"The Bamboo Grove"

This blog post has spoilers for The Hiwau and the Moon Consort. If you have not read up to Chapter Twenty-three ("The Rock") on Figment get off this page. Shoo!

So, it's a little crazy to finally reach this place in H+MC. I like to think of these last couple chapters as the end of the first major plot arc: the Comet Spirit's banishment from the High Plain of Heaven.

P+FD's narrative evolved in a similar fashion. After being briefly introduced to Asuka and Chirikai, we bounced back in time four years to understand what Chirikai did in the capital that gave him a reputation, as well as understand Asuka. After about eleven "full" chapters, that backstory arc finished, and Asuka and Chirikai-Kouji "married" at the start of the second arc. 

H+MC isn't too different. This first arc opened with the Moon God trying to escape his sister and get some peace and quiet, but in a moment of impulse, he grabs a falling comet from the sky and saves the spirit. The Moon God keeps the rock of the comet, however, and does not give her this piece of herself that's so crucial because he wants to keep her safe (and close). 

At the Banquet, the Comet Spirit meets the God of Illusion. P+FD readers should recognize Chirikai's father (Retan Shitunpe) under the different title. Retan Shitunpe puts on a bit of a show with the Comet Spirit, leading everyone to believe that she is more than she seems... that the powerful Illusion God (and former consort to the Sun Goddess) fell under her spell. Retan Shitunpe has no desire to correct her. 

Although uneasy with this reputation, the Comet Spirit quickly discovers the power it gives her in the rigid, hierarchal Lodge of the Moon God. Finally giving in to what she believes her reputation requires, she begins a string of affairs and dismisses lovers the moment she loses interest. All the while, she maintains a friendship with the Moon God, who tries to keep her at arms length because of his attraction to her and his fear that he will abuse his position, as well as take advantage of owning her rock. 

Eventually the two succumb to their passions. In the midst of their relationship, the Moon God decides to name her the Moon Consort, and in the process, tells the Comet Spirit that he also controls time. 

The situation spirals out of control, however, when the Sun Goddess finds out about the Moon Consort title, which "places" the Moon Consort about her in the hierarchy. When she demands that her brother cancel the title, he refuses. Fighting breaks out between the Sun Goddess and the Moon God. 

My light outline for the last scenes of the arc

Shortly after, the Comet Spirit finds out that the Moon God has "kept" her all along, and she furiously confronts him after he almost destroys his sister. 

What follows is How Not to Break Up with a Celestial Being.

In a short, nasty fight, the ugly sides of both characters emerge: the tyrannical nature of the Moon God, who is overpowered and truly bound by nothing but himself, and the selfish, impulsive nature of the Comet Spirit. 

Between two characters that only pages before declared their love for each other. 

The Comet Spirit says some mean things, and the Moon God snaps. Instead of banishing her, the Moon God spins back time and turns her into a child. Then he casts her out. 

This full chapter is actually called "The Bamboo Grove" for the spot where the Comet Spirit crash-lands. 

The last couple chapters have passed so quickly for me, but I have enjoyed writing them. When I was originally outlining, I thought I could pull off this arc in four chapters, almost half of what there is now. But I like this fleshed-out version more. 

One thing I did avoid in this Figment draft is emphasizing the "sequel" nature of H+MC. The main loose end of this first arc is not a loose end at all, to a P+FD reader with an eagle eye. In this opening arc, Retan Shitunpe plays a pivotal role in the Comet Spirit's ascent, and the consequential humiliation of the Sun Goddess which starts the conflict with her brother. Retan Shitunpe also shows up at the Lodge, wrecking her plans of having the Perception God overturn the Moon God's judgment. But someone who's only read H+MC might wonder, why?

The Illusion God is a murky character, so it might be natural to just see him as a chaos-loving agent. Which he is. But in this case, Retan Shitunpe still hates the Sun Goddess for her actions at the end of P+FD. In the final arc, Retan Shitunpe wants to kill the hiwau, who killed his wife. The Sun Goddess wants to preserve her human dynasty. When the two face off, the Sun Goddess threatens his son, and in the ensuing madness, things happen for which Retan Shitunpe will not be forgiving the Sun Goddess. 

This arc skidded across the surface of a lot of issues, most of which will be echoing through the rest of the novel. Siblings, power, freedom, authority, and to what extent we'll sacrifice for family. 

About a hundred years have passed since the end of P+FD when the Comet Spirit crashes in the bamboo grove. This week we'll be meeting our hiwau... and someone else.