“Oh, look, Matilda, isn’t that lovely?”
Allan didn’t hate tourists, not the way his sister did, but he found many of them a little too blind to be believable.
Like these two. The routine they were watching was… well, it probably was lovely. Allan and five women, all of them native to this small coastal island, were swinging weighted strings in a carefully-choreographed routine that meant sometimes a weight swung fractions of a an inch from his face. The art had been old long before his people had stolen it from a much more ancient people, and even then it had been more than a show of skill. But from the look on the women’s faces, they saw nothing but a pretty show.
On the side of the stage, Allene stomped three times. Allan stepped forward on cue. He bowed his head and caught the oldest woman’s eye: Bold, brazen, shameless. He winked.
Allan knew they had magic on the mainland. He’d heard that they pretended not to, that they explained it away with explanations so thin a child could discredit them. But they had the magic there; they had the demons there. And they saw… lovely dancing.
They tourists thought he was lovely, too. That was half the reason he danced this routine, although it was traditionally a woman’s dance. The lady tourists tipped very nicely to see him topless. The male tourists tipped because their pride was piqued.
Allene stomped again. From the sidelines, their uncle Edward swung in one more string. The tourists gasped. Allene’s poi lit on fire; she did a loud shuffle step, and they all did their own shuffle-step just so.
In a moment, all the strings were lit. As the sun went down, Allan caught the tourist’s eye again. He say her eyebrows lift as they completed the blessing, Allan’s fire tracing the ritual lines in the air.
He didn’t hate them, no matter what his sister said. For Allan, the challenge was getting them to admit that they were not truly blind.
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