the sand floor lifted their heads to the heavens.
The next day Tai sun and Karain were swimming home from school when they saw the Crab Mencius digging a hole in the bottom of his cave. His friend, a Toyama shrimp, sat on the ground, watching him. Propaganda from the Ministry of Information filled the seascape.
Tai sun swam into the cave. “Kanani?”
“I’m digging a shelter for the submarine volcanic eruption,” said the crab.
“Kasan?” asked Karain.
“Yes, the one predicted by the Jellyfish princess. A volcano could erupt from a plume in the magma.”
“Who is the Jellyfish princess?”
The Crab Mencius didn’tanswer, silently drawing pictures in the sand.
“Please teach us where the tomb is that connects the Kaya and the Wa?” asked Tai sun. “Negaisai.”
“I can’ttell you. Rosry.”
The crab pointed to the pictures in the sand. “There are four deities guarding the tombs. The Blue Dragon guarding the east, the white tiger the west, the Suzaku the south and the Genbu the north. The Genbu protects the precious stones in the tomb and the messenger of peace.”
“Protect the messenger? From what?” asked Karain.
“The monsters in the tombs.”
“Did the Kayawa culture really exist?” asked Tai sun.
“How do you know for sure?”
“We can find the precious stones in both kingdoms.”
“Then please tell us where the tomb is! Negasai!” cried out Karain. .
“Kun-gumi!” The Crab Mencius reached out and tweaked Karain’sears. “Kun-gumi!”
The next day the two boys swam to geology class. Professor Laimok, a moray eel, was lecturing on plate subduction.
Tai sun stood up. “We’re worried because the Crab Mencius predicted a volcanic eruption soon.”
Professor Laimok’seyes, embedded in a matrix of white and black spots, flickered around the room, resting on Tai sun. “There is no chance of volcanic eruption in this area. There is almost zero activity of plate subduction.”
“But the Crab Mencius said the volcanoes could erupt from a plume in the magma,” said Karain.
“Don’tlisten to that old crab!”
After class Tai sun and Karain glided out to the courtyard. Shu appeared from behind a caryl Lyman plant. He laughed at Karain. “Kun-gumi, did you get some new shoes yet? I heard your mother works at a bar at night,” said Shu
“Tomeiski! Stop your lies and gossip! We can see right through you!” cried Tai sun.
Shu swam up to him. He swung at Tai sun, missing him by centimeters. Tai sun kicked hard into Shu’sintestines.
Shu lay on the ocean floor, surrounded by tiny shrimps. “Patai!” he cried out in pain.
Professor Laimok swam up to Shu. “Are you allright?”
Shun pointed to his intestines. “Tai sun kicked me again!”
Professor Laimok glared at Tai sun. “You are causing a lot of trouble at our school. You’re suspended!”
Tai sun swam away as fast as he could.
That evening the school held a special meeting. “The Crab Mencius hates us because we gave him an early retirement. He deters the creation of the New Order,” said Professor Tao.
“His retirement benefit was cut in half. I can understand why he’sangry,” said the pink shrimp secretary, as she typed into her P-SEA.
Professor Laimok glared at her, “He was too radical for this school! He’s giving the children too much information.” Suddenly his shell phone rang. He covered the receiver. “It’sthe Chairman.”
Professor Tao leaned back in his chair, silently blowing smoke rings into the sea.
Professor Laimok clicked off his shell phone. “The Chairman said to cut the old crab’sretirement pension completely. They don’t want him to reveal his knowledge about the tomb.”
Professor Tao nodded. “By the way, I suspended Tai sun.”
“Good.” said Professor Laimok
The pink shrimp secretary looked up from her P-SEA. “He is a sweet boy, please give him a chance. And he’s so clever as well!”
Professor Tao glared at her, the nose on top of his head vibrating in anger. Then he smiled at Professor Laimok. “What are you doing for dinner tonight? I heard they serve delicious spicy pink shrimp at the Sagwankil hotel.”
