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- Chapter 36: Banquet at North Sea -


  "Black Fat" which flowed out of "Oil-Eater Giant Rock" continued flowing for more than a hundred miles without stopping for days, then drifted on the coast from Alaska Bay to the peninsula.
  A lot of whales entering "Foison Sea" as it is just the harvest time for "Front Side Clan", this news became widely known to the whales living in the North Pacific Ocean. Some whales gathered as curious onlookers for a glimpse of "Black Fat Sea", other whales trying to confirm the safety of the acquaintance, they moved around busily. Nonetheless, it can not afford to rest baleen at a once a year busy season, many whales crowded besiege the usable "Dining Area" which is not contaminated with the filth of "Giant Rock" yet, and such a place was also used for information exchange.
  Claire and the three companions, who lost sight of Joey again by one step after the unexpected disturbance, used this opportunity to ask about the location of Joey and the killer whales. They gathered information from their own races belonging to "Front Side", and from time to time they met at the "Dining Area" near the island at the tip of the Alaska Peninsula and taught each other's situation.
  For several days, Claire had dreams of Joey's dead body lying in black like that sea bird and sea otter, and woke up suffering from the nightmare. As expected she could not be bothered to get in to the dead waters, but she sometimes could not help swimming around and calling her son's name. This was a courageous task, but she also checked whether there was a dead body of a whale launched on the shore. Fortunately, she have not heard about the false reports that a minke whale calf has stranded.
  Cherokee who takes to everybody was getting along well with the group of the open-minded humpback whale of "Front Side" soon. Humpback whales from the three "Large District" in the North Pacific that differ from "Embrace Sea"; off the coast of Mexico, Hawaii, Ryukyu - Bonin, gather to "Foison Sea". Young humpback whales listened in suspense to the quest of adventures of "Great Poet" coming all the way from "Back Side". As Cherokee it seems to be good without cutting the stock of the talk for the time being, and the listener also gladly listened to the unusual story of the race living on the back side of the world. However, one thing regret for Cherokee was that he thought that he must be the first "Furless Seal Watcher" among the Humpback Whale race, but "Watching" was already started even in the three "Embrace Sea".
  Douglas's race is rare guests in "Dining Area", but he was able to contact some friends of "Front Side". One of them was in the same business, so he told about the aspect of oil dripping incidents of "Giant Floating Rock", exchanged the collected historical information and renew old friendship.
  Jansen seemed to have deal with other males at once. In the cachalot whale race female and child do not come to "Foison Sea", so that he can fight with the opponent without reserve. He came to a meeting place full of scratches every day.
  Thus while the three whales were doing with each other "Front Side" colleagues (Jansen is somewhat different), only Claire could not fully dissolve in the same race. Minke whales at "Front Side" welcomed Claire as a visitor from "Back Side" warmly and kind to her for everything. But whenever Claire sees a parent and child in them, her chest hurts. Whale children born in the winter has already finished weaning now, but there were some babies who still depends on mother beside. It was just the age Joey had disappeared.
  Does my son have a meal properly? Could he make friends? Oh, if he is alive, I wish to see you again even at a glance! Even though the childbearing has not been completed yet...
  When she was looking at a baby whale who fawn on mother and sometimes was scolded while having a distance, she absolutely thought of her son and became painful.

