The night was giving way to the new day, when Ja was the first to see the Needle on the horizon. It was hit by the first rays of the sun, which had just appeared at their right, and was shining like a long thorn of crystal pointing upwards.
"There!" the young slave shouted, stopping and pointing straight ahead.
"The Castle of the Needle!" Toma whispered, excited.
"It still seems intact, from here," Masu said.
"Listening to your voices, I would say that it is really beautiful," Kuda observed.
"It is like a vision, it's shiny, thin, and so tall!" Ja described. "It's wider at the base and gradually becomes very thin towards the top."
"Let's go!" Toma urged them, as if taken by a sudden rush.
They speeded up their pace. The needle did not seem to grow in size, as they were still far away. But at least they noticed that the tip was still visible even when they walked in a hollow between two sand dunes.
Then all of a sudden they were in front of it. To see its top they had to crane their heads backward. The castle stood on a low hill; from above a wall was spiraling down until it ended at a strip of sand that was crossing a hollow ring surrounding the base of the hill. They went around the hollow towards the strip of sand to cross it, going to the wall.
Once there they saw that it ended in an arc closed by a tall and massive wooden gate, reinforced with thick brown metal strips, which crossed diagonally to form diamond shapes. The sand was not piled in front of the door, as if someone had swept it away. They approached the door and saw that under the arch that crowned it, a few words were engraved:
"Gate of the Dragon - Lightness opens me"
Masu tried to push the leaves, but the door did not budge.
"What ever may mean that the lightness opens it?" Toma asked, approaching the door, and gently pushing the door with a finger, without result.
"Can we climb the wall?" Ja asked.
"No, it's too smooth and too high," Toma noted.
They tried to push it in several places, now strongly, now gently, but the door remained closed.
"Perhaps we should push or move one of the stones of the arch," Ja suggested.
They tried, but none of the stones moved. Then Toma noticed that, at the height of their eyes, at the intersection of the strips of metal that met at the center of the right leaf, next to the large head of the nail that held them in place, there was a hole no bigger than a grain of sand. He tried to look inside, but nothing could be seen. He blew, thinking to free it from the sand that perhaps obstructed it... There was a slight noise, coming from inside the door leaf.
Toma blew again and the light noise came again. "Light as a breath," the young man murmured, and again he blew gently into the hole. Again he felt that subtle noise. When Toma blew for the fourth time, this time the noise continued, strengthened, and slowly the great doors swung open.
The four friends crossed the threshold. In front of them was the road that spiraled up running around the castle, between two high and smooth walls of stone. They had just taken the road, when they heard the heavy door close behind them with a thud. As they turned to look they saw that, hidden by the wings when they were opened, there were piles of human bones...
Other skeletons littered the road as they went up. After a tour around the hill, they found themselves in front of a second door. This seemed made of bronze, and had depicted several scenes in bas-relief in panels at its base. Higher up the great gate was smooth and bright as a mirror. Under the stone arch that crowned it there was a writing:
"Gate of the Magician - Perfection opens me."
"I don't see holes in which to blow here," Toma muttered observing it.
Ja watched the door from a distance, thoughtfully. Then he seemed to brighten.
"The magician, the perfection... the magic and perfect numbers... look, in the third panel on the left is depicted a sword, in this on the right a pair of lovers, then this has four amphorae and there... eight flowers... here are sixteen leaves..."
Saying so Ja went back and forth in front of the closed leaves of the great door and pressed the panels he named, in that order. When he finally pressed the last of the panels, which depicted the hundred and twenty-eight stars, in the door was heard a click and also this gate opened.
As soon as the four friends crossed it, the door closed again behind them with a muffled thud. Also along this stretch of road there were lots of skeletons, but less than in the first part. They walked in silence, completing the second, narrower round until they found themselves in front of the third great gate. Together they watched upwards, as they knew there had to be some writing under the stone arch. They read aloud:
"Gate of Mystery - Memory opens me."
The door was made of pure, solid silver, with long flutes running through it from bottom to top, culminating with parts in the form of embossed leaves with a silver flower on top. Masu beat the gate's wings with the hilt of his sword and from the door rose a ringing sound, but it remained closed.
Kuda smiled and walked to the door, placing himself in front of it, while it still was echoing faintly. He waited until the sound faded away, then took his harp and played the eight discordant notes in the scale that he had to learn by heart and which did not have any accompanying words. He played them one by one, and after each note the door answered it loud and shrill. After the last one had sounded and faded, the great door swung open silently.
