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Eerie Feelings And riddles

16th of July

Samantha

It only takes a few minutes to get into town and find our hostel. We’re going to be here for 3 nights, so me and Em booked a private room to be more comfortable, and Tane called earlier and booked a private room for himself at the same place.
After having a quick chat with the receptionist, she takes us upstairs to the second floor, where we find that our rooms are one next to the other, which is pretty convenient. It makes me smile a little even if I’m still feeling a bit weirded out about what happened in the car.
I have a little time to kill while Em goes to have a shower, so I decide to finally open up the other attachments in the email the lawyer sent me. At this point, anything is welcome so I don’t have to deal with the memories of what might be me losing my mind.
Once the file loads, it takes me a while to go through the whole thing and separate legal terms and random things I’m completely unable to comprehend, from the important facts. Three of them stand out to me..
Fact number one: I now own a lot of properties.
Fact number two: There are properties in more cities than I expected.
Fact number three: One of those properties is actually right here in Rotorua.
I can’t believe my eyes, not only do I own own that property, but it looks like I also have a beach house in Mount Maunganui, an apartment building in Christchurch, another beach house in Sumner, one in Nelson, and then there’s properties in places that I’m not even sure where they are.
Thank the Gods Em comes back as I’m finishing reading it all, and suggests we head out to the waterfront for some dinner, because I really need the distraction. We both head out, grabing Tane on our way.
We find the main road easily enough, and walk around reading all the menus from the stands at the entrance of each restaurant before deciding on a place that offers pizza and pasta, and has outside tables surrounded by big heaters.
We sit outside, barely warm enough, and I order some raviolis with bolognese, which is the first thing I read from the menu. And then I sit there, looking at the twinkly lights wrapped around the bannister that divides the restaurant from the street, just thinking about everything.
“Are you all good, Sam?” Em asks while we wait.
“Yeah, just extremely tired,” I lie.
Ever since arriving in town, I've had this weird feeling in the pit of my stomach. I still have no idea what to make of those images that hit me earlier in the car, but I can’t stop thinking about them. Was it a dream? Did I fall asleep without realising? Was it a memory? A part of me honestly thinks I might be losing my marbles. Maybe I could do a video chat with my counsellor, I feel like that image of the blood is going to chase me my whole life.
And also, I can't shake the feeling that I'm missing something. Like there's something else I should know, something I should be aware of. Something that I should be able to remember.
“I’m really looking forward to my chicken and parmesan pizza!” Em says happily, bringing me out of my daze.
“I still can’t believe you ordered a whole pizza,” I say as I try to smile up at her.
“Fuck yeah, and I will eat the whole thing!”
Food comes, and we eat mostly in silence, only Em’s voice chirping away every now and then. Afterwards, we split the bill, and Em suggests we go over to the waterfront for a little bit before heading back. It’s only a few meters away, so we agree, and we all sit on a bench by the lake, with Em in the middle.
The thing about Rotorua, is that it’s a town built around a bunch of geothermal springs, and the amount of sulfur in them makes the whole city smell like rotten eggs. I'm a little bit used to the smell by now, but it’s definitely not pleasant when my stomach is so full.
“Well, that was a pretty good dinner, I’m so full my stomach hurts!” Em says.
“Yeah...mine does too.” I say as I absently rub my stomach.
There’s a thick fog, so I can only see a few meters ahead, and then the water disappears into nothingness. It’s creeping me up a bit.
“Is the smell making you sick?” Em asks as she looks at me, probably noticing that I’m not feeling great.
“I think so, I’m not feeling that good, we should probably head back.” I say as I rub my arms and try to appease the goosebump.
“That’s okay with me,” Tane says as he stands up. “Lets head back.”
He's been weirdly quiet since we arrived, and we haven't really spoken after what happened in the car. He didn't say a word during dinner, and he just kept his eyes on his plate the whole time. Maybe he realised I'm a weirdo that spaces out sometimes. Maybe he saw something in my expression earlier that scared him away. Or maybe he's annoyed at me because I haven't been paying him - or anyone- much attention ever since we got here.
I get up, and my hands tremble slightly, so I rub them together to warm them up. We’re only a couple of blocks away from the hostel, but the night is getting really cold. As we walk, I can see frost starting to cover the windows of the shops and cars on the street, so I try to walk as fast as I can.
I feel the silence hanging between us all, and I suddenly have this urge to be back in the hostel, warmly wrapped up in a blanket. I feel exposed, insecure, and the darkness of the night is making me nervous. If I was already on edge before with all the news and weird stuff going on, now this is 10 times worse. I try to scoot closer to Tane, who’s walking beside me, seeking some warmth and companionship, but his eyes are fixed on the road ahead, and he doesn’t react as I get closer.
"Fuck, it's getting so cold!" Em says as she pulls the neck of her jacket up, and then puts her hands in her pockets.
“It is,” I say as I walk towards her and lock my elbow with hers, putting my hand in my own pocket afterwards. Em looks at me and smiles a little.
As we keep walking, I get this eerie feeling in the back of my neck, and I rub my nape with my free hand, trying to appease the goosebumps that won’t go away. I look over my shoulder, but there's no one there. I rub at my neck again, having the uncanny feeling that I’m being watched. Maybe I'm just getting all anxious again. Or maybe my anxiety has turned into something worse, like paranoia.
I reach my hand up and hold the pounamu tightly in my fist, letting it's comforting feeling engulf me. I remind myself that I am in control, that I choose what stresses me.
But just in case, I walk a little faster.

