The peace between Tiki-Free and her far sister isle, Plutonga, was a tenuous one. For years Plutongan marauders had canoed to the site of the abandoned bridge between Tiki-Free and her peninsular colony Tiki-Bagombo to mine the swollen eyesore of her valuable minerals, timber, and, worse, according to the Tikis’ recently elected sachem, the magic nested in its bamboo suspension. The Plutongans had no magic of their own, by his account, and pleased themselves to ransack the unfinished bridge of its truncated wonder.

No one had ever seen a Plutongan at work dismantling the bridge. They had heard their canoes at night, sure enough, and it was also believed – or rather, propagated – that they could see in the dark and ate disbelievers. At sundown, Tikis reluctant to believe this were regularly pitched off the gap in the bridge to feed the expected Plutongans.

A war party was assembled. The peace between their nations was as good as violated. The sachem and his war chiefs set off for Plutonga in twenty longboats, leaving in the predawn light to the fanfare of the faithful.

They did not return. The people of Tiki-Bagombo and Tiki-Free established an interim government after the first month; a nascent bureaucracy that would determine suitable causes for future military interventions that could be collapsed with minimal fuss when the sachem returned (its members were composed of former bridge laborers that wanted only something to pass the time); a commission to oversee unauthorized bridge deconstruction; an independent board of magic shenanigans with executive power to appoint marauder investigators, whose sole occupation would be to discern the times and places of Plutongan bridge mischief; and, after the third month, an exploratory committee dedicated to converting unused bridge sections to public use. After the fifth month, portions of the bridge were being used in such varied capacities as schoolhouses, fishing depots, recreational hotspots and astronomical laboratories.

After six months, the board of magic shenanigans published its findings on the pigskin telegram, that no Plutongans had been found in or near the bridge area between the hours of sundown and sunup. The greatest threat to the bridge was decided to be a flock of nocturnal seabirds that nested in the abutments. The bridge deconstruction commission corroborated this, with the addendum that the birds did cause a racket during their nesting phase and carried off bits of the bridge to their floating rookeries, located mainly along the gap but well away from the ferry service routes. It was the combined conclusion of both bodies that the damage to the bridge was minimal and, aside from the creation of an avian sanitation committee, no further action need be taken at this time.

After several more months without word from the sachem and his war party, it was the unanimous decision of the combined councils that an accord be reached with the Plutongans in absentia. They sent a messenger gull with a copy of the accord to be signed by their highest authorities. For added certainty, they sent copies and gulls to the four corners of the ocean. It was widely hoped that the Plutongans would find the terms fair and just, and also that they could read them. The Plutongans’ language was a mystery to the Tikis, as were their coordinates. None of the citizens of Tiki-Free or Tiki-Bagombo could recall ever meeting a Plutongan before.

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