  Since they are coming to "Foison Sea" so far, the four whales spent the meal time when they have a break in searching of Joey. However, only Claire did not go easy to eat for various reasons. Of course, the biggest reason was that her head was full of Joey and so she could not feel like eating. Because she fell into "Black Fat", sometimes her mouth and stomach are not very well. But there were basic obstacles in addition to this. For Claire who came from "Back Side" where the season is deviated by half a year, originally it should be the "Season of Childcare" of fasting period rather than "Season of Appetite" now. She had cut meals in "Fertile Sea" halfway and had a long trip to waste energy considerably, but physiologically she did not have any appetite.
  Another problem is the difference in menu offering with "Front Side" minke whale. She rarely ate baits other than the Antarctic krill, and in fact it was enough to feed the body. Small crustaceans such as krill and copepods are caught here, but unlike "Fertile Sea" there is not much quantity. So minke whales of "Front Side clan" are feeding small fish living on various surface layers such as herring, capelin and Saffron cod, which are more harvested. But Claire had a bit of resistance to eat such a fish.
  Because they have spine and their size are larger, so it seems to be blocked in baleen, she thought.
  Of course, the baleen of minke whale between the clan of "Front Side" and "Back Side" are only different in color slightly and there is little structural difference, so this is just her preconceived view.
  Sometimes she went to see the fishing following Cherokee. He was still young and flexible, and it was not bother to go out fishing with friends of "Front Side".
  The humpback whale race do fantastic fishing using the bubble net. When they find a school of fish to feed, they turn around under it and spirally swirl while pouring bubbles out of the spiracles. Then a cylindrical air curtain is created around the fish, and the fish feared by rising bubbles are forced to concentrate in the center. They swallow in one gulp from the bottom like this fish. A single fishing can be done, but if they do it in groups of about 10 whales, a big net of about 150 feet in diameter can be set up and they can round up the inside fish. This is the same fishing method as the salmon fishing of the "Scale Faction" killer whales, the cooperation of group whales is the key as well. By the way, this fishery uses air bubbles that disappear so quickly that unlike "Ghost" it is also 100% safe in the environment.
  Looking at this fishery from the top is really spectacular. First of all, white bubbles burst into a quiet sea surface and it gradually draws a huge circle in a row. When the circle is completed, in the center of the pond surrounded by the foam net, the fish get flustered and jumps and jumps. A seagull comes and steals the fish that jumped. Unexpectedly breakthrough the surface of the sea, whales opened the large mouth pop out one after another. Humpback whales inflate the lower jaw a lot and swallow their prey. Whales who chewed on a feast while being surrounded it by seemed to have enjoyed life in the food.
"Hey, what do you say to trying yourself, Sister?"
  Cherokee met Claire's gaze when became a spy hop just right after getting swallowed bait and invited her.
"No. I will withhold fish."
"Sister, you have not eaten much recently, don't you? If you don't eat well then you will be troubled later."
"Exactly, Claire. I do not know how this journey will be ahead, but if you can not return to "Fertile Sea" until the next summer of "Back Side", you will be impossible for a decent meal one more year. You better get used to the same meal as your fellows."
  Douglas who was seeing the sights together also urged.
"But..."
  A humpback whale of Cherokee's group advised Claire who is hesitating.
"That's right. It's easy so you can learn quickly. Sudden participation is also a big welcome."
  Cherokee finally pushed Claire's back and brought her into the circle forcefully.
  Before starting fishing, the leader instructs approximate placement to members as a voice map. Once they find a school of fish, the campaign begins with a song of sign. When approaching prey, diving carefully so as not to surprise it from the beginning. At this time when some one leak a bubble for a while, the fish scatter and escape soon. When coming quietly beneath the fish school, all members breathe in exactly step by step at the time.
  To breathe out underwater is need a lot of tricks. Oh my, the shape of my bubble net has crumbled somewhat, Claire thought.
  Now the net was completed. Looking up at the top, she could see that the small black shadows flutter at high speed shielding the flickering light coming from the surface of the water, and the fish trapped in the white walls are going downhill. The leader was going first. When he got to the center position of the curtain of foam, he shook the caudal fin and went straight up. Sounds that the sea surface breaks or sounds of water spilling like waterfalls from both sides of the mouth, also arrived at Claire's ear. Second, third whale kept behind. Even though fish can spill over and escape from the enemy's big jaw, they have to keep trying luck by the number of whales who attack them. Cherokee's turn came.
"Please count ten and follow me after I go. No worries, I was also eating only krill at "Back Side". You can do in the same way."
  He encouraged Claire saying so, he jumped into the prey. Although it is not as much as at the first time of bleaching, Claire has been exciting somehow. The group members of humpback whales are aside to watch over her.
illustration   Count 10. Well, I have no choice but to do this.
  Claire who set at the start position began to rise unexpectedly along the central axis of the white foam cylinder. When she opened the lower jaw, fish caught in denser clumps entered the mouth more and more. At the next moment when she thought that the water surface was close, she was jumping under the sun. The fish danced in the air with a silver belly showing with the splash.
"How is the taste of herring?"
  The leader inquired her when Claire had swallowed the bait.
"It was delicious!"
  There are no taste buds on the tongue of baleen whale and they swallow a bate whole, so they can not taste food in the true sense, but Claire can feel delicious by having fun together with everyone. Somehow it feels as if she become a little child of humpback whale who participated in fishing with adult for the first time. Douglas also narrowed his eyes and watched her eating habits.
  Fishing continue until the density of the fish school decreases appropriately. Claire repeatedly jumped to a feast several times with Cherokee and the fellows, and tasted satiety for the first time in several months.
Finally Cherokee showed off "Fisher's Folk Song" and the party opened.