Professor Laimok chuckled and glanced at the secretary, who began typing so quickly that the photo of her red tanner crab boyfriend fell off her desk and drifted into the sea…
Tai sun swam back to the crabMencius’s cave. He was not outside as usual doing Tai Chi, but in bed, coughing. Tai sun stared at him. “Da-pyo-a?”
The crab looked up at him. “Maso.”
“Please tell me where the tomb is,” said Tai sun.“Negasai.”
The boy looked down. “My father told me he always wanted to go to the tombs and see the jewels. If I find them, he’ll be proud of me.”
The crab was silent for a moment; then he got out of bed and drew a picture in the sand. “Only a person with a pure heart can see her,” croaked the crab, his voice raspy with illness and age.
Tai sun stared at the image of a woman, glowing in a mushroom cloud shaped jellyfish. He pointed to the mysterious characters above the picture. “Kasun?”
“Woman of peace.” If we see her floating to the bottom, it means she has died and that a great war will soon break out.”
“Does she live in the tomb?”
The crab coughed and rasped his way back into bed. He scowled at Tai sun. “Don’task me so many questions!”
Tai sun and Karain were swimming home from school the next day when saw they an ominous sight. Shu was gliding towards them, followed by a school of moray eels. “Bacabo! I’ll show you who is boss around her!”
Tai sun turned to Karain. “Anenemy! k’yumarjo!”
“ka-chin-gu-ta! But I can’tleave you!”
Tai sun tried to fight them off but was outnumbered. The sea slowly turned fading, as the eels stung him. When he woke up hours later, he was alone. He slowly glided home.
That night he laid in his seaweed bed in pain, unable to sleep. Something white floated in the water. He closed his eyes, thinking it was his white shirt, when he felt a warm light caressing his skin. He slowly opened his eyes and saw a mushroom cloud shaped jellyfish floating downwards, glowing with the princess, her eyes closed.
The next day he went to school. Karain was sitting on the steps. Tai sun painfully swam up to him. When Karain saw his bruises, he began to cry. “Ka-chin-gu-ta. I’m sorry I left you alone.”
Tai sun smiled. “Ka-chin-gu-ta. You would have been clobbered. I couldn’tlet that happen.”
Karain looked at him with luminous eyes. “The Crab Mencius…Da-pyo-a?”
They swam to the cave but he wasn’tthere. The Toyama shrimp was weeping on the sandy sea bottom. “Byochipin.”
“Why do you and Crab Mencius speak so loudly?” asked Karian.
“We have to speak loudly, over the propaganda. We aren’t young like you,” replied the Toyama Shrimp.
The two boys swam to the hospital and found the Crab Mencius lying on a seaweed bed, his eyes closed. Tai sun sat down on a rock close to the bed. “I saw the Jellyfish princess.”
The crab stared at him. “Then she has died and war will break out soon unless we stop it. You are a good boy. You suffered pain over protecting your friend. Your pure actions allowed you to see her.”
Karain’seyes lit up. “Please tell us where the tomb is? Negasai!”
The crab touched his face. “Kupi.”
An hour later the crab died. Tai sun stared sadly at his shell, which had faded from a bright red to rose pink. When he got home, he saw his mother hanging out the laundry, talking on her shell phone.” “The school called again to say you missed class. Go to your room!”
Tai sun glided into his room and sat on the floor, staring outside the window. He glanced down at Sollang. “tonto.”
The next day he was walking home from school when he passed the Ministry of Information. He stopped in his tracks. The entire structure shuddered. He watched speechless as a mouth appeared on the building and yawned, shaking the conch shell speakers. Behind the Ministry of Information a long serpent emerged from the sea floor. He stared at the face of the serpent and the conch shell ears. It reminded him of something. He stared at the face and thought of the last words of the Crab Mencius. “Kupi.” Then he thought of Karain’s face. Slowly it dawned on him.