Once through this one, the gate just as silently closed. The road went up with the usual slope on a closer tour. There were a few skeletons lying on the road in absurd positions. After the third round, they were in front of a golden door. Under the arch of stone was another writing:
"Gate of the Heart - Two words open me"
"Toma opened the first, I the second, Kuda the third... This one you have to open, Masu," Ja said.
Masu knocked a few times with the hilt of his sword. Nothing happened. He tried to push, but the leaves did not move. He looked carefully at the door; it was all decorated with carved narrow spirals that made it look like a cloth of precious brocade. Masu tried to push, to blow, he sought what could be the key to open it, he asked Kuda to play his notes again, also in reverse order, but nothing happened.
"I do not know what to do," Masu murmured.
"But I am sure that you are the one to open it, Masu." Ja insisted.
"Yes, I think you're right, but how?"
"Two words open it, it says."
"Two words, yes, but which ones? What can I say to open it? Open, door!?" he exclaimed rather amused.
The great door opened slowly and quietly! Masu looked at his friends even more surprised than them.
They crossed it and this door also closed behind them. They made the last round, here they did not see any skeleton along the path, and finally they found themselves in front of the castle, and the door that gave access to it. It was made of a single large sheet of glass through which they could see the large hall inside.
"And this one? How can we open it?" Masu asked more to himself than to his friends.
Ja shook his head and noted: "There is nothing written above this one..."
Toma tried to push, but the door did not budge. Masu approached it and laid his hand on the smooth surface.
Within the crystal, around his hand, a blue light was flashing and the door opened, sliding sideways and disappearing into the wall.
They all entered in a row behind Masu. Their footsteps echoed in the great circular hall, causing a cascade of soft echoes. Above them there was a series of windows closed with thin slabs of alabaster, so that the sunlight flooded the room with a very soft and warm light. There was not a single speck of dust in the room. They looked around in awe. Around were a hundred twenty-eight columns, shaped as tall men that for their clothing represented the various social classes of the eight territories.
At the bottom, opposite the entrance gate, there was a double helix staircase that led to the upper floors. To the right and left there were sixteen doors.
"Which way shall we go?" Ja asked in a whisper.
Nevertheless, thousands of echoes repeated: "Shallwego... allwego... wego... go..."
"Let's go upstairs," Kuda said.
"Upstairs... stairs... airs... irs..."
Going up they found rooms decorated in different ways and with great elegance, and it seemed that everything was intact, as if those who had lived in the castle had just departed, although in reality it was abandoned by five hundred and twelve years.
They climbed and climbed, and realized that the number of rooms occupying each floor was less, as the needle was slowly narrowing.
Finally, not far from the tip, they found themselves in a room with eight windows, each framed by two slender columns. The door from which they entered was at the opposite side of a seat in white marble. There were four windows on the right and four on the left. In the three spaces that divided the four windows on each side, there were two niches with a white marble table in between. On the right hand table was placed an octagonal crown, with eight inverted trapezoids in the middle of each side, each a different color: the seven colors of the seven territories and one white for the central area.
On the left hand table lay an octagonal rod with in its center a black sphere: the half protruding from one side of the ball was white, the other had the eight colors of the territories.
In the first of the four niches was hanging a very elaborate cloak, vertically divided in eight colors; it was a rich brocade dress in the style worn by the Lords. In the next niche was an armor with a sword of pure platinum, and a robe and tunic of fine white almost transparent linen in the style worn by craftsmen. Then there was a tunic with breeches of the same transparent white fabric in the style worn by producers. In the last niche were a mantle of black veil, tailored in the style worn by merchants, and a black veil kilt in the style of the slaves' clothing. They were the regalia.
Behind the back of the marble seat was a mirror. Toma looked into it and, to his amazement, he could see the throne room, but it was empty. He moved to see his own face, but he could not see himself. Ja also went to look in the mirror, but did not see himself or the others but only the empty room.
Then, hearing the astonished comments of his friends, Masu went to look in the mirror and...
"What are you saying? I can see myself!" he exclaimed rather surprised. "And I see you too."
Meanwhile Ja had drawn near to the crown and was holding out his hand to touch it. A cry of Toma stopped him just before doing that.
"No, do not dare to touch it! Only the Lord of Lords can touch the regalia. Anyone else touching them would die instantly!"