  In the meantime, the days passed so quickly. Claire occasionally traveled to the Bering Sea or Aleutian Islands, and on the contrary returned to the Canadian coast and searched for Joey's whereabouts, but the finprints that took him away could not be find. Although the influence of "Black Fat" had not yet disappeared, the incident itself became less subject to the topics of whales and gradually became the past news.
  One night, Claire had the dream again, in which something tremendously huge attacks Joey running away. When reminding, the monster looked like the "Oil-Eater Giant Rock" which was flickering in the flame.   Did my dream tell me this? Did Joey really died in that "Black Fat" sea?
  While thinking so, Claire did not feel that the monster that comes appears in her dreams is "Giant Floating Rock", an unknown existence she had never seen before. The vision of a dream is increasingly obvious and true to nature. And it has not come to an end yet. Joey continues to run away and is seeking her help.

  When Cherokee saw Claire depressing, he thought he shall managed to cheer her up somehow. Then, he came up with an idea.
"Hey, Sister. Do you try singing?"
"What? You had also made me do bleaching and fishing with the bubble net, and do you try to make me imitation of "Vocalist" this time? If I do such a thing, I will really be a humpback, not a minke. How much I was asked, I will not be your wife."
"No! No! You jump to conclusions. Old male Douglas and Master Jansen will do together."
"?"
  Cherokee 's master plan was to chorus with the four whales. It is the best medicine to sing a song and to distract herself in such a case. He told Douglas and Janssen that it is for Claire and make them to accept to participate in the chorus. Douglas accepted pleasantly, but Jansen reluctantly.
  For Cherokee, it was the primary objective to make Clare cheerful, but if it succeeded, he himself will also rise in public esteem as "Vocalist". After all, the quartet of the four races mixed is the first attempt in the world. Cherokee thought that it will be surely succeed as the companions of journey who have overcome the danger together. It was the intention of Cherokee to open a concert at "Foison Sea" when it got better practicing for a few days.
"It is better to have a female part after all as doing the chorus. Are you alto, soprano, or mezzo-soprano?"
  Although Claire was not initially very enthusiastic, she also did not dislike music, so she began practicing songs as invited by Cherokee. In the meantime, her feelings soften little by little. There was a whale whose occupation is "Song Teacher" also in her "District", and Cherokee also preached the same thing as that "Teacher". As expected, he was not self-naming "vocalist" for nothing.
"Make your mind empty and feel like yourself are singing. Yes, it's the same way as bleaching, Sister."
  When she was singing like that indefinitely, she can certainly forget the slaughter killer whales and "Floating Rock" for just a moment. So Claire started to focus on singing practice from myself.
  A week later, Cherokee thought of doing a preliminary exercise before the actual. He chose the shallow water of an island shadow suitable for singing and gather some "Front Side" humpback whales he became familiar with.
"Well then, we will deliver 'Claire and Her Friends' chorus to everyone. The programme is 'Ballad of a Traveler'!"
  The four whales took their position side by side. He really wanted the name of the choir to be "Cherokee and His Fellows", but he decided to save Claire's face. Candidates for the song also had a favorite melody that praised Mother and Child's love, but he decided on this because it is not easy to make her remind Joey. This is a song made by Mayra, "Minstrel" of beluga whose name is not so popular in the world but who wrote a number of poems that resonates with listeners mysteriously.
The beluga race, called "the canary of the sea" as the owner of a beautiful voice, lives mainly along the coasts and estuaries of the Arctic region, hence they are suffering. They are aimed at "Whale-Eater Rock" and are also plagued by changes in river environment and "Floating Rock" traffic. Recently especially "Spirit of Disease" is quietly raging, the incurable disease has been spreading and females who can not give birth have increased, and so it was concern that family line would have fail depending on "District".
  In such a dark era, Mayra swam among families across the northern ice-sea as a wandering "Female Minstrel". And, despite the misfortune that suffered the race and herself, she continued to sow seeds of hope expressing the joy of life.
  Cherokee, who heard transparent Mayra's poetry after coming to "Foison Sea", soon became a big fan of her. Among them, this favorite song sings the world miracle through the sensitivity of the traveler, and it would be perfect for the debut of "Claire and Her Friends".

