In ancient days when the island was new, there lived a hunter like none who lives today. KaloKa was this hunter’s name. He walked with footsteps silent as still water, and his arrows could snatch the stars from the sky. Born beneath a warlock’s moon, he understood the words of the wild beasts, and when he wore the skin of an animal he took its shape upon him. His hunting spear brought death like sleep, and at its approach no prey would flee, for its point brought no pain and the creatures of the forest had not learned to fear it.
But though the hunter brought no pain, no fear, there was one who came to hate him: his only brother, LokeRo. Though born beneath the same moon, LokeRo had a cruel spirit and no magic was bestowed upon him. All beasts had come to fear his scent, and even insects shied away at his approach. Still KaloKa honoured him as kin, and often let him join the hunt, though it meant both would be without a meal.
One day, overcome with envy, LokeRo drove his spear into his brother’s back and threw him in the sea. He told the tribe that KaloKa had fallen and been taken by the sharks. From the white island, KaloKa watched him tell this lie, and the ancestors that stood around him watched it too. KaloKa knew that when his brother’s time came, and his spirit made the journey to the white island, he would be scorned for all the days of time. But this was not enough. From the white island, watching the lie, KaloKa’s spirit grew cruel too.
Silent as still water, KaloKa killed a spider and took its skin. With the spider’s thread, he climbed down from the white island, into the In-between. Here his sorrow doubled, for though his strength had been unparalleled in life, in death he found himself weaker than a babe. Trapped in the In-between, no tribesman could see him, and his fingertips could barely move the leaves upon the trees. Yet here he waited, in darkness and in grief, until LokeRo lay down to sleep and his spirit walked into the forest to hunt the dreams of boar.
Putting on the skin of a great beast, KaloKa followed the spirit of his brother. While the dreams of beasts fled, he pursued. His steps were silent, but now and then he would drag his claws across the bark of trees, or pause to growl, to make his brother turn and shake.
“Who is there?” cried LokeRo at last. “Who is following?”
Silent as still water, KaloKa struck, tearing apart the spirit of his brother so that he woke with a start.
From then on, every night when LokeRo lay down to sleep, he would find KaloKa awake and waiting. Some nights the hunter waited looming, teeth bared above his bed. Other nights there would be hours in the forest, cold with terror, steps silent as still water always at his heels. Every night a different beast devoured him.
At last fear made LokeRo grow bold. He chose a clearing to make his stand, an open space where he could see his foe approach. Then, spear fast before him, he called out his challenge: “Where is the beast that will come and face me? Who is this bad spirit that haunts me?”
KaloKa stepped from the trees. “Do you not know your own brother?”
And when the claws came for his flesh, LokeRo’s spear was not in his hands, for he saw now that it was in the hunter’s back.
When daylight came, LokeRo sought out a warlock to banish his brother from the In-between. To fight this battle against the vengeful spirit, LokeRo gave the warlock his only spear, and pledged a life of servitude. But KaloKa’s spirit was strong with hate, and made the warlock shudder and the eyes roll in his head, so LokeRo was given back his spear.
A shadow in the In-between, torment was KaloKa’s only joy. In the course of his revenge, he gathered many skins in which to walk, but he also learnt a new magic: he learnt to cast off his own skin. Freed of his true shape, he found that he could become false things, harrying his prey with terrors never seen before. And so LokeRo died an old man, less than a year after he killed his brother.
But though LokeRo was scorned for all the days of time, KaloKa received an even graver punishment. For though he took on a great many skins to plague his brother, not once since climbing down from the white island had he put on the skin of the spider. When he returned to the place he left the spider’s skin, he found it had long ago dried up and blown away, and its thread was nowhere to be found. He stalks the In-between to this day, trapped forever by the spider, watching for whatever sleepers he can spy.
His steps are silent as still water, and torment is his only joy.
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