He turned around.
The Secret Police, two Morotoge shrimp,were scuttling along the sea bottom towards him. “Chyande!”
Tai sun watched at the serpent’smouth closed. How could he get in? He saw the crab sitting on a rock. He picked it up and ran over to the serpent. “Jigota!”
The crab glared at him. “You’re not with the Ministry of Information. I need special clearance before I can take orders.”
Tai sun looked at the Secret Police approaching. “JIGOTA!” The crab pinched the serpent. It screamed in pain, and opened its mouth. Tai sun jumped in, the mouth closing just as the Secret Police reached him. He swam in the darkness of the serpent for what seemed like ages. Suddenly the serpent yawned, letting in a shaft of light. He saw writing on the wall. “To Tombs- Five kilometers.” He was almost there! His father would be so proud. He continued to glide in the darkness until the serpent yawned again, illuminating colorful paintings of sumo wrestlers, the stars Altair and Vega, and flying fish appeared before him. A turtle with a snake wrapped around it. It was the Genbu, the protective mythical creature of the north. Then he saw an astronomical star chart of constellations and stars, studded with amethyst, smoky topaz and emeralds. The precious jewels! He touched an emerald and realized it could be removed. He scraped it off the wall and placed it in his pocket. Suddenly something knocked him off his feet. A sea reptile paddled towards him, exposing diamond like fangs.
The Genbu sprang to life, wrestling with the sea reptile until it lay still on the sea floor, small stones and turtles popping out of its stomach.
Tai sun swam in the murky light until he saw the end of the tomb. He looked out through the teeth of the two headed serpent and saw a landscape that looked very similar to the Wa. He swam out of the serpent’s mouth. He was in the North Yamoto bank, in the kingdom of the Kaya. A crowd encircled two sumo wrestlers, cheering them on. As Tai sun watched, two Secret Police pink shrimp eyed him suspiciously. Suddenly propaganda blared out from the sea skies.
“THE LEADER OF THE WA IS AN EVIL TYRANT!
PREPARE FOR ATTACK BY THE WA!
Tai sun couldn’t understand a word. Suddenly the two shrimps scuttled over and handcuffed him.
“Let go of me!”
Guards blindfolded Tai sun and pushed him into a boat. He felt himself sailing through a tunnel, innocent of the secret police aiming machine guns at him from behind mirrored walls. Finally the boat stopped. Two doors separated in front ofhim.The guards ripped off his blindfold.The leader of the Kaya sat before him on a throne of shells. Three goddesses sat at the ruler's feet. Water flowed out of abioluminescent fountain, encircled by a beautiful white caryl Lyman plant.
The guards dragged him up the red carpet. The ruler of the Kaya smiled through his sunglasses. “So this is our great spy from the Wa. ”
One of the women giggled. “He is so cute. Perhaps we should go to the Wa side.”
The ruler glared at her. “Don’t eversay that!” He nodded to one of the guards, who dragged her by the hair to the edge of the fountain. Tai sun watched as a sea reptile sprang up. He covered his eyes to shut out the screams of the goddess as the guard forced her into the water.
At that instant a messenger ran up. “The Ministry of Information has announced that the old order has collapsed in the kingdom of the Wa. The new order declares war on the Kaya!”
The ruler of the Kaya glared at Tai sun. “Execute him!”
The two guards dragged Tai sun to the edge of the fountain. He cringed back in terror as the sea reptile opened its jaws, exposing diamond like fangs.
Suddenly they heard loud rumbling outside the palace.
“Look and see what’shappening!” shouted the ruler.
The guards swam over to the window. He turned around. “The volcanoes are erupting!”
Lava was flowing over the tiled roofs of temples as ash fell on the ocean floor, covering the scores of once thriving pink shrimps.
