Adventurers were arriving in droves and jostling their way through the door of the tavern. And the chalkboard sign at the door, which cheerfully announced "Saint Potrick specials: help us empty our kegs!", wasn't the only reason. Normally, entry to the Forbidden Inn was restricted to a small, select group of privileged individuals, as implied by its name. Except for this one very special day. To celebrate the anniversary of Pandawa's coming, Grandapan and the Daimya had mutually agreed to give everyone a chance to pass through the doors of this sacred temple built to honor the goddess.

In the line outside, Jinpop was fidgeting impatiently. The young lad was standing on tiptoes and craning his neck to try and see inside the inn.

"Quit squirming, Jinpop! Everyone's looking at you! It'll be our turn soon enough!"

"But mo-o-om! We've been waiting out here for an hour! I'm bored!"

"Just a little while longer, honey, we're almost there. Here, you can work on your coloring b…"

As soon as his mother let go of his hand, Jinpop darted away, wriggling his way through the other visitors' legs towards the door.

"Jinpop! Jinpop! Ooh, that little...!" his mother fumed.

As he reached the entrance to the inn, the boy froze, staring wide-eyed at the scene inside.

"Whoaaa… Awesome!"

Jinpop was transfixed. The enormous main room loomed before him, surrounded by barrels stacked high like ramparts. A disturbing, almost intimidating silence filled the room. Only a single sound could be heard… the sound of crinkling paper.

"You're awfully small to be in here on your own…"

"I… My mom's on her way, she just… forgot something."

"And what about you? Haven't you forgotten something as well?"

"I… Oh yeah! Hello, Grandapan."

The child awkwardly knelt down, embarrassed.

"Ha ha ha! Now, now, no need for that! I'm not a god, you know!"

The old Pandawa was sitting in the lotus position on a bamboo mat in one corner of the room. Balanced on the staff lying across his knees was a cup, also made of bamboo, filled with a strong-smelling white liquid. And though Jinpop wasn't old enough to drink it yet, he knew exactly what it was.

"My dad drinks the same thing as you sometimes. But not too much. 'Cause if he does, mom gets real mad!"

"Ha ha ha! Your mother is right! This is a wonderful beverage, but we must consume it in moderation… A Pandawa must always keep a clear head, even on Saint Potrick!"

In his hands, wrinkled and spotted with age, Grandapan was holding a square of thin paper. He folded it diagonally to form a triangle.

"What are you making with that paper, Grandapan?"

"An offering… of sorts."

"For the goddess?"

"Not only for her… for all the spirits."

The boy shivered and looked around nervously.

"There's no need to be frightened, you know."

"Mom says that the spirits aren't nice. She says it's 'cause of a mean old Iop with his hair on fire."

"She's not wrong about that. But there are many spirits, and not all of them are malicious."

The Pandawa continued his work. His movements were delicate and precise. One fold too many, or one in the wrong direction, and he'd have to start over.

"Tell me where you're from, my lad."

"I live in Akwadala."

"The land of glimmers… I know it well! I go there sometimes to visit my friend Sakwaba. His bamber beer is extraordinary… So you must know of Akwanokima, no?"

"Yeah, the sad lady."

"That's not all there is to her, but I must admit, she's not the most cheerful of spirits!"

"HUH?! Akwanokima is a spirit?"

"But of course. And yet, she's not mean. Am I wrong?"

"No, that's true…"

Another crease… Not in the paper this time, but on Grandapan's forehead.

"Hmm… that's no good."

The old Pandawa seemed displeased. He crumpled up the sheet and threw it behind him, where it landed on a pile of other little balls of paper. Then he took a new sheet and started his work over from the beginning.

"Not all spirits are the same, my boy. They each have their own personality. That's one of the things I love so much about them. They intrigue me… Fascinate me… Akwanokima, the Water Spirit, moves me with her sincere generosity. And her profound sadness breaks my heart…"

Another crease. Despite his age, the wise old Pandawa's fingers showed no signs of weakness, and didn't tremble in the slightest.

"In Pandala's highest places, up in Aerdala, I am fascinated by Tensojobo's calm and his ability to remain detached from everything."

Yet another crease. Made with a sharper movement this time.

"In the humid forests of Terrdala, I am intimidated by Wapishikami's splendor, and I must admit that I am sometimes jealous of his power over plants."

The work was taking form now. Its oval shape was beginning to emerge.

"Tanu… The spirit who can change forms whenever he wishes. His perfectionism reminds me of myself sometimes…"

With his next fold, a sort of paper shield curved around the oval shape.

"And who wouldn't have a soft spot for Akaitei… A spirit torn between his mischievous, almost childish sense of humor and his sometimes devastating sensitivity

With a few meticulous touches of his fingertips, Grandapan added the final details of his creation. A few paper corners here and there unfolded to form scales.

"You're super-smart about all that spirit stuff!"

"Well, it is my specialty, after all…" replied the old Pandawa with a hint of a wry smile.

"I want to know all about them! Teach me about the spirits, Grandapan! All the spirits in the whooole wide World of Twelve!"

"Ha ha ha! Well, I hope you're ready to spend your whole life learning!"

"Okay, then just tell me about the good ones!"

"Ah… It's not quite that simple, you see. Not everything is all black or all white in the World of Twelve. And even less so in Pandala… I suppose even you aren't entirely good or fundamentally bad either… am I right?"

"Uh, well… I…"

Grandapan closed his eyes. He had suddenly become quite still, like a statue. His paper sculpture slipped from his hands and rolled onto the floor.

"Grandapan? Gr… Grandapan? Are you okay?"

The old Pandawa's eyelids quivered. Then he opened them abruptly, revealing two deathly-pale eyes. Next it was his lips that began to tremble. They opened just enough to let out a jet-black stream of ink that splattered the child with tiny droplets.

"Ssss… Unless I'm quite mistaken, I believe that he's forgotten about us… Ssss… Orukam made the sky rumble… Orukam made his voice heard to the primitive spirits… Ssss… The Wukin and the Wukang. Cycle of creation… Cycle of destruction… And of course… Ssss… The rebirth of Pandala! Such ingratitude… Ssss…"

The whirlwind of ink intensified, forcing Grandapan's sagging jaw a bit further open. Jinpop was awestruck, rooted to the spot. Suddenly, another voice, this one softer and more cheerful than the first. Not as dark… The whirling ink disappeared as Grandapan seemed to breathe it all back in. Instantly, a long coil of paper emerged from his mouth in its place. And then that new voice again…

"Pay no attention to Orukam, Jinpop… He tends to see every glass of bamboo milk as half-empty. Consumed by his need for recognition, he often forgets the beauty of what he has done. Of what the Two have done. No need for thanks. The Two awakened the wind, which fed the water, which fed the wood, which fed the fire… And when ink met paper… Pandala was reborn!"

A quiver. The misty coil rolled up tighter as though it were about to fly up to the sky, then dropped abruptly, inhaled by Grandapan in its turn. The wise elder opened his eyes as though nothing had happened. He picked up his paper sculpture where it had fallen at his feet. Then he placed it in the child's hands as he stood there, still in shock.

"What do you think of my paper Dorigami? Hmm? ...Jinpop? Well, from the look on your face, it seems you like it. It's my gift to you…"

Pandala Island hasn't revealed all of its secrets… Join us next week for the second part of the Pandala Awakens update!