Ja drew back, somewhat scared: "Really?" he asked in a whisper.
"Yes, it is so," Kuda, who was still standing by the door, confirmed. "And you... Masu, you saw yourself in the mirror, you say?"
Kuda's voice was excited, almost trembling.
"Masu," Kuda murmured, kneeling down, "You are the Taota, the new Taota! My Lord, the Lord of Lords!"
"Oh, come on!" the handsome warrior said, looking at him, sullen and surprised.
"Yes... Assume the crown, wear the mantle, and sit on your throne, my Lord." Kuda said bowing his face, from which tears of emotion slowly began to fall.
"The crown? I?" Masu asked, more and more astonished.
"No, do not touch it!" Toma said, worried. "If Kuda is wrong... if he's not right... you would die."
Masu looked at Kuda, then at his other friends, and said with a low and firm voice: "If Kuda says that I can touch it... He loves me, he would never say anything of which he is not certain, he would never put my life at risk..."
He approached the table and stretched his hands toward the crown.
Again Toma murmured: "Don't do it... Masu, don't..."
Masu did not listen to him and took the crown firmly in his hands. He lifted it and slowly put it on his head.
At that moment a tremendous flash of lightning came from the outside, the sky suddenly darkened and a storm descended on the Needle Castle. Illuminated by the lightning, Toma saw that Masu was standing unharmed; the crown on his head seemed to glow.
Then he knelt down and murmured: "My Lord, my Lord!"
Ja almost fell to the ground, trembling and moaning in turn: "The Taota! You are the Taota!"
Masu went to the niche with the mantle and, after taking off his own, put it on his shoulders. It was very wide, but just right for his height. It wrapped him completely while falling in soft folds. He approached the table where was the scepter and took it in his hand. Then he went up the eight white marble steps of the throne and sat on it.
Outside, the sky was black and the storm was raging violently. Rivers of water were coming down from the black clouds, lashing the walls of the castle and pouring on the desert.
Masu, still incredulous, said: "Stand up, my friends..."
No one moved.
With a stronger voice, Masu ordered: "Stand up! None of the three of you will ever kneel down before me. I command you!"
The three stood up and advanced toward the throne, Kuda between his two friends. Two bolts of lightning, that seemed to come from the two windows flanking the throne, joined into a single flash of purple light, and the bottom of Kuda's harp began to emit smoke. Kuda ran his hands over it and smiled.
"Here it is, the last stanza. The Epic is now complete... This is why I did not have to find a disciple; I am the last of the singers..."
The lightning left the harp and seemed to wrap around Kuda's body, illuminating his face. Then it fell apart, crackling in the air.
"The last of the blind bards... Now I can finally see your face with my own eyes, my Taota!" he said in a whisper. New tears trickled from his beautiful blue eyes.
Masu descended from his throne, walked toward his beloved, smiling, and took him in his arms. With a warm low voice he said: "I love you, Kuda..."
"Yes, my Taota, and I love you too. You already were my Taota, even before we knew it... You are so beautiful, but I already knew that too."
During the first sixteen days they went around visiting the whole castle. On the floors above the grand throne hall was the lodging of the Taota and his family, where the four of them settled. On the top floor, under the sharp spire, there was a lookout from which could be seen a panoramic view of the entire continent.
On the lower floors were the still empty quarters for all the court officials and for the warriors of the Taota's personal guard.
Outside the castle it rained in torrents for sixteen nights. The rivers of water that fell from the sky washed away the sand, filled the ring around the castle and freed the strip of sand, revealing a long bridge of white marble.
However, during the day the sun was shining and some green began to show in the vast plain, which gradually returned to life. Also the first trees began to grow here and there. All of nature was awakening again in Chuma-Hirosawa, after five hundred and twelve long years.
Finally the Taota Masu-Yari decided he had to visit all the capitals of the seven territories across the continent to make them resume the normal life. On the lookout there was also the altar of the gods, where Masu celebrated the rite of worship, invoking the protection of the Kaoka, the God of Gods. Then, in the clothes and with the insignia of his rank, he celebrated the rite of fusion with Kuda, making him in all respects his spouse.
After the ceremony Toma came up to him.
"Masu... Taota Masu-Yari..."
"You can go on calling me Masu, you know..."
"Yes... Now that you are the Lord of Lords, the Lord of everyone and everything, I have a request for you."
"Tell me, my friend."
"I would like you to celebrate the union and the fusion between me and my Ja."
