It’s as if flies whine in Kanui’s ears as Lilit drones on and on about the height of the trees or the ambiance of the jungle flora. Kanui doesn’t care for such things. Nor has she asked him one question to take him out of this boring stupor.
His thoughts instead drift to Kiko and what Newlin is up to with her. No doubt he has conspired to wriggle his serpent ways to charm her. She had been Kanui’s pupil in the art of combat, after all. Yes, Kanui isn’t the best in mana, but he isn’t awful. Why did she allow Newlin to talk her into his training? It feels as if she’s slapped Kanui in the face. And now, he’s just a tag-a-long, stuck with a neverending chatterbox.
“And so I think you and I should find the temple. It’s not far, Kanui. Probably only a half day’s trek.” Lilit smirks. “I hear there’s a potion of ecstasy given as a reward to those who make the journey. Wouldn’t you like that, slave?”
But all Kanui registers from her words is “slave”.
Oh, that’s him. “Um…yes…quite.” That phrase always fit whatever the daft woman was saying.
Pumping her fist, she blurts, “Then tomorrow it shall be!”
That outburst wakes him up. “My lady?” Kanui asks.
Wiggling her eyebrows, she says in a sultry voice, “We’re going to have fun on our journey, Kanui. Just you wait and see.”
This proclamation squeezes Kanui’s stomach, not realizing what he’s gotten himself into, but with Lilit, how is he to refuse? Unless Kiko has something else for him to do, he is honor bound to fulfill the wishes of any Amazon of his tribe.
Wanting to get out of there, he raises his finger. “Um…my lady, I’m in need of a restroom. If you don’t mind?”
Lilit gives a giggle and says, “Of course, Kanui. You don’t have to ask my permission, silly.”
Happy to be rid of Lilit’s annoyance, Kanui makes for the outdoor restrooms when he spies two people walking into the village.
As he steps closer, he realizes the couple is not the normal tourists who come from all over the Amazon to enjoy the spoils of the jungle and its myths, magic, and treasures.
It is none other than Newlin and Kiko.
And Newlin has his arm coiled around Kiko like the snake he is!
“Good Maker, what’s going on?” Kanui mumbles, glaring.
Hand in hand, Newlin says with a smug look, “Hello, Kanui. Why are you waiting here like a sentry ready for battle? As you can see, Kiko is quite safe with me.”
“Sorry, but it looks as if she’s anything but,” Kanui retorts.
The two glare at each other like bulls ready to fight.
Kiko is shocked by this, but it also makes her smile inside. She didn’t realize Kanui was this protective over her. What Amazon doesn’t like slaves fighting for her notice?
Swiftly, Newlin takes Kiko’s hands and says, “It’s been a wonderful night, my lady. I hope tomorrow’s lessons will be as…fruitful?”
Lessons? Oh yes. But they’d only kissed by the rushing waterfall, under the bright moonlight. She would need to be more careful with him the following day. For they only had a few weeks until they needed to return home.
As Newlin kisses her hands, flutters tingle through Kiko, making her cheeks warm.
And then Newlin walks away, but not before he gives a glowering look at Kanui.
Guilty feelings course through Kiko and she stammers, “H-How are you tonight, Kanui? Did you and Lilit have fun together? The village market usually has many interesting things for trade. Did you pick out something special?”
But instead of a friendly answer, Kiko is met with a critical stare. “What exactly happened between you and Newlin tonight?”
Taken aback at his tone, Kiko says, “I don’t see how that is any of your business.”
Kanui tries his best to quell his anger, but a little mars his voice, “You do realize it’s forbidden for you to mate before your young adult birthday.”
Indignation courses through Kiko at these words. “Are you accusing me of something despicable, slave?”
Standing his ground, Kanui answers, “No. But I don’t trust Newlin.”
“I think you should trust me,” Kiko counters. “And it hurts me deeply that you would think so little of my judgement.”
Pumping his fists by his side, Kanui hisses, “He’s a snake, Kiko. You shouldn’t even be as close as you are to him. If you go on like this…” Kanui stops himself before he says something unforgiveable. Instead, he pleads with her, locking her eyes with his. He wants to be her choice. Why can’t she see it’s folly to seek out a man like Newlin?
