Episode 8- “A Jump For Love”
Lewa had stayed in the fire region with Tahu, figuring he mind as well remain there till Ashton's funeral had passed. On the third day, Tahu and Lewa met at the “Heroes Cemetery” where nearly all of the water kingdom workers, queen, and princess gathered. Tajun traditions were then carried out.
Queen Nilla raises a hand, and servants kneel, holding a bowl of water to her. She nods in thanks and cuffs the water in her palms, kissing it and watching it ripple. She’s then handed an oil in a small blue bottle which is poured into the water and mixed around. Nilla raises her eyes to the sky, then released the water back into the bowl, and splashes Ashton’s sarcophagus with it.
All those of the water kingdom clap their hands once and then sing an odd song which sounds ancient.
Lewa lifts a brow as he watches this and whispers to Tahu, “What are they strange-doing? It’s most weird-odd.” he mutters.
Tahu shrugs and shakes his head, trying to be subtle and not speak too much during a ceremony. “Honestly Lewa, I have no idea. Water types have weird traditions, especially the ones not of Mata Nui.”
Lewa tightens his lips and tries not to snicker at Tahu’s last statement, refraining laughter and directing his attention back to the queen who prepares to give yet another speech.
“Gathered friends, and noble heroes; today we must say goodbye to yet another great man. We’ve all seen sacrifice, experienced heartbreak, and have lost many good men to the shadows and wicked ways of darkness. But whether the hero be experienced and touched by age, or youthful and bold in spirit and body, there is one thing each of them contains, and that is light.
Through the ages, the ones that have given their lives to protect others from the darkness, have shown that no matter how great or small, there is a light within each of us, one that thrives to triumph over the shadows and be at peace with our brethren.
I’ve noticed the one great thing about this light, is that even in death it sparks the light within us all, and lives on as a beaming example to others, showing that you don’t have to be someone in order to be a hero.
And that’s what Toa Ashton showed. He was known by few, had a hard past and low life; but in the end he proved that anyone could do the right thing when it calls for it; and for that, I hold my utmost respect for the poor young man. May his light live on.” she says while bowing her head.
Fiamma starts to cry and turn her head. Nilla sighs and comes over quietly, gently lifting Fiamma’s hand and placing Ashton's medallion in her palm for safe keeping, to preserve the memory of a friend and the sacrifice he made.
Fiamma takes it mournfully and clutches it in her hand, stepping away and nodding to the queen in thanks.
Nilla nods in return and signals for Ashton’s sarcophagus to be slipped into the beautifully carved shrine painted and carved with his regions symbols.
Lewa keeps his eyes to the ground for most of it, and Tahu watches semi bitterly. Once the morning past, and all departed, Lewa bid Tahu goodbye, and flew home weary hearted.
Lewa was so glad to return to his forest home after several days of being away in lands of fire, water, and sand. It was a joy to finally step into his tree home, and be able to sit down for a nice nap or a browse through Junti poetry.
Lewa pauses, thinking twice and taking a double glance at the Junti poem book filled with odd, pretty love songs of their tongue. Suddenly his mind is instantly brought away from sorrow of the day as he thinks of Venimbus, and wonders if he could pay her a visit.
In that thought Lewa sighs happily, going dreamy eyed again and flipping through the poem book. He memorizes a few he thinks sound pretty, but has little knowledge of how sappy they are, his understanding of Junti still rough and wobbly. “Oh, if only I sure-knew she would like these.” he says to himself.
At that, he stands, his heart filled with hope of impressing Venimbus with a little poetry, but where was she? Where would he even start? He paces back and forth, these thoughts pressuring him.
Suddenly he thinks of the market and snaps his fingers, figuring if anywhere, the market would be the best place to search first. Maybe someone knew her, or knew at least a few details of her whereabouts.
Lewa smiles, and stands, immediately dashing out and flying to the local market. When he lands, he runs around desperately, asking any jungle Agori he can about Venimbus, hoping they might be able to help him.