"A Lord can not unite with a slave... It's the law," Masu replied with a little smile.
"Well, but you can change the law. Only you can..."
"But I want you to marry a Lord, your peer. So I can not allow you to unite with a slave."
"Well, but Masu, for the friendship that binds us…" Toma insisted in a sorrowful tone.
"The Taota has one only word. I said and I repeat that I do not want a Lord to marry a slave."
"Then make me a slave!" Toma said, irritated.
"I will never do that. It will not solve your problem. I decided you must marry a Lord."
Now Toma was really angry. "I owe you respect and obedience, Taota. And I will obey, but then do not call me your friend any more!"
"Toma, Toma... I have decided that you will marry a Lord and so it will be. In fact," he said to Kuda, who was sitting at his feet, "Kuda, let in the Tu that I've decided Toma will marry."
"What, you've decided to make me marry a Tu, without even asking my opinion? I believed to know you; how wrong I was! But I am a free man! I am free, Taota, you cannot force me," Toma shouted, quivering with indignation and outrage.
"But it will make you the Shiti of Chuma, second only to me... The most important Shiti of the whole continent."
"You can save yourself this magnanimity, if you don't give me the only thing I really want!" Toma answered him, proud and trembling.
In that moment Kuda entered the room and announced: "The Tu Jami-Yarire is asking to be granted audience, my Taota."
"Let him in!" Masu said with a little smile. Then he said to Toma: "Here's the Tu I decided you will marry with the double rite of union and fusion, that today I will celebrate in person."
"I will never be the Shiti of Chuma. I will never accept to join with…" Toma began to say, but he turned to the door and gasped.
In the doorway of the throne room Ja appeared, dressed in the white and gold brocade robes of a Tu, a white silk mantle flowing behind him. There was a shy and happy smile on his beautiful lips, and a bright light shining in his brown eyes.
"So, my impulsive and good Toma... What you were telling me that you would never accept?" Masu asked him in a gentle and slightly ironic tone.
"Him... You have elevated my Ja," Toma stuttered, confused.
"I told you that you would not have to marry a slave, isn't it? I am the Lord of Lords, the Taota, and is in my power to do what I did. So Toma, my proud and free man, you still want to object to my orders? You still refuse to marry this Tu and to become the Shiti of Chuma?"
Toma now almost stammered: "Forgive me... forgive me my Taota..."
"I'm not your friend Masu any more?" the Taota asked in a mild voice.
"Oh yes, and much more! Oh Masu!"
"You thought you knew me and I disappointed you," Masu laid it on thicker, but with gentle irony.
"I was stupid and reckless, forgive me..."
"Come, Tu Jami-Yarire, and tell me - is this the man to whom you want to be united forever?"
Ja advanced with a light pace, took Toma's hand and said, loud and clear: "If the Shiti of Chuma wants to do me this honor and give me this joy, I want it!"
"Forgive me Masu," Toma stuttered again.
"I forgive, I forgive you. For your love is so great that you asked me to make you a slave, in order to join with your Ja, and all is forgiven for those who love. Well, we will celebrate your wedding, the double rite of union and fusion, and then we'll leave. A new, long journey is ahead of us."
Masu had wrapped the crown in four layers of cloth: gauze, silk, velvet and brocade, so that his family could carry it without the risk of touching. He placed the regalia in their luggage, then the four friends left the castle for the first time in sixteen days.
The doors and gates opened when they approached and closed behind them. Along the spiral road the heavy rains had taken away the skeletons, and everything glowed under the brilliant sky that now was over the territory of Chuma-Hirose, returned to life.
The four friends were wearing their old clothes, so that for the passers-by they were nothing but a noble, a warrior, a poet and a slave. After crossing the bridge, the path was now a well-paved road. They reached a crossroads where four roads lead south, east, north and west. Masu resolutely turned into the one that led to the south.
They reached the place where the great battle between dragons and harpies was fought. Their bones, already enmeshed in flowering ranks of weeds, were rapidly disappearing from view. They reached the high wall of rock they had descended so dangerously - there was no more wind, therefore they climbed cautiously, but without running a real danger, walking the narrow and twisting hairpin bends to the top. They crossed the gorge and found themselves in the wide plain of Mashi-Hikureeve'.
They crossed it to just outside the capital, Hikureeve'-Washi, with its hundred towers. They stopped at an inn and took a room, where all four dressed in the sumptuous court robes, only the crown still wrapped in the fourfold cloth, in the hands of Toma.