But he knows he’s gone too far when he sees anger wash over her features.
“You would do well to think about yourself and not meddle in the affairs of others, Kanui. Good night.”
Sliding past him without another glance, Kiko stalks off toward their accommodations. Kanui knows he’s lost her, and there’s nothing he can do about it.
A week goes by and Newlin has given much training to Kiko, more than Kanui ever did in the moons she’d spent in his tutelege.
“You’re strong now, Kiko,” Newlin says with pride. “My little dragonfly is becoming a real dragon. Unfortunately, I’ve gone easy on you up until now but that will be no more.”
Kiko is confused. “Have I not given my best, Master Newlin?” Newlin insisted she call him “Master” during their training times. She understood this and didn’t mind giving him this title as long as the title ceased once training stopped. Amazons should never be under the lordship of a man.
“You have, but now I want you on your GUARD!” Jerking his leg toward her face, she instantly moves to block him with hers.
“Yaaah!” Kiko cries, feeling the shock of Newlin’s large leg crash against hers. Pain erupts on her shin and she bites down on her lip stopping any cries.
“Breathe deeper! Feel the mana! Otherwise, I’ll best you in two minutes.”
Newlin comes at her again, but Kiko is quick and blocks this as well. Mana is hard. The most difficult art yet. It is not something one can obtain except through serious concentration. He didn’t give her enough time! “It’s not fair, Newlin. I wasn’t ready!”
Kicking her until she bows before him in submission, Newlin cries, “Will you say it’s unfair when someone ambushes you? Your enemy will not be fair. You must have mana within at all times. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Master!” she yells, holding up her hand to receive yet another blow. “I understand!”
Kiko’s heart pounds painfully in her chest. Why is she so foolish? She doesn’t understand how to wield mana like Newlin does. Or how the great Queen Hawika Wahine did when she faced all those highly skilled Amazons in the ring for the quest of the crown. “I’ll never learn. You might as well give up on me.”
Dusting off his hands, Newlin drops on his back. “Oh no, little dragonfly. I’ll not let you off that easy. This time, you’ll use your mana to escape me even when it seems I’m weak.”
Confused, Kiko says, “But that makes no sense. If you’re laying on the ground, you’re finished.”
“Never underestimate a weakend enemy. They might be more powerful than you can even imagine. Now COME!”
Lunging toward Newlin, hoping to land a blow to his face, she feels a sickening jab to her stomach.
“Oomph,” she groans, hoping she doesn’t throw up.
“Dammit, Kiko, use your mana, not your head! AGAIN!”
Breathing deeply, Kiko feels a surge of warmth riddle through her. She is part of the air, the trees, the rocks, the ground. She sees the moves Newlin is about to make.
He punches at her face, but instead of a mere parry, she is more than ready for him.
After the training session is over, Kiko’s muscles feel as if they’re screaming at her. Exhausted, she flops to the ground. “Why is mana so difficult to learn, Newlin?”
Shrugging, he says, “If it were easy, more people would master it. But only a few…a very few…are dedicated enough to learn its ways.”
“Is that why Kanui isn’t good at it?”
Cocking his head, Newlin says, “I believe in addition to tenacity, mana is also a gifting passed down. My father was talented in the art as was my grandmother, Queen Hawika. Although Kanui and I share the same grandmother, he was not given this gift for I do believe he has the inclination.”
Sadness caught in Kiko’s throat. “What if I don’t have this talent? Maybe this is all a waste of time.”
Draping his arm around Kiko and honking her nose, he says, “Do you believe I’m such an imbecile as to waste my time on an untalented oaf?”
“Newlin, stop!” Kiko cries.
“No,” Newlin squeezes Kiko closer to him and kisses her head. “You, my dragonfly, are gifted beyond measure. You will be a great Amazon Champion for our Creator Heiress, Makana, when she grows. Mark my words.”
The roar of the waterfall thunders behind them as Newlin speaks more words of affection in Kiko’s ear. She hopes he’s right and that she can be of use to the new heiress when it is the proper time.
Sorry for the delay, but I’m back on track and will update at least once a week. Thanks for reading!