Tai sun saw this as a chance to escape. He bit the guards and slipped out the doors just as they were closing. He jumped into the boat and paddled. The Secret Police fired at him from behind the mirrors, missing him by centimeters. He searched for the exit in vain. He gazed down into the waters at his reflection. Suddenly a fish shot out of the his face and into the boat.
A half fish/half girl sat next to him and smiled. “Yongawa.”
He stared at her. He had never seen anyone so beautiful. “Yongawa.”
The girl motioned for him to climb on her back. They flew out of the tunnel and into the sea skies. Tai sun marveled at the temples and sculptures below him, that reminded him so much of the Wa kingdom. As they flew in the sea skies he felt so happy, close to the beautiful creature that had rescued him. Suddenly she cruised down and gently deposited him at the entrance of the serpent. He reluctantly climbed off her back.
She pressed her fingers to his lips, then flew into the skies. He watched until she could no longer be seen.
He entered the serpent and glided along for many hours before it yawned, illuminating his sore webbed feet. Finally he arrived at the end of the serpent., just as it yawned. He swam out into the kingdom of the Wa.
The eel train lay turned over on its side. Volcanic ash covered the sea floor. Pink shrimp and starfish lay motionless in the cooled down lava flow. He swam past his school and saw Professor Laimok’scorpse, stuck in the lava. clutching his shell phone.
On the way home he passed the Shrine of the Yamato, and was shocked to see Professor Tao’s corpse, his hands clasped together in an eternal pose.
He glided towards his house and was relieved to see that it had not been damaged. His mother was hanging out the laundry. Tears came to her eyes before her face quickly closed again. “You have caused a lot of trouble for us.
He looked down at his webbed feet. “I’msorry.” He went to his room and stared out the window. The huge serpent was still, its eyes and mouth closed. He slouched down on the floor and put his hands in his pockets. He had forgotten about the emerald. It sparkled brilliantly. Sollang stared at him.
Tai sun smiled. “tonto.”
His mother’sface appeared at the window, clutching his white shirt. “I’msorry I screamed at you. We were so worried.”
The next day he glided around the kingdom, showing the emerald to the Wa people. He told the people of the Wa and The underground tombs became a pathway connecting the two kingdoms, bringing peace to the Sea of Japan. As he looked at the flying fish he thought of Peace and how much he wanted to see her again.
That night his father came home early and had dinner with him. Tai sun took the emerald out of his pocket and showed it to him. “This is for you.”
His father took it and placed it in the middle of the table. “I know how much you wanted to join the Wa with the Kaya and now you’ve done it! You can go anytime now.”
Tai sun smiled.
Later that night he snuggled into his seaweed bed. Just as he was drifting off to sleep, a white cloth floated in the water up to him. He turned over, thinking it was his shirt. Then he turned around again. It was the Jellyfish Princess, steadily propelling herself to the top of the sea. He watched until she disappeared, happily thinking of when he could see Pyonwa again…
Copyright 2004 Avia Belle Moon. All rights reserved. Reproduction is forbidden without written consent.
1)fool (pabo 바보)
2)friend (chin-gu 친구)
3)enemy (chuck 적)
4)big ears (kun-gui 큰귀)
5)my friend (nae-chin-gu 내친구)
6)scram! (Get out of here!) (k'yu-jo 꺼져)
7)Destroy (pa-g'oe 파괴)
8)attack (kong-gyok 공격)
9)Japan (il-bon 일본)
10)sick (a-pu-da 아프다)
11)worry (ku_k-chung 걱정)
12)help (dowajuo 도와줘)
13)spy (gan-chup 간첩)
14)war (jeon-jang 전쟁)
15)execute (sa-hyung-ha-da 사형하다)
16)volcano (hwa-san 화산)
kanani-What are you doing?
Gunu rakuhigeme?-who is the jellyfish princess?
tomeitsuki- a transparent liar
Da-pyo-a?”-are you sick?
?” “Mirue tanata?” whats your name
“You are so beautiful.”—“Tanata aruntsukushii.”