When they came out of their room, an "oh!" of wonder rose from the throats of the patrons of the inn. Among them was a Tu of Hikureeve' who was going back to the capital. He looked at Masu.
"Forgive me, most noble Lord... But your clothes... Can you be our new Taota?"
"So it is," Masu said.
The Tu promptly knelt down: "Welcome back among us Lord of Lords. Your humble servant Chez'a-Rinocha is at your service..."
"Get up, Chez'a, your quick submission amazes me. What, besides my clothes, makes you believe that I am the Taota?"
"Since my childhood I have always listened carefully to the songs of the Epic - I know all of them almost by heart... So I felt that the day of your return was approaching. Moreover, my castle rises over the mountains at the border with Chuma and I saw the miracle of its rebirth, so... All of Z'uyoote, all the hearts of men are waiting for your return. This continent needs your wisdom and justice. Now we are at war with the territory of Machi-Sanisu' and also the territory of Mafu-Ooreeve seems it would declare war on us... Only you can prevent it, and make sure that we all live in peace."
"Stand up, Chez'a," Masu repeated. "Go to town, meet your Shiti, and warn him that the Taota is coming to visit him."
"I will run Taota! Blessed be the Kaoka for having turned his gaze back on us. I will run!"
The Lord literally ran away. Masu and his companions left the inn, followed by a swarm of people at a respectful distance. When they reached the gates of Hikureeve'-Washi, they found a group of warriors waiting there. Seeing the imposing figure advance in his the mantle of eight colors, the scepter in hand, the platinum sword hanging at his back, they broke into two wings, and knelt.
"Taota! The Tu Chez'a has foretold your arrival. Allow us to escort you and your people up to the castle of our Shiti..."
"Granted," Masu said briefly.
They crossed the city, flanked by the warriors, between two wings of a silent crowd. Once at the door of Zashi-Too-o' there was the Shiti with his family, waiting for him. Masu stopped in front of them, while the Shiti was inspecting him from head to toe.
With an unsteady voice he asked: "So... you would be the new Taota..."
"I am," Masu said.
"A cloak is not enough to make you the Lord of Lords. What proof can you give me? Prove it, and I will kneel before you."
"Do not challenge his power, Shiti... My eyes have seen miracles happen in the territory of Chuma. What once was desert and abomination, death and pain, is now returning to be a garden of wonders," Tu Chez'a said, who was at his side.
"You are gullible, Chez'a. A Shiti cannot believe everything and everyone. So, then?" he asked Masu again.
Kuda then took his harp, advanced and began to sing the prophecies of the Epic, making them see that Masu really was the new Taota. The crowd in the square emphasized each stanza of the prophecies with a softly murmured "That's him, it's really him," and gradually knelt down.
But the Lady Shiti said: "My husband, an accomplished singer, a skilled tailor, and a skilled actor can easily mislead the common people..."
The Lord Shiti, however, was still uncertain. "If you're really the Taota, where is your crown? Even a skilled artisan would not know how to imitate it in all its beauty... Nor its changing colors..."
"It is he, Great Lord, kneel," Chez'a almost begged him.
Masu made a brief gesture. Ja advanced with the bundle of the crown, and moved away the flaps. Masu took the crown and placed it on his head. The eight colored plates began to shine, first white, then purple as the flag of Hikureeve's Shiti. Finally the Shiti knelt down, recognizing in Masu the Taota.
"Your unbelief condemns you but your delayed acceptance saves you. Arise, Tu. I have decided that from now on the Tu Chez'a-Rinocha is the new Shiti of this land, to reward his ready obedience. I also decree that from now on, all slaves of this land are free men, and their class will be composed of four levels as any other, and that you cease to call them slaves, but they will be called workers, and be paid for their work.
"I also decree that, who wants to come and live in Chuma, will go at the crossroads of the four directions, on the sixteenth day of the month of the purple crescent, to become a citizen of Chuma. Producers with their seeds, equipment and animals, craftsmen their tools and materials, workers with their hands."
The new Shiti, Chez'a, then asked: "And if a lord, or a warrior, or a merchant wanted to come and live in Chuma, what should he do, Taota?"
"Lords and warriors must first ask permission from you, and you will let them go only if they belong to the lowest level, unmarried young people of the rank of Teha and Seha. As for the merchants, they can come and go freely, but no one can settle in Chuma before having traded for at least eight years in an honest and trustworthy way."
