Little Hoku is growing leaps and bounds. Runoi is so proud of his sweet daughter. “You want to play with your tribal sister, Britta, my rosy flower?”
The tiny tot nods. She’s so bright, too, he thinks. A worthy princess. He is so glad Hoku has a little agemate in Ina and Horus’ toddler, Britta.
But Runoi cannot find Provider Eila to take Hoku for the day as Runoi has duties to gather tomatoes and onions for tonight’s supper. “That woman is never about,” he grumbles. “Ah, well…” Runoi places Hoku on his back and cries, “Where did my sweet Hoku go? I’ve misplaced her!”
Giggling, the tot says, “Here, Daddy!”
“She’s not in the corner! She’s not on the bed! Oh, goodness, what’s a daddy to do without his lovely rose petal to play with?”
“I’m here!” she says, laughing. Runoi could hear her tinkling bell laughter all day. He praised the Maker for blessing him richly–beyond his dreams. Two beautiful Amazons to fill his days with joy.
Newlin sets to work, trying to convince Kiko she should spar with him. Already, she’s been training with Kanui for weeks. He waited until this moment because he knows he has more to offer than Kanui, and if she’s already experienced his inefficiency, she’ll be ready to shift to him. All he needed to do was put some doubt in her head, then maybe she’d listen to his plan.
“Might I have a word with you, my lady?” he asks formally.
Bright smile beaming from her face, she says, “Of course, Newlin. What is it you wish to speak with me about?”
“I want to offer you a proposition of a far superior training regimen than Kanui is doing with you. If you wish to be the Grand Champion of Tribe Wahine, you must be proficient in all areas, including martial arts, swordplay, and archery. Kanui is not a master in any of those fields.”
Stunned at the truth of his words, Kiko asks, “Will you help me with that, Newlin? What do you propose?”
“In order to get you in the right frame of mind, your mana must exceed what it is now. The way to do that is to journey to the ancient temples of Rosa. There, you will achieve the most heightened mana and I will be able to teach you swiftly.”
“B-But that is all the way to the east, in deep jungle. The Creator would never allow it.”
“But we will never be allowed to unless you ask. Do this, Kiko. I am sure the Creator will see its sagacity.”
But Kiko does not wish to leave Kanui’s tutelage. With his warm smiles and baby blue eyes, she was in heaven whenever in his company. When the time comes, she hopes to ask him to be her mate. And with the coming changes in the Amazon, she more than hopes she will pair bond with him and make him hers forever.
“Well done, my lady. You are stronger than ever today,” Kanui encourages, sending pangs of joy through her. She wants to feel his strong arms wrap about her.
Unfortunately, she gets lost in these thoughts and stumbles. She picks herself up and starts punching the bag again.
But as the sweat on her forehead dribbles down her face, Newlin’s words pierce her to the core. He is right. She’ll never achieve mastery worthy of a Champion if she only works out her arms. She must know martial arts and weaponry.
As much as she hates to admit it, Kanui is not equipped to help her in this realm. She will have to leave his strong arms, if only for a little while. Newlin was a good friend to her. And once the training ends, she can come back and flutter her lashes at her one true love, Kanui.
Newlin cannot believe what he is hearing. It has been moons since he made the suggestion to trek to the ancient temple. He thought Kiko forgot about it, but to his surprise, Kiko has just asked the Creator to journey with him on this venture. His plan is working!
He can see it now. The setting will be gorgeous and the timing right. He will woo her up on top of the mountains by the mist of the great waterfalls. She will be his and he will be hers. His joy cannot be contained.
“Make sure to bring a chaperone,” Creator Kalani says. “I know…I’ll send Kanui and maybe one of your tribal sisters with you. Will that make you happy, Kiko?”
Warm sensations spring through Kiko. Kanui will be coming on the journey! “Oh, yes, your grace. Thank you so much!”
Leia cannot believe the audacity of the plan Mor and her daughter have come up with. “And what if we are imprisoned as we enter the Hanalani throne room? What is to stop their Creator from giving me over to my mother for similar favor?”
“Why, you forget who you’re talking to, dearest Leia. I am powerful. Full of magic. Do not fear. We will conquer.”
And so, Leia’s heart leaps as the journey to the Hanalani throne room finally comes to an end. It took many moons, trekking to the south until the famous skull protectors entered her view. Feelings of great foreboding course through her. Was Leia making a grave mistake?