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A Fatal Mistake

by Ciara Jarrett, age 17

There was once a small island, which remained sunny and warm for the vast majority of the year, placed on a seemingly endless stretch of crystal waters that shone in a myriad of colors, ranging anywhere from emerald-green to pure sky-blue, depending on the light. This island was never more beautiful than it was at the time when the hibiscus was in bloom, displaying enormous blossoms in a breathtaking array of hues. At this time, in a year so far past it is now nearly forgotten, two boys grieved for the dying chief, who was their father. The older of the two was named Aimata, and he was as proud and arrogant as a person can be, loving power as he loved his life. The younger son, Ariihau, was truly the opposite of his brother—caring, compassionate, and more loving towards his people than ever a prince has been. Both desired to become chief after their father, but for entirely different reasons. However, the chief was not able to name his successor as he lay on his deathbed, for he had fallen victim to a deep coma from which he would never wake.

After the chief’s departure from this temporal world, Aimata initiated a terrible duel with his brother in fear that Ariihau would oust him from his chance at the throne. As the battle raged from precipice to sandy shore, Aimata attacked Ariihau, who had only a simple dagger and desperate evasive maneuvers to defend himself, in every beastly and heinous manner imaginable. Aimata taunted his brother, labeling him weak and forceless. Ariihau responded with words far truer than his brother’s: “I care only for the people and their well-being, but you care nothing for them in your lusting after power.” Being much stronger than Ariihau, Aimata seemed likely to fulfill his intention of sending his brother along the same path their father had recently embarked upon. Only Ariihau’s fortunate knowledge of a well-concealed cave, which he managed to slip into without his brother’s knowledge, kept him from this dire fate. Giving up on finding Ariihau after a prolonged search and thinking him to have likely fled from the island entirely, Aimata moved on to order a magnificent palace to be erected for himself atop the highest peak of the mountain. Here he lived fully in the luxury he forced his miserable people to provide for him and spent much of his time boasting about his own power and greatness as though he were king of all creation.

One day, as Aimata engaged himself in a particularly loud bout of boasting, the great wind god, Afa, sailed by on the calm breeze he had created for the day and heard the boasting of the vain young chief. When Afa heard these conceited words, he was terribly enraged, both for the boasting itself and for the evil that was being inflicted on the people. “This prince is not worthy of his station. He will lose all!” he roared. With that, he summoned a great hurricane, which had a strength that had never been seen and never would be seen again. In the blink of an eye, the great palace was swept away along with Aimata and all his possessions, doomed to reside at the bottom of the sea, where it would never again be witnessed in its glory.

Upon observing this from the opening of his cave, Ariihau came out of hiding and took his place as chief of a people who would be well-led and cared for as long as he lived. To this day, the islanders still tell their children the story of Aimata, Ariihau, and Afa so that they will not forget that those who boast and love only themselves will not often meet a favorable end.

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