Much to his frustration however, the Agori who were familiar with Venimbus shook their heads at Lewa's foolish pursuit, feeling he was crazy for even thinking twice about pursuing Venimbus, and refusing to tell him anything about her.
Lewa hangs his head and sighs, pouting slightly.
Suddenly a jungle Matoran shouts out to him, “Hey buddy?! Did you say you're looking for Venimbus?” he chuckles. Lewa lifts his head quickly and nods, his eyes hopeful again as he nears the jungle Matoran's cart.
“Aye, you know anything about her, like where I can seek-find her?” he asks desperately.
The Matoran smiles, his mischief and desire to play pranks as strong as can be. Little did Lewa know this Matoran had been listening and watching this entire time, knowing exactly how he feels, and also knowing that every man who has pursued Venimbus ended up facing some sort of humiliation; and just for laughs, decides to 'help' Lewa.
“Yeah, names Jocon. Have a little crush on the Junti known as Venimbus do ya? Well hop in line pal, I've been observing her for years. I have a little crush on her too, just a dream of course. I could never have a woman like that as long as I'm short.” he chuckles.
Lewa smiles and laughs at Jocon's boldness.“So... You know more about her? Like what?”
Jocon leans in a bit and glances around, snickering. “Well, she comes to this market every other weekend, sometimes even visits my cart. Careful about approaching her too fast, or you might get shot with a sleeping dart. She lives in one of the Junti regions, a camp...but seems to go from one place to another... not sure what's up with that.”
Lewa nods, absorbing this information and flipping out a notepad, jotting down what he can, scribbling as fast as Jocon can talk.Jocon laughs at him and continues telling him things about Venimbus, answering many of Lewa's questions.
A good 15 minutes later, much to Lewa's surprise, Venimbus shows up at the market, browsing at some distant carts. Lewa looks around and his heart skips a beat, his eyes going wide and his dumbfounded smile spreading across his face again as he looks at Venimbus dreamy eyed.
Jocon smirks, seeing Lewa is definitely head over heels for her; and continues his mischief, nudging Lewa and smirking. “Well, what are you waiting for? Why don't you try talking with her?” he chuckles, twitching his eyebrows and snickering.
Lewa holds his breath for a moment, then breathes out and nods, slowly approaching Venimbus with caution and subtly waving, managing to creak out a “hello” while trying to keep fluster off his face.
Venimbus glances at him, pausing for a moment, then recognizing him and sighing. She shakes her head and tries to ignore him, feeling a bit grouchy.
Lewa tenses a bit and builds up enough courage to try and quote poetry as planned. He clears his throat and starts, smiling awkwardly and circling her a bit to get her attention, like a gukko bird trying to fluff its feathers for a female.
As he quotes, Venimbus pauses, her lips tightening as she holds back inner laughter and the feeling of embarrassment, glancing around and noticing other passing market shoppers attentions are slightly caught by Lewa's foolery, there low snickers loud enough to be heard.
Venimbus sighs again, briskly walking around Lewa and shaking her head, secretly feeling pity and amusement all at once at his attempt, knowing he's wobbly in Junti, and probably doesn't realize the poems he chose to quote were some of the sappiest she's ever heard.
Venimbus speeds up pace in her market shopping, ignoring Lewa as best she can and speeding off back towards the jungle trails as soon as possible, secretly smiling inside at Lewa's attempt, but having no time to deal with him.
Lewa hangs his head as she runs off, but in his desperateness, and fear he'll never see her again, he secretly and silently follows her through the forest.
She's unaware of this, and in the next half hour reaches the gate of Camp Cobrales, slipping inside and vanishing from Lewa's view.
