There is a tale told of an old and hidden island

Some time ago, long before the blossoming of the lotus in fact.
And, come to think of it, even before the setting of the great mountain Triiutanna into stone, lived a turtle named Goyanakazu.

Now Goyanakazu was an old turtle indeed…
So old, some say, that he tasted the first drop of water on the earth when it fell from the sky. Fine old Goyanakazu liked nothing better than to sit in the sun by the oceans edge and feel it lap up against his shell. He could sit there for hours on end when the water was gentle; simply dreaming away time…. AND if any creature passing came near this old man of the sea he would play dead until they got close enough when he would snap at them with his beak- for time had caused Goyanakazu to grow grumpy and he liked to be left alone with his time, holding no care or where-how for the likes of passers by.

Before this story carries on we must correct one thing, but it is one thing that you would not readily know needs correcting… for Goyanakazu held a secret… and his secret was this:
Goyanakazu loved to sit in the sun, by the oceans edge and feel it lap against his shell second in the whole world and not first above all things as we had previously been led to believe. His first love was for the berries of the brilliant tree in the centre of the Tzuninna woods just up from his beach. He had watched that tree grow from the seed, which had been planted by Tsuru-san when he returned from the Eastern islands many many moons ago. He watched that tree grow and come to bear fruit and he had been the first to taste it and the first to love it. But poor Goyanakazu who had lived so very very long; the tree, which had begun as a tiny stem, was now a great and brilliant tree, with silver bark and thin beautiful leaves which moved with the wind… and Goyanakazu, grumpy old Goyanakazu was now too small to reach any berry and too weak to knock any down – hence his grumpy disposition.

So he sat each day, by the ocean and dreamt of berries while the water lapped gently against his shell.
That is… until…
… one Sunday…
at around midday…
… probably 1.25 but possibly later since Goyanakazu had been dreaming time away and who could possibly say what was when or when was how?

Goyanakazu was sitting with the water…

*Bump*

“Gwahwuffhua ah ah ah!” went Goyanakazu as he woke and he stuck his head out and started snapping with his beak!
Left and right he snapped while ‘gwahwuffhuaing’ away.
But nothing, not a yelp or a cry… nor did he feel his beak pinch anything or anyone…
He gave one last ‘gwahwuffhua’ just for good measure and was about to settle back down to dreaming of berries when he felt something move… something on his shell!
“Who goes there?” he cried out, a little afraid but very much more annoyed.

Silence.
“Hoi there, who goes there!!??” he said again, a little more afraid this time.

“Master turtle,” said a little voice. “Please no more snapping with your beak, I am here on your shell quite by accident you see and I mean not to be bitten for it”.

Goyanakazu gave a ‘gwahwuffhua’ and said:
“Come down then off my shell little voice and we shall see what kind of accident you are”.

*Plop*…*Plop*… Heard Goyanakazu in the wet sand and into his vision, looking very un-happy about being near the water, was a young black cat.

“My name…” said the cat, “Is Bastet, and I am no accident – I am an adventurer!”

Goyanakazu eyed the cat up and down.

“Well, well, well…” he said, “And what is an adventurer doing sitting on my shell and waking me from my dreams?!?”
Then he added:
“I should bite you with my beak I believe, and bite you hard – I have no time for passers by, even accidental adventuring ones!” And he glared at the cat with a squinty eye while he rocked his head menacingly.

“Master turtle…” said the cat in a forceful tone.
“I am a guest of yours, delivered by the sea. I set off in that coconut shell, which bumped you, for the Eastern islands but became lost when the wind changed. So I ended up here, on your island, on your shell; because I didn’t wish to get my paws wet when I crashed.” she explained and looked at her soggy paws with an annoyed look.

“That is as maybe… and maybe it is that, but maybe it isn’t. I have time for neither so away with you now black cat, before my beak gets the better of my judgement and decides to bite you itself!” Goyanakazu said.