✢✢✢
Tane

As I enter my room and close the door behind me, I hear the door next door close too. I picture Sam and Emma getting into their own room, dropping into their beds and probably chatting away until late at night. A part of me wants to try and eavesdrop, but I shake my head to get rid of the idea.
The room is small with a little window overlooking the street. There’s not much furniture either, only a single bed, a little wardrobe and a nightstand. I sit on the bed and lean down, my head between my knees as my palms press against my temples. My head is killing me, and I wonder if this is what a migraine feels like.
“What am I supposed to do now?” I whisper.
Things are getting much more complicated than I expected. It wasn't my intention to like her this much, to care so much. But as I talked with her this morning, and asked the questions I was meant to ask, I couldn’t help but feel a connection. My damned emotions are so hard to control.
And then we shared our breaths, and I'm sure I saw something there. Something so familiar, yet so foreign. I’m sure if I do it once more, I’ll manage to put the pieces together, but it might not be that simple.
I need to look at the bigger picture, I need to find the connection. I need to be able to do this. I need to succeed, or else it will all probably just go to shit. I get up and pace back and forth between the window and the door. If only I could know exactly what I'm up against, what all this is about.
But there’s so many pieces missing in this puzzle.
I'm about to turn around and head back towards the window when I see something in the nightstand. A piece of paper.
“How come I didn’t see that before?” I mutter.
I sit on the bed as I grab the piece of yellowish paper, unfold it, and read the words slowly.

‘Wait for the storm,
for rivers to rise.
Follow the thunder
towards the sky.

Return to the woods
and under the tree
where life blinks,
heed the plea.’

I read the words over and over, trying to make sense of them. I'm not sure I understand it all, but I still don't like the sound of it. The pools in my memory are driving me up the walls, and I feel so vulnerable and weak. I crumple the piece of paper in my hand, and I debate throwing it away, but I know that’s a bad idea.
As I stand up, the door to my room opens up abruptly. There's a Maori guy standing on the threshold staring at me, and panting. It looks like he ran all the way here or something. He's a bit taller than me, and broader, his dark hair is long and tied up in a bun, and his eyes are the colour of honey.
"Rongo?" I ask, a hint of doubt in my voice.
"Kia Ora brother, nice to see you again," he replies as he takes a deep breath and steps into the room. He closes the door with the heel and leans against it. "We need to talk."
"How are you even here?" I ask.
"That's not what matters… But for the record, Tawhiri helped me," he replies with a shrug.
"Tawhiri?! He despises me! And he got me caught up in a terrible storm only a few days ago."
"He might hate you a bit, but he's noble, and he's not doing it for you. Well, not only for you at least. He wants to help the girl, hence the rain, he's been trying to help her remember," he says as he points to my closed fist, where I still have the crumpled piece of paper, "Also, I heard what they asked of him, and I don't like this either." He sounds dead serious.
"I'm not sure I understand exactly what this means." I say as I hand him the piece of paper. My mind is still a puzzle I'm trying to figure out. "And what do you mean, help her remember?"
"I don't know how many straight answers I can give you before the rest of our brothers come looking for me, and turn me into a pulp for helping you, but I promised I'd help you if I could, so I'm here to do so." He walks around me and sits at the foot of the bed. "Let's look into this," he adds as he places the note over one knee and carefully unfolds it and runs his fingers along the edges to lay them flat.
For such a big guy, he's incredibly gentle. He reads in silence, and then seems to think it over.
"Well, the first part is pretty obvious," he says after a while. "And explains why Tawhiri told me to come now," I sit by his side, my legs crossed on top of the bed so I'm facing him. "And I think I have a pretty good idea about what woods this is referring to, but the place is huge, maybe we can go scout it in the morning?"
"Sounds good to me," I reply. I need to do something, anything.
The lack of action from the last couple of days has been driving me crazy, but I had no clues, nothing, at least not until I saw Sam's necklace in the car today. I knew I was meant to be looking for a spiral, but I was stupid enough to think it was a play of words or some other cryptic message. I never thought I was supposed to be looking for my Koru. And the question is, how did she get it?
"Do you know anything about the Koru?" I ask Rongo.
“I might,” he answers. “It’s the key of everything, but that my brother, is something that you need to remember yourself. You need to remember why you got yourself into this situation, why you need to save yourself.”
“Do you think I’m not trying?!” I raise my voice as I snatch the piece of paper out of his hands. This is ridiculous, how am I supposed to follow a quest if I don’t even know why? If I don’t even know what I did to deserve this punishment?
“Keep calm, brother, I know you’re trying, but this is all just part of the game. And the game is barely just starting.”
I know it is, and that’s what infuriates me the most. I’m scared to ask what I really want to know, but I have to. I won’t sleep otherwise. Well, I probably won’t sleep anyways now that Rongo is here.
“Is she in danger?” I say finally, my voice’s almost a whisper as I’m scared I was too loud before, and the girls might have heard me through the wall.
Rongo looks at me, and his hazel eyes seem to darken. He doesn’t say a word, but he doesn’t need to, I know him too well.
“Tomorrow, then,” I say as I put a hand right over his shoulder. “We’ll go scout, together.”
“Tomorrow,” he replies as he clasps his right hand on my shoulder and leans over, our noses touching, our eyes closed for a moment.
“I believe you can make it, brother,” he says as he pulls away.
His eyes are back to their honey shade, and for a moment, I believe him. I need to make it.

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