Ballad of a Traveler

      If you feel intense thirst of freedom, let's go on a trip now.
      The destination is the horizon.
      Luggage is just full of expectation and slight anxiety.
      I don't need anything else.
      Because the deep blue sea is waiting for you.
      When you are ready, let's fluke up.
      Spreading the pectoral fins, go deep into the unknown ocean.

      Did you notice that the color of water changed?
      You are not you until yesterday.
      Gradation of water wall spreading to yonder.
      Shining sparkling dancers like platinum glancing between seaweeds.
      Plankton concerto which melody consists with notes of cell.
      Green flash, an emerald jewel sparkle twilight.

      What do you think while looking at the sunset alone?
      Is that the whale to whom you want to deliver over the wave the scene you see right now?

      I'll travel alone forever.
      The squall of the stars pour from the night sky.
      We'll travel together forever.
      Melody repeated over time.
      If you believe in your dream and continue your journey, you will surely be able to meet your own happiness.

      If you lose sight of yourself, let's go on a trip now.
      The compass bearing is omnidirectional.
      Reliance is your own caudal fin and whimsical wind.
      There is nothing to be afraid of.
      Because the endless ocean call for you.
      When you decide your mind, let's fluke up.
      Lifting the dorsal fin, pass over the current flow.

      Did you notice that the position of the constellation changed?
      You are not you until yesterday.
      The moonlight illusion flickering in the waves.
      Translucent fairies trembling the tentacles with the mystery of the prismatic colors.
      Ancient memoirs talked by black deep-sea fish.
      Ocean fog, different dimension world of all gray invites you.

      What do you think while listening to the faint sound of the wave hitting the shore alone?
      Is that your hometown where you will definitely come back someday with a lot of memories?

      I'll travel alone forever.
      Horizontal line melts in the sea of stars.
      We'll travel together forever.
      Melody flowing over the galaxy.
      If you believe in your dream and continue your journey, you will surely be able to meet the oneness of luminosity.

  Cherokee was responsible for the tenor of the main melody of the chorus, Douglas was responsible for the bass, and Jansen takes the rhythm with click sound as percussion. Claire took female part of the back chorus. As Cherokee anticipates, the four whales' chorus perfectly in tune with each other like the same pod, and the song went smoothly to the middle of the second verse.
  Oh, I want to tell this song to my son. Or, how nice it would be if I could sing with him together...
  Claire ceased to vocalize at that place.
"Oh boy. What happened? Did you make a mistake in lyrics?"
"I can't sing... I can't sing without my son..."
  Then she started tears. The three companions also became awkward, and the chorus ended with that.
"I'm finished. Song means singing alone by all means."
  When saying so, Jansen has dived away from the group.
"Uh-oh, after all of that would be pretty good."
  Cherokee said regretfully.
"I'm sorry..."
  Claire apologized while crying.

  Claire after that became more reticent, and had fewer times to face with her companions. A month passed and the season began swimming earlier toward autumn.
  Claire occasionally began to think. I wonder if I shall give up about Joey yet. In the sea of "Back Side" Lily is waiting for her mother's return. Since I came all the way to the end of the north and I have done all I can do, so Rex will surely forgive me. Even so far I could not have raised all my children. I wonder if it is better for the race and for myself to make a new child...
  I wish if the dream would give more hints. Or, just as before, if I could resume the channel to communicate mentally between mother and child. Has the ability to receive telepathy disappear because I am not strongly reminded of my son as mother? Or maybe has the fact that my own arbitrary mindset happened to be hit by chance?
"At least, there is no evidence that Joey suffers misfortune, so don't be discouraged."
  Cherokee said.
  However, there is no evidence that Joey lives safely. As time goes by, the possibility becomes less.
  What should I do? The only answer prepared soon for the question that give it up for all has been put on hold forever. Claire did not feel like doing it somehow. While thinking that it should not be as it is, she could not get out of the state dangling in the air.