Lewa had watched her enter, observing from up in a tree, and assumes she must live in this gated Junti region. He sighs, thinking things over. The multiple jungle Agori he's spoken to had all warned him and stated multiple times that you never cross the borders of Junti territories if you didn't want to have a bad day and get into serious trouble. He bites his lip, his mind flipping between warnings and the thought of Venimbus.
Finally he smirks, muttering to himself, “Eh, jungle Agori always have seemed a bit superstitious and spook-jumpy. What harm could come from a gate-jump? Besides, I'm green like everyone else...they probably won't even flick-bat a lash at me.” he thinks, chuckling and shrugging off the warnings like swatting a bug, all for the sake of possible love.
At that, Lewa foolishly, and boldly climbs down from the tree, nears the top of the gate, and jumps over. He lands swiftly on his feet, hoping no one noticed him, remaining cautious but still pursuing Venimbus, wherever she was in this apparently massive Junti region.
Lewa stays along the gate, slinking past people and hiding behind trees, tensing slightly as he slips past warriors and guards, hoping they don't pay attention to him as he passes.
As Lewa makes his way through the camp, he's awed and bewildered by the cultural styles and customs of the Junti people. He observes their warrior garments, tattoos and military symbols, splendid feather head dresses on certain women, and so many other things that just puzzle, yet fascinate him.
Little did Lewa know that while he explored, observed, and sought out Venimbus; a warning had already been given to Jujunwa, the Junti general of Camp Cobrales. One of the watch guards from far off had seen Lewa jump the gate, and passed the warning on.
Meanwhile, Lewa nears the women area of camp, and spots Venimbus rinsing off her armor under some bathing fountains amongst other Junti women who chattered and laughed, all of them speaking Junti.
Lewa gulps, even more awe struck at the sight of a whole group of tall green women, and cautiously approaches, looking at Venimbus and glancing around even more flustered when the other women start to titter and whisper to each other, looking at him and pointing, then laughing and tittering some more.
Lewa has no idea what they're saying, but does his best to try, and puts a hand up, “V... V...V...Venimbus? ” he stutters, creaking and feeling so flustered he can hardly make out any words, twiddling his thumbs and looking at her, trying not to seem desperate or pitiful and stutters out, “H....h...h...hi. Y...y...you look v...v...very n..nice-pretty t...today.” he croaks. “C… c… can I… t… talk to you?”.
The other Junti women titter and laugh, looking him over, and a few nudge Venimbus with their elbows.
“Hey he's cute, looks like another one is after you. When will they get the clue?” the one laughs.
Another adds in, “Say, if she can't stand him, maybe I can, look at that chest armor, and those cheeks!” she says with slight admiration.
Venimbus's eye twitches slightly at the ones open flirting for Lewa, feeling a twinge of secret jealousy, and aggravated at the others joking of him being so desperate like so many others.
Venimbus looks down, hiding her emotions as best she can and looks at Lewa who grins awkwardly and taps his fingers even more, blushing and looking down at his feet for a moment, sputtering sound, but unable to get more words out as he thinks to himself of how pitiful he must seem, not knowing where to even start, or even how to explain what he feels when he sees her. “I...I...I just... um...” he creaks.
Venimbus starts to feel pity. ‘This poor man... so foolish to jump the gate and follow me here. But oh, the fact he even pursued this far makes him seem so much more charming than others. These other women know nothing about strength and charm....His chest aint bad, but those legs...Oooo. And his mask, so different, so quirky, so bold and bubbly looking.’ she thinks to herself, a smile spreading on her face as she looks Lewa over, warming more and more as she thinks about the sound of his voice, funny accent, and the color of his eyes.
Lewa looks at her and notices her subtle, charmed smile, and he starts feeling less afraid, lifting his head up a bit more and stepping forward slightly. “S...so it's n… nice to be....I....I mean where you…live is very nice.” he nods, shaking a bit.
One of the younger Junti girls peeks at Lewa and feels insecure, then runs off to find a guard and warn that someone is talking with Venimbus.
