For uncounted hundreds of years, the inhabitants of the island had led a peaceful existence. They were descended from exploring warriors who had landed there in longboats, spears in hand, seeking conquest. Over time their vicious natures had faded, lulled by the calm sun, the cool sand and the delicate flora. Now they fished, traded nuts with their neighbours, and ran along the surf with sand between their toes.
The only remnant of their war-like nature lay, mostly forgotten, in a chest in a cave near the centre of the island. It was an idol, carved from a piece of heavy stone about the size of a man’s arm. The idol depicted a buxom huntress with many arms, each holding a blade, on which were impaled the unfortunates who dared cross her path. Her face was contorted in anger, her neck had its own teeth, her hair a blaze to burn transgressors.
This was their goddess. A goddess of anger, cruelty and vengeance. A goddess for a people hewn in unforgiving forests, beset by bellicose neighbours. A goddess of the past, no rôle in paradise, best left to sleep in the dark.
Once, all had shivered before the idol’s stare. Now jokes were made, with her as the punchline. But so ingrained were the stories, told by fathers to children, that the laughs were quiet and tinged with wariness.
One day, long after the last spears had rusted away, sleepy lives were interrupted. A dark speck appeared at the horizon, drawing nearer under a column of smoke.
To be continued…