“You are a grumpy thing master turtle, a grumpy thing indeed… I shall leave you then and explore this island!” said the black cat and started up the beach.
“Good day!”

“Good mid-day riddance to YOU!” Goyanakazu grumbled after her.
… Now he was just about to settle down to dreaming again when the cats words set in and he jumped with a start.
“HOI… HOI I say,” he called after the cat. “HOI! You can’t just arrive on my shell and leave to explore MY island!”

Bastet stopped and looked over her shoulder.
“Master turtle, what would you have me do? I am an adventurer and I have landed on this island, quite by accident it is true… but since I am here I shall explore. Good mid-day to you.” she said turning around and starting up the beach again.
The cat stepped into the woods, leaving behind her the grumbling and puffing sounds coming from the turtle. She jumped over logs, and from stone to stone with one eye trained on the trees and one on the ground which she thought was best because then she could quickly spot anything interesting and pounce upon it or pad with her paws before they scurried or flapped, away as interesting things sometimes do. Whilst doing all this she thought to herself ‘What a fine adventure today has become, how she should love to discover a treasure or a secret or some such wonder!’
Bastet hopped and flipped up onto the top of a stone then sat back to have a better look around.
‘What a funny wood this is,’ she thought. ‘There are no birds to speak of and no butterflies, no bright coloured bugs or marching ants.’
As she looked around she noticed all the trees were very old trees and the air was very still and very quiet…
‘Curious,’ thought Bastet, and smiled a wide cat smile.

Goyanakazu pulled himself up the beach grumbling between huffs and puffs.

‘That cat,’ he thought, ‘That cat, on my island… nosing around my woods… It’s not right, not proper behaviour of a guest!’
“Gwahwuffhua!” he cried out, “Not a guest! Not a guest, an intruder!” he stammered and gave an angry snap at the air with his beak.
Goyanakazu dropped his head, ‘I haven’t had a guest in over a thousand years…’ he thought to himself and he shed a salty tear.

*Bump*

“Hoi there, who goes there!!??” Goyanakazu cried out and whirled his head around and around, beak open!

“Master turtle…” came a little voice, “You are such grumpy thing!”
“…It’s me, your adventuring guest of course.” said the cat.

“Bwah… mmmm,” muttered the turtle.

“Master turtle…” said the cat hopping down and sitting in front of him,
“On my grand adventure of your even grander island I have discovered that there are no birds to speak of, no bugs to be seen and all the trees seem curiously old… Why is this so?” she purred at him.

“Hmmph…” said the turtle, but then straightened up because he had liked the part of her question where she said his island was a grand island. So, all happy with himself for simply this reason Goyanakazu replied:

“Little miss cat, this island is a very old island… it is at least as old as I am because it was here when I arrived and it was when I arrived that everything was here so it’s quite possibly older than I am, though it is also quite probable that I am older than it – but in any case, it is an old island.”
As he said this Goyanakazu waved a flipper as if he was painting out his last statement in the air.
“Therefore…” he continued, “It has reached its oldest age as an island and when things are as old as we are they become crystallised, they become correct and they no longer need new additions.”

The cat looked at him with wild eyes, then frowned and said:
“Master turtle, are you implying that old things have no use of new things?”
“Why I’m positive that I could be of use to you, I can jump and I can hop and I can hunt, I can see in the dark, I can sing and I can climb trees!” she said smartly.

“Boo…” said the turtle, “I have no need for these things… I can swim and dive and catch fish, I sleep at night, the whales sing to me and I… I… you can climb trees??” he stammered.

“Oh yes,” said the cat, “Right to the top.” she added proudly.

Goyanakazu was smiling a hungry, hungry smile which the cat noticed and made her feel a little strange.
He looked at her, smiled and said:
“Dear miss adventuring cat… This island of mine is very lucky to have such a fine explorer visit our shores… It just so happens that there is a great and wonderful tree within the woods that I would dearly love to climb but simply cannot… Would you kindly climb it for me?”