"This will be done, Taota," the new Shiti said. He then asked: "May I have the honor of having you as my guest and to hold celebrations for your return, Taota?"
"So be it. I will stay at your house with my three companions for eight days, then I'll resume my way."
Chez'a had immediately set up the best rooms for his guests, and announced eight days of celebration throughout the territory. He sent messengers to all the castles to bring the orders of the Taota and that all slaves were to be freed. In addition, the Taota made sure that the altar of the gods was restored, and he performed the rites. He delegated the new Shiti to perform them in his stead, including the rites of the fusion. He also gave the order that people of different social classes had access to the ritual too, and that the spouse of lower level or class would be elevated to the level of the other spouse. Finally he ordered that every person who had had reached the top level of his class, could request to be accepted at the bottom level of the next class.
So, after eight days had elapsed, Masu and his friends resumed their way to the neighboring territory of Mafu-Ooreeve', escorted by two rows of warriors and accompanied by the Shiti Chez'a-Rinocha.
Along the way, villages, towns and cities were decked to the nines and all the people crowded along the streets to see and greet the new Taota.
When Masu arrived at the border between Hikureeve' and Ooreeve', he found that the warriors of the two territories were preparing for battle on both sides of the border. As Chez'a had said, war had not yet broken out, but the two sides were ready to unleash it.
When Masu and his friends stopped at the border, from the other side the Shiti of Ooreeve' made his way to meet them, kneeling in front of Masu.
"Blessed be the new Taota, the envoy of Kaoka! Welcome to the land entrusted to me," the Shiti said aloud, and all his men knelt behind him.
"Arise, Shiti Tote-Retos'a!" Masu said.
The Shiti took off his crown with the single inverted trapezium of indigo color, symbol of his power, and handed it to Masu: "Thine be the power. Take this crown and give it to whoever is worthy."
Masu took it, and said: "Receive me in your castle, I'll stay with you for eight days. Before I go, I will decide who is worthy to wear this crown. But tell me first, why are your soldiers deployed to deal with the warriors of your neighbor?"
"Great Taota, Lord of Lords, from time to time an ancient feud resurfaces between our two regions. A dispute that our fathers and the fathers of our fathers began. The border is defined by the mountain peaks that rise to the right and left, and the river that has its source in my lands and flows in the lands of my neighbor. But the river often changes its course, here in the plain and so problems arise on the borders, because the town you see behind me, is at times in my territory, and at times in the neighbor's..."
"Well, I do not want that under my leadership there are wars here on Z'uyoote. Therefore I order that the city and its surrounding area bounded by the riverbed, be it the most ancient or the newest, is a free city, which will not have allegiance to either of the two neighboring Shiti, but only to me. This I command and this I want."
"So be it done," the two Shiti said as one.
That problem solved, Masu said goodbye to Chez'a. Escorted by the Shiti of Ooreeve' and his warriors, he went to the capital to be housed in the Castle of Zafu-Kaida. Here he asked to have again the room where he had first made love to Kuda.
Returning to the room's verandah, the two hugged.
"See, my love, this is the view that your eyes were not able to see and which I tried to describe..."
"Yes, it is really beautiful. But now bring me back inside and get me again on the same bed on which I have given you my virginity..."
They undressed each other and lay on the bed in each other's arms.
"So naked, there is neither Taota nor bard, as on that first day," Masu whispered, kissing him.
"Yes, because for two lovers united by true love, the other is more than a Taota and more than a singer," Kuda whispered. "Take me, love..."
Masu entered into him and took him quietly, long, passionate and tender. They made love forgetting everything else.
The following days Masu revised with the Shiti the condition of the area, gave him orders for the reorganization of the social classes, and ordered those willing to live in Chuma to go during the month of the indigo crescent. With the altar rededicated to the gods, he invested the Shiti with powers to celebrate the rites. Before leaving. he gave him back his crown.
"You are truly worthy of it, my noble Shiti. The Kaoka's blessing be upon you and the territory entrusted to you."
"Can I put a white border at the top of the flag of this territory, as a visible sign of my fidelity, Taota?" the Shiti asked.
"So be it," Masu granted him.
They left Ooreeve'-Wafu and went to the last port of the territory, where the Shiti already had ordered to prepare a ship with the white banners of the Taota. The four friends boarded and gave orders to sail towards Tuwani'su'-Waya, the capital of the territory of the thumb.