top of page

The Observer by Tucker Spolter 

Chapter 6

 It took the better part of three turns for Tyree, Hanar, and a handpicked contingent of four men and three women to reach the Nuaka delta. It wasn’t long before a muscular,  russet-haired woman dragged a young girl by the arm to stand in front of Hanar and Tyree. 

     “Uchi! Uchi,” screamed the girl.  Blinded by tears she kicked and struggled to escape. 

     “Good job Rake, where did you find this?” Tyree asked. 

     “A group of them were scooping wallo-clamps out of the delta mud. The rest of the brats bolted. This one,” she sneered, “wasn’t so fast.”

     “I tripped. YOU FAT OLD UCHI.” The girl shouted through weaping eyes.  

     Tyree leaned down. Close to the child’s face. “Stop that noise or you. . . will . . . be. . .

sorry.” Tyree hissed.

     The girl  struggled harder and cried louder. “SHENZI WEWE, UCHI!” 

     Tyree reached back, paused for a moment, then slapped the child hard across her cheek. Stunned, the child stopped crying and wiped her eyes with the back of muddy hands. Tyree leaned in closer still. 

     The young girl blinked away the dirt and for the first time and opened her eyes wide and screamed. “RED WITCH! You’re the Red Witch!”

     Tyree nodded. “Do you know what happens when the Red Witch takes you?”

     The little girl shivered a nod. All fight drained from her body. 

     “What happens to bad little girls when the Red Witch takes them?”

     “She. . .puts them in the dark place. . .”

     “And then?”

     “She makes them. . . eat the fat food.”

     “Go on.  And when they're nice and plump.”

     “She . . .She. . .”  The girl shivered. Tears welled up in her eyes.

     “You blubber again and I will slap you harder. Much harder.  Do you understand?”

     The girl stuttered.  “Ya . . . Yes.”

      “Good.  Now what happens to children after the Red Witch puts them in a deep, dark, cold place and makes them eat the fat food?”

     “There’s a. . . A. . . dinner.”

     Tyree rested her hand on the top of the little girl’s head and glared downward. “We like to call it a feast. But go on.” Tyree dug her fingernails into the child’s scalp.  “You’re doing so well.”

     Tears flowed. “And then. . . And then you eat—“

     “Enough!” Hanar sized Tyree’s arm and yanked her hand from the child’s head. “That's enough.”

     Tyree turned to her brother slowly glaring down at his hand on her arm, then into his eyes. “You? You dare to touch—“

     On Tyree’s left, Rake appeared out of nowhere brandishing a club embedded with strategically placed thorns and needle sharp bone fragments. She glared at Hanar. 


      Tyree held up her arm and chuckled derisively. “No. No Rake. Just having a little family discussion.” 

     Rake lowered her weapon. Looked again to Tyree for affirmation and shuffled away  purposely glance over her shoulder at Hanar. 

     “Your pet is well trained,” Hanar chide.  

     Tyree eyed the hand on her arm again. Hanar released his grip and tilted his head toward the young girl.  “She’s a child.”

     “And intelligent.” Tyree looked down at the little girl and addressed Hanar with a whisper. “You see, my older and wiser sibling; I was purposely observed doing several henious acts.  And now my legend grows with no effort on my part.  Violators and parents all over Iuama use me – the Red Witch –  to terrify their children into good behavior.  Tyree turned all of her attention back victim.  And this intelligent little girl is going to take us to her parents. . . Isn’t she?”

     The girl gave Hanar a pleading look, gave up hope and nodded.

     “And what is the name of this intelligent young girl?” Tyree coaxed.

     “. . .‘em. . .“

      “YOUR NAME.”  Tyree raised her hand. “You little foul mouthed tomba!”


     "So much better and such a lovely name for such a lovely girl.” Tyree shoved Opmo forward and said with an edge of glee. “Let’s all go and meet your mommy and daddy.”




     A cloud of yellow flyers burst from the canopy as Rake led team out of the dense foliage.  Only one catamaran sailboat was still tied to the ramshackle pier in the delta harbor.  A male and female stood on the bow frantically scanning the shore.  