Bastet flicked her tail and said:
“Why master turtle, I should very much like to climb this tree for you; we should go at once!”

“Indeed we should!” cried the turtle and clapped his flippers together.

So the cat and the turtle started up the beach into the woods toward the great and wonderful tree.
On the journey Bastet hopped from rock to rock hoping to impress Goyanakazu.
Goyanakazu however, with little interest in this, turned to the cat and said to her in a grave voice:
“Little miss… Before we reach this tree there is something I must tell you…”

The cat stopped and looked at him, her head cocked to the side.

“The thing is,” the turtle continued, “This tree is no ordinary tree, its fruit is poison to all but a few creatures and those creatures are few and far between… So you must promise me you won’t taste of the tree!”

The cat looked at the turtle for a moment before she smiled and laughing a little she said:
“Oh master turtle, you are funny… I’m a cat… I don’t eat fruit!” and she hopped across some rocks just to prove her catness!

The turtle blushed a little because he felt foolish but he was also happy, as he knew the dangers of the tree and although he was a grumpy old thing he wished no real harm to anyone.

Presently they came across a clearing and there before them, swaying in the wind was the great and brilliant tree with its silver bark and its thin beautiful leaves.
Bastet started up the tree straight away making a shrill whinny sound. She hopped up branches and bounced on limbs.

“Hoi.. HOi!!” came a voice.

Bastet stopped and looked down at Goyanakazu, but the turtle was looking up at her with a confused look on his face.

“Hoi there… Who is making all that shaking?!?” came the voice again.

“Does the tree… TALK?!?” cried Bastet down to the turtle.

Goyanakazu was about to open his mouth when Bastet was startled by a movement above her, she scrambled back along the branch just as a large crow poked his head down and jerked it around… When it spied the cat it gave out a cry and ruffled itself up calling out:
“Caww!! Caww!! A cat in my tree!!”

Now, up until this point Goyanakazu had been so shocked at the whole goings on that he was simply staring in silence, beak open and eyes wide… But this was too much for him now – He called out:
“Hoi there crow, this tree is MY tree… MY TREE!! Not yours!”

Well, the crow hadn’t even seen the turtle and upon hearing this he jerked his head down, beady eye twitching and cried out while flapping his wings:
“Invaded!! I’m being invaded!!… Oh mercy!!”

Bastet took this opportunity to pounce on the crow; because this is what cats do best! She took care not to hurt him but held him tight and with a menacing look said:
“Hold still Mr Crow or I shall eat you up then ask questions!”

The crow, muttering ‘mercy, mercy’, shook and shivered but did as he was told.

“Now…” said the cat, “What are you doing in the turtles tree?!?”

“Ask him what he is doing in my tree!?” cried Goyanakazu.

“I did,” shouted the cat.

“Well, what is he saying?” cried the turtle.

“He hasn’t answered,” cried the cat. “He just mutters mercy, mercy.”

“Well, ask him again!” cried the turtle.

The cat breathed a slightly annoyed sigh, she was quite adept at catching things and asking questions; being a curious cat and all.

“Ok…” she cried down.
“Now, again Mr Crow… What are you doing in the turtle’s tree?”

The crow stammered a little and replied:
“T..t..THIS is my tree and my father’s tree before me. Why I’ve lived here all my life, eaten these berries all my life and slept in these branches all my life!”
The crow then cried out, “OH PLEASE DON’T EAT ME FINE AND WONDEROUS CAT!”

The cat shouted this down to the turtle, who looking very annoyed, pondered for a moment before replying that he had never seen this crow before and therefore he must be lying!
The crow heard this and started to panic saying:
“No. No! I’m not lying, I’ve lived here all my life, ALL MY LIFE and I’ve never once spied a turtle or any other living thing on this island, I sit in this tree and eat these berries and dream the greatest of dreams.”

