The very first thing Utel did upon waking up was to start planting her garden. As sure as Nork was that they were going to get kicked out of the village, was as sure as she was that they would be staying. She had faith in her vision. And her vision told her this is where she would live and raise her children. To do that, she would need a steady stock of food. The best way to achieve that, as far as she knew, was a garden that would produce all year round. The plants she had collected on the trip were a good starts, but she would need others as the seasons progressed.
Nork awoke feeling every bit of dirt from their long trek sticking to him uncomfortably… and his first thought was to follow the sound of rushing water to get clean. He found a waterfall, and gratefully washed himself until the grime from the journey was gone and he finally felt fresh and clean again. Then, he stood around for a moment, deciding what to do. Being as worried as he was about getting them kicked out of the village, he decided to go join the fishermen that the chief had mentioned for the day.
The Fishermen turned out to be a bunch of jovial fellows, who were more than willing to have Nork join them for the day. In fact, they welcomed him wholeheartedly to the village, which made Nork feel ever so much more welcome.
They showed him some of the best fishing locations around, and they caught a decent haul to feed the village, along with just enough for Nork to take home a fish or two to his hut for dinner. (He had been quick to say he didn’t need more, because his traveling companion wouldn’t eat fish – which ensured several rounds of hilarity with the men.) He said farewell to Brak, Dhok, and Tik, and headed back to his camp.
The sun was setting by the time be got home, and Utel was apparently already asleep, so he built a fire as quietly as he could and cooked his well-earned dinner. He was afraid to do too much to make this a home just yet, but, with Utel’s efforts at gardening, it was clearly already looking like a decent homestead.
In the morning, Utel work up early to take care of her plants. And then she had a thought. They would do so much better in better soil than the sandy beach soil. Perhaps Nork was handy with tools and could make her some raised garden beds? She was more than willing to get good jungle soil from the areas around the beach and move it to their garden, but she had to have a way to keep it here. So, she brought her idea to Nork.
Nork, who was feeling magnanimous after a good sleep and a great day yesterday, agreed to try. He built himself a workbench and started working immediately. He then pointed out the waterfall, trying not to wrinkle his nose too much and offend the stinky Utel.
Utel, of course, knew very well where the waterfall was, but she wasn’t going to tell Nork that. She went and washed up, then spent some time catching frogs and playing in the water. It was a glorious day, and she couldn’t see any reason to not celebrate it.
On the way back, she found some trash on the beach and quickly cleaned it up. She believed in keeping her environment clean – even if it wasn’t at her homestead.
Nork was taking a break for lunch when she returned, and had already made great progress on building planter beds for her garden. Utel thanked him profusely, and offered him some herbs to make his fish taste better.
Warily, he sprinkled some on the fish while it was cooking, and immediately a mouthwatering aroma filled the area. His eyes lit up, and Utel could see her gift was more than payment enough for the garden boxes. The rest of the day was spent in companionable silence, Nork working on boxes, and Utel filling the ones he’d built and transplanting the plants into their new homes.
By the end of the day, they were both exhausted, but happy with the work they had done, and Utel couldn’t help but give Nork a big hug for all he had done. He was surprised, but, amazingly, not upset about her intrusion into his personal space. Both headed to bed full, tired, and content.. a recipe for a good night’s sleep.
The next morning, Nork surprised Utel with a Bee Box. He’d even found a hive and managed to transplant them into the box already. This would mean her plants would thrive.
Utel couldn’t help it. She jumped excitedly into Nork’s arms to thank him for his hard work.. and then wondered if he had held her close that long on purpose.
Not long after breakfast, Chief Guar and Saelua stopped by with good news. The chief had had a meeting with his elders, and after watching Nork and Utel’s work ethics and efforts to make a home, the elders had decided that Nork and Utel were more than welcome to join the tribe officially. A ceremony was planned for a few nights from then, and they were strongly cautioned to attend in their best clothes.
Saelua had other news. She had had another vision regarding Utel.. and this one showed her very pregnant, and very happy. At first, Utel laughed, but Saelua assured her that Nork was the man she should pursue for the strongest child. And Utel definitely wanted her child to be strong and capable. After some thought, Utel decided there was nothing to lose by at least trying a couple times. If the vision was true, the seed would be laid easily, right?
So, after the chief and the mystic left, Utel propsitioned Nork. Being a red-blooded male, he wasn’t about to refuse her, either…
… So the courtship began in earnest.
Once they were both exhausted, Nork dug up a pit for cooking in, and Utel prepared a feast of island vegetables to celebrate their acceptance to the village. It took a while to cook.. but by the time it was done, even Nork couldn’t resist the smells coming from the cooking pit.
Nork tried to remain taciturn, but it was hard when the food was this good. They both ate off of white shells that Saelua had brought them, and thoroughly enjoyed every bit of the meal. Then, they retired for the evening.
A day or two went by, and they finally fell into a companionable rhythm. Nork would go fish with his buddies, Utel would garden. Saelua had brought some more plants for her to add to her garden, and it was growing fabulously. Already she was starting to get some decent harvests.
And even more important.. her belly was growing. Sealua hadn’t been kidding when she said Nork was the strong male Utel needed to choose. There was now a baby on the way – even more reason for Utel to be glad for the official ceremony to bring them into the tribe.