     “Ma ma. Pa pa.” Opmo cried trying to free herself this time from Tyree’s steel grip.

     The couple on the bow hurried along the deck of the boat, down the ramp, and across a dilapidated pier to the shore. Their eyes darted from their daughter to Tyree. When Opmo tried to squirm away Tyree seized her ear and squezzed. Opmo squealed. 

     “Please,” The woman. “Don’t hurt her.”

     “I’ll do more than that.” Tyree released the ear and pointed to the empty harbor.  Where is our welcoming committee?  Surely you knew we were coming.” Tyree pointed to her brother. “This is Hanar oldest son of Sagra. I’m Tyree, second daughter,” she flipped her long red braid over her shoulder and pursed her lips. “Though I am known by other names,” she touched Opmo’s shoulder, “am I not, Opmo?” 

     Opmo shook her head up and down then took two quick steps towards freedom.

     “Rake! The girl.”

      For a big woman she was agile and quick.  She caught Opmo by the back of her tunic and lifted her high in the air. 

      “Please, please,” cried her mother frantically. 

       “Rake, put her down.” Hanar stepped forward “We want a boat. A fast boat.” 


     Rake looked at Tyree.  Tyree nodded.   Rake dropped Opmo from her grasp.

     Conflicting waves of anger and desperation washed over the face of Opmo’s father.  He turned and watched as Rake and the rest of Hanar’s contingent climb onto his boat. His right hand inched slowly to the hilt of a studded fishing knife at his side.

     Hanar coughed loudly catching the man’s attention. With his eyes and a slight tilt of his head,  Hanar silently warned the man ‘don’t-do-anything-stupid.’ In a low calm voice Hanar asked again. “We will need a boat. But only for a short time.”

     Behind Tyree mumbled, ‘for as long as we like.’

“We will need your best sailor and a small crew. In exchange, we will return Opmo when we return.”

     Opmo’s mother whispered in her husband’s ear. He nodded. When she continued whispering a soft smile crossed the man's lips.

     “Something funny?” Tyree demanded. “You folks find something to laugh at?”

     The man jerked. “No, no, nothing funny. Nothing funny at all.” His wife nudged him. “I. . . Uqu and I . . .Might have something . . . We might know something of interest. . . That might be important to you and our leader of the Council of Equals, Sagra Kalam.  We would be willing to. . . We would give you . . . if you would give us back our Opmo.” The man bowed his head and shuffled nervously.

     “What is your name?”  Tyree demanded.

      “I am Lawn.”

     Hanar whispered to his sister. “We have no use for the child. Let’s hear what they have to offer.” Tyree nodded, but when Hanar stepped forward Tyree yanked him back by the sleeve of his tunic with one hand and dragged Opmo forward with the other. She glared at the couple.

     “I understand delta children learn to swim before they take their first steps. Is that correct?” The Lawn and Uqu nodded in confusion. "Aren't the delta people  the best swimmers on Lakal? Don't you venture into the waters of the deep ocean and the Flea Islands? Am I correct?” The Lawn and Uqu nodded. “Ah, then the people of the delta so seldom. . .” Tyree put a hand on each of Opmo’s shoulders and pushed down. Hard. 

     With all her strength, Opmo resisted.

     Tyree pushed down harder. “Have the opportunity shall we say. . .” Opmo’s knees buckled. “To watch a child drown!”

     Opmo whimpered. Tyree released her grip. “If you have something you would like to share with Hanar, only son of Sagra, or his second daughter –  you will be remembered favorably.” Opmo fought the urge to cry and finally gave in.  It was a stifled cry. Followed by an angry wimper. 

     “You’re-looking-for- a - sky - ship.” Uqu sputtered. 

     “We are.” Hanar said gently. Glaring at Tyree.

     “It passed in the afternoon three turns ago.”

      “In which direction?” Hanar asked.

      The woman pointed south and reached for her daughter. 

      Tyree snatched Opmo back, “Not so fast mama!”

bottom of page