Now Bastet was getting confused, both said the tree was theirs and neither had ever met before which seemed rather curious. Thinking on this she called down to the turtle:
“When was the last time you were here Master Turtle?”

“Why only the other day.” came the reply.

“No.. Nooo.. Mercy!” cried the crow.

“Well, when exactly was that?” Asked the cat.

“Oh… Who can tell…” said the turtle waving a flipper. “Sometime in the last 200 years I guess.”

The cat and the crow looked at each other, looked down at the turtle and cried out in unison:
“The last 200 years or so!?”

“Yep…” said the turtle, “It’s my shell you see, getting so heavy these days and the tree keeps growing so now I can’t reach the fruit or bash any down so I just visit the tree every now and then in the hope of finding some berries on the ground.”

“Oh, there won’t be any berries on the ground…” the crow said smartly. “I gobble up all the fresh ones each da…”
He stopped before he finished his sentence, suddenly aware of what he was saying.

“YOU eat all the fruit!?” the turtle cried up. “YOU EAT ALL THE FRUIT!!”

The crow looked down at the angry turtle and then turned to the cat and let out the most pitying cry of: “MERCY!”

“EAT HIM… Eat him up, the berry thief!” shouted up Goyanakazu to the cat.

Now although Bastet was a good hunter and a meat-eating creature she wasn’t used to simply eating anything, let alone a talking crow.

It is here we should take a pause from this tale and come to understand something:
It is true to say that animals cannot talk as humans do; each animal has their own language… BUT… It is true to say that certain animals and certain people CAN speak the same language, which can be understood by any creature alike. Now, these beings are few and far between but one can learn to understand this language if it is in their heart to do so. And if it is in their heart to do so then in all good conscience they understand one thing above all others – That they share the same essence of spirit and it is this that allows them to communicate.
As far as those are concerned who cannot understand this language then they are either simple creatures, creatures that have not yet come to understand themselves or creatures of a different spirit.
Therefore it would be a terrible thing for Bastet to eat this crow because they share the same spirit. It is equally a terrible thing that Goyanakazu is so annoyed that he has forgotten this kinship!

Bastet turned and shouted down to the turtle:
“I shall not eat our brother the crow Master turtle, as well you should know… Now, I propose that we discuss this situation again and see if we cannot find a solution!”

The crow looked down and the turtle with pleading eyes and the turtle looked up at the crow slightly ashamed and they began to talk again.

Amongst their discussions they came to the following conclusion:
That the turtle and the crow, whose name was Caranaux, would become friends and they would share the berries from the tree. Each day Goyanakazu would journey up into the woods and Caranaux would drop down fruit for him. They would both dream the loveliest of dream and would share stories with each other.

In return for her help in the matter Goyanakazu offered to take the cat across the sea on his back to the Eastern islands and it is here that we rejoin the story.

Bastet hopped up onto Goyanakazu’s shell as he pulled himself into the water. He swam across the seas and into a thick fog, which seemed to cover the whole horizon.

“This fog is a majickal fog,” proclaimed Goyanakazu. “It stops… It’s supposed to stop visitors from arriving at my island. As I said before, that tree is a very dangerous tree and it must be kept safe!”

“Then I shall keep the location of your island a secret master turtle, but I shall tell tales of you as they are wondrous tales to be told!” said the cat smartly.

The turtle was pleased with this and he said no more on the matter.

After some time they arrived at the shore where the cat hopped off and turned, giving the turtle a kiss:
“Thank you ever so much master turtle,” said the cat.

“You are welcome little one,” replied the turtle, blushing.

“Well… Adventure awaits!” cried the cat and with her tale twitching turned and hopped up the beach toward the town.

“Good luck to you, girl,” whispered the turtle as he returned to the ocean.

As Goyanakazu sank under the waves a figure moved in the shadows at the edge of town, a figure that had been watching.