The Secrets of Sake: Part 5 Hakkou

Part 5

HAKKOU


(Part 1 is HERE)

"The Creators" were a god-like alpha race to the tiny, simple folk called Sakamai. The Sakamai lived blissfully unaware that these behemoths designed and cultivated all they had ever enjoyed until it was brutally taken away. After weeks of increasingly confusing transformations were forced upon them, the Sakamai found themselves reunited, divided, and reunited once more, as an even-stranger state, akin to an afterlife was induced. Their consciousness remained intact - unified in fact. Their new, formless hive mind floated in an ever cloudier sea of the hollowed-out deteriorating remains of their former, physical bodies. Eviscerated by the peculiar, psychic, gnome-like beings called Koji. 

"No matter." They thought serenely, "Now our minds are united as one, and sustained without the need for our corporeal shells". The Sakamai were evolving beyond their former, timid ways. Having transcended their physical form and still retaining a sense of identity and community had emboldened them. They understood this was part of The Creators' plan. Even though they still had no idea why the Creators wanted this, the formerly weak and terrified villagers of Tanbo were grateful.

Just as losing one sense can heighten the others, the loss of their shells enhanced the Sakamais' awareness of their surroundings in new ways. If they had eyes to see, all would have appeared white. If they had tongues to taste, they would notice the same sweetness the Koji had mentioned days earlier. Instead, they could feel it, as the water became more buoyant. Morbidly, they could tell it was their own remains, made sugary by the Koji's processing, and melting into the previously pristine water. They knew that it was dark and warm in the foamy sea that was at once their new home and their prison. They knew that the Koji were still thriving, multiplying, and more content than ever. 

Although they had no ears to hear and lost their psychic connection to the Koji, the Sakamai could still sense the Koji's gratitude. "It is like they are experiencing our lives in reverse," they thought. "We started with freedom, abundance, and blissfully unaware of our higher power. The Koji began in captivity and scarcity, but with a far better understanding of what was to come. Their separation was a matter of routine, while ours was frightening.  They were separated from their clan only to be given our bodies and start clans of their own. Now they battle for resources with... something else. 'Something small' the Sakamai recalled the Koji thinking.

Then there was the other troubling matter of this third, mysterious presence. At first, only the Koji could tell. Even with the Sakamai's newly enhanced awareness, in the beginning, they too were only just barely able to sense it, like a shadow moving in the dark. After a day of the feeling they were somehow being pinched at around the edge of their consciousness, they noticed the newcomer was growing rapidly. 

Eventually, their actions became clear. The beings and their kin were like swarms of tiny insects. The Sakamai took to thinking of them as such, naming them "Kin". As the Koji finished eating one Sakamai husk, the Kin would collecaround what sweet bits remained. Over the following weeks, that change grew faster and faster. The sweet thickness that hung in the water was disappearing as thick gaseous bubbles formed spontaneously wherever the swarms of Kin collected, which was everywhere.

While the Koji had reproduced quickly at first, their colony soon stabilized, making orderly family units that orbited about in the water, methodical and organized about their work of farming what was left of the Sakamai's old bodies. The Kin's lives were as short as they were prodigious. These little ones would die almost immediately after they multiplied. In just the first week, the bottom of the tank all three now shared was already a thick goop of the first hundred generations of Kin that came and went. 

Besides the bubbles and offspring, the Kin had been making something else. Not alive, and nothing the Sakamai would have noticed in their former lives, but in their newer, subtler realm of existence, they could sense little shapes that now hung invisibly in the water. "Interesting..." though the Sakamai, concentrating on the shapes and probing deeper with their minds. They noticed something about the way the shapes "felt" and slipped about that reminded the Sakamai of a feeling they had long forgotten during their trials. "These things..." they remarked unanimously, "these are fun!" They liked the shape, if for no other reason than one likes a certain color. Something about how it rippled, rolled, and lolled about in the water just made them... happy. If the Sakamai had mouths, they would have laughed! 

But just as they discovered this spark of joy, The Creators were back. "What adventure lies in store next?" They wondered unafraid. Resolute, they would face the next change with a sense of purpose and hunger to discover where all of this was leading...

(Part 6 is HERE)

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