Lewa holds his breath slightly and slowly offers a hand, hoping Venimbus might shake it, his smile awkward and his hand slightly trembling. Venimbus looks at his hand, slightly smiling, and slowly starts to lift hers, getting ready to return the greeting; but right as soon as their fingers almost touch, Venimbus flinches, noticing guards, the general, and the captain approaching.
She lowers her hand instantly to her side again as Jujunwa catches Lewa off guard and grabs him by the scruff of the neck.
Lewa flinches and flails, feeling almost immobile from the grip, unable to function and free himself, stuttering a bit more, uncomfortable and tense.
Venimbus hangs her head slightly, but observes and hides her feelings well.
Jujunwa drags Lewa over to a nearby tree.“Captain, hang him by his feet and bind his wrists.” states Jujunwa.
Lewa flinches, more tense because he has no idea what the general just said, and grunts in confused irritation as the captain binds his wrists with vines, and strings his feet up quickly.
He looks at the captain a bit freaked out, finding something oddly familiar about him, but can't quite pinpoint what it is. Then feels embarrassed by the fact Venimbus is watching him get strung up like a fish.
Jujunwa steps forward and stands behind Lewa out of view, ordering the captain to remove Lewa's back armor, causing Lewa to flinch when the captain does. He creaks and stutters a bit more, trying to get a peek behind himself and figure out what's happening, just barely snagging a glimpse.
Jujunwa nods to the captain and reaches for a whip hanging on his belt.
Lewa goes wide eyed, panting a bit and struggling more, then pausing and squinting when he notices Venimbus come over to the general and whisper to him in Junti, “Wait, I've dealt with this one before... at the arena matches. Let me have some fun.” she says with a mischievous grin, glancing at Lewa who gets a sinking feeling and blushes red from her gaze.
Jujunwa smirks and nods in agreement, chuckling at Venimbus's antics. Little does Lewa realize she was stepping in to save his back and lessen his pain, while still causing him to feel horrendously humiliated.
Venimbus waves some other women over, who bring her rotten toxic fruit. Lewa lifts a brow, now even more confused. He assumes the fruit she grabs is normal, but has no knowledge that toxic fruit to beings who aren't Junti, or native to their land, stings if the juice is touched; and can cause a burning sensation much like poison ivy.
Venimbus takes the fruit and loads it into a type of sling shot, then smiles slightly and keeps back a sigh as she hits Lewa's back with sticky, rotten fruits.
Lewa squirms and tenses, letting out a shivered moan as the juice starts to sting and itch, causing him to wriggle and bounce about by the vine tied to his feet.
Laughter and snorting from some of the women and guards follow, and Venimbus slightly chuckles at Lewa's reaction, feeling a bit sorry, yet all at once amused.
When Venimbus is done, Lewa is let down and grabbed by two very large guards who hold his arms and lift him. Venimbus looks Lewa in the eyes and gives a warning, hoping he'll listen and understand.
“Never jump the gates of the Junti people again if you wish to keep your smooth back.” she states sternly, pointing out she protected him this time.
Lewa only understands the basics of what she just said, but catches that it's a warning, and knows she's not fully pleased, causing him to hang his head once more.
Venimbus waves the guards away, telling them to bathe Lewa and get the juice off of him. They comply, and Lewa is dragged to the bathing fountains, grimacing and grumbling as he's forced under the fountain and scrubbed down, held by one guard while the other splashes him.
Lewa growls and scoffs, feeling miffed, embarrassed, and rejected; trying to ignore the last feeling.
Junti women stand off to the side and watch, tittering about the fact an air type is getting a bath by the muscle guards who stand by at all times to ensure the safety of the women and protect them from outside threats.
When all is done, the guards drag a flailing Lewa to the gates, and toss him out into the jungle beyond their borders, leaving him there soaked and dripping, feeling like a wet cat. He groans and stands up, brushing some leaves off and sighing, muttering to himself.