  One day, Claire visited Douglas.
"Hey, Douglas. What do you think I should do in the future?"
  Douglas had been looking at the horizon while thinking and then answered her with a quiet tone.
"The answer is to relax and leave yourself to water."
"Does that mean not do anything?"
"Yes. I do not think of anything else you can do now."
"The time has stopped on me."
  Clair said staring at the horizon.
"I wonder if it will continue to stop forever as it is?"
"Everyone has such a time. But the world is always in motion. And it is changing. That is why the time may stop in some places. Water is sometimes stagnant at one point and moment. However, all of sea water never stops flowing. There are times that are periodically repeated like tidal flowing and seasonal change, and times that is change to come abruptly like eruption and tsunami. The pattern of history consists of the combination of such orderly rhythm and unexpected events, Claire. Before I said that we each whales are making history, but unfortunately there are the other elements under the situation about which nothing can be done. It was the "Floating Rock" for the blue whale race and the upcoming accident of the "Oil-Eater Giant Rock" for you. At such times, we are surprised and feel impatient and resentment against the time as we expected. What will be, will be and what will not be, will not be. It will move when it moves. It will not move when it not move. So, if you feel that time has stopped now, you may entrust everything to water, wave, wind and clouds. Then, the fins of the clock will surely start to move. Something will change. You may change yourself. It can not be stopped forever. I apologize that I can not answer enough to ease your dissatisfaction."
  Claire looked down and whispered.
"I'm sorry. I have not been able to follow your expectations."
"I do not mean to say that no one is a super heroine that will change history, ho! ho! But I do not think that all of the matter was over already at this time. In any case, history never ends even if I and you would dies, the races would perish. Until Meta-Ceti gets into a long sleep again."
  The two whale stopped talking and turned again to the chaotic boundary between the sea and the sky.

  Several days later, Claire met with Janssen for the first time in a long while.
"Howdy, Sister. You look gloomy, what's wrong?"
  Even though Janssen distorted the edge of the mouth grinning like usual and cracked a joke, Claire did not reply with her gaze dropped.
"Have you stopped looking for Joey yet?"
  This was the first time since Jansen came to "Foison Sea" that he talk about Joey from himself. Claire directed the sorrowful eyes to him, but she turned down again.
"Well, am I already sacked?"
"It might be so..."
  At last, Claire muttered with a low voice.
"That's a pity. I'm honest disappointed in you."
  Jansen said with a serious look. Claire's heart aches a bit for hearing his talk.
"I thought you were a female having spirit. Though it's no use expecting anything to foreign female."
"I don't know what to do!"
  She appealed with the expression as she was saying.
"Did you go to Old male of blue whale?"
  Claire nodded.
"What did he said?"
"He said; stay still and do nothing, so that time will move by itself."
"Hmm... I will tell you another way. Though it is almost the same as Old male's. To move."
"What?"
  Claire looked up at Jansen and asked.
"Move and move all day. As you don't have time to think about why you move. You can do anything. Sing, shout, bleach or blow away. A fight is nice. If you were a male, this one could made you refresh exceedingly. The point is that you don't have to give embarrassment to yourself. It's OK to stay still, but which one suits depends on one's personality. I guess you are better to move. The result is the same either way. Something will start moving around you as well. It moves selfishly."
  Claire was still not able to understand what he was saying.
"Well, if you absolutely will give up, I will say nothing. That's what you decide. But don't regret what you decided later. Because you have come so far, it is the same thing to do anything else. It means that it is the same even if you fight it out thoroughly, or to throw it away for all. Do you understand?"
  Clare looked stupefied and stared at the big profile of cachalot male. Jansen had a smile more graceful than usual (though it was still grinning), he blew once and went down to the depths.

  It took only a month to finish the season of reaping in the Northern Hemisphere. On that day Cherokee, Douglas and Jansen suddenly got Claire's call.
"I've decided."
  She said to the three whales in a bright voice not heard for a while. It seemed that she forcibly pretend cheerfulness.
"I will go search for Joey. But please keep on eating."
"Come again!? Do you say you keep searching alone!? What on ocean is it? That's too reckless! What's your complaint with us even though we came along with you so much?"
  Cherokee was surprised and talked volubly spreading the long pectoral fin. Claire shook her head and quietly answered.
"This is a problem of me alone in the first place. I myself have to do it at my own risk. As there are no concrete clues that teach Joey's place, I will have to rely on my intuition everything from now on. I can not involve you any more. I am indebted to you too enough. Well, it is a bit disappointing that I can not hear Cherokee's chat, Douglas's advice and the continuation of Jansen's talking of 'Moby Dick'."
  Here she was at a loss for words and winced, but she lifted her face again and forced out the words.
"Everyone, thank you for everything. I was saved a lot by having you come with me. How I was encouraged..."
  Claire gazed at stupefied three whales one by one in order like as searing images into her memory and flash a fullest smile.
"Thank you very much... I surely will not forget you..."
  Without being able to tell the end, Claire swung and reversed the caudal fin, and swam away at full speed leaving her companions, aiming straight west.


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