A week passes and Makana walks around the compound like a zombie. She still can’t wrap her head around the fact that her parents and her tribal friends are gone.
When suddenly, she looks up and sees her grandparents. Heart melting, she rushes over to them and holds them like she’s dangling from a rope thrown over a cliff.
It’d been suns since she’d seen them. Her grandmother, Ysa Wahine, is the queen’s Explorer. Word went out to them and they traveled many miles to come to their daughter’s wake at the temple.
Her grandfather, Aulani, says, “We are with you, dearest Makana, and will not leave until you do not need us anymore.”
It is like a warm blanket having them here. “Thank you, Grandfather. That is a comfort.”
“Be prepared. The queen is coming behind us. She will wish to speak to you.”
Knots form in Makana’s stomach. Although the queen is her great grandmother, she is also a very powerful woman. Makana doesn’t want to disappoint her. She is not ready to see her.
As her grandfather warned, the great Hawika Wahine stands before Makana with her personal guard.
It is nice to see Kandor, her old tribal mate, again, but as he is on duty, he doesn’t look at her. Queen Hawika is ancient–nearly ninety suns old, but she looks younger than her son, Aulani. This is because she is the legendary Firestorm–a queen who rebirths once she grows old. The cycle will never end. She will be the everlasting ruler. And because of this, it gives Makana shivers.
“Makana,” the queen says in a commanding voice, making the girl jump. “It is with a heavy heart I am here under these circumstances. Please. Let us visit in one of your sitting rooms. I have much to say.”
Makana barely hears a word the queen is saying. Why is this happening? Makana doesn’t wish to be the new Creator. She is still only a teenager.
“And so, once the wake is over, I will induct you in as Tribe Wahine’s Creator. We have many enemies, dearest one. Therefore, I am giving you two of my fiercest slaves to watch over you day and night.”
Makana looks behind the queen’s guard at two very strong looking slaves. The taller one is named Aenor and the other Salvius. Both were picked by the queen herself to serve Makana.
“Thank you, great grandmother,” Makana says, overwhelmed by the queen’s kindness.
“Oh, dear one, I am so sorry you must grow up too soon. I assure you I am sending a covert group of hunters to take care of those who did this. Please do not fear. Judgement is coming for them.”
The thing Makana most dreads in her whole life is visiting the Temple of Urns. It is for Creators only. Makana knows the urn’s place for Queen Firestorm will always sit empty, but she never thought she’d come here for her mother before her grandmother, Ysa.
The queen’s guard watches near the Tribe Wahine banner. This section is for their creators’ remains. Only close relatives are allowed to grieve on temple grounds. No other tribal mates are permitted. This means Makana, her sister, Hoku, her grandfather, Aulani, her grandmother, Ysa, and her great-grandmother, Hawika, attend.
Makana views the first two urns–Creator Abra, who started Tribe Wahine, and her daughter, Buffy–both very great Creators who grew the tribe to tremendous heights back in ancient days.
Hawika is aghast at seeing her own very empty place where her urn should rest.
She knows it is her curse that has befallen her tribe. She outwitted death all of these years. The Grim Reaper always makes payment. She was told this many suns ago. Why didn’t she listen? She thought the ten lives she took at the Queen’s Quest would be enough but it is apparent she was gravely mistaken. And now, poor Makana, must suffer for Hawika’s sins.
They look on at Kalani’s urn–many suns too soon for this.
It sparkles in the morning light.
Makana will shed tears for many more suns. She will never forgive those who did this to her tribe. She will seek vengeance herself. She vows this before her mother’s ashes.
It is with heightened trepidation that Alena makes her way back to her mother.
If this meeting would pass, Alena would wish it so, but…she must own up to her own folly.
Her mother is cooking up a new potion. She wonders what it is. It smells…rancid.
Then her mother looks up and her gaze grips Alena’s heart painfully.
“You,” she hisses. “How dare you show up without your brothers. Tell me you didn’t leave without killing all of them.”
But words don’t come to Alena’s lips. How can she confess her mistakes? She didn’t have the heart to kill the babes. She is not a worthy assassin.
Her mother senses the despicable answer. She narrows her eyes. “They are alive? And your brothers are dead?”
“I…I killed most of them,” Alena stammers.”Creator Kalani and her mate are dead. I would have killed them all but…their Warrior was too strong and…Newlin, he…” These excuses sound weak even to Alena’s ears.
“And you didn’t kill Newlin?” she asks as if it is an easy thing to kill a brother. Her own child.
Alena is weak. She isn’t like her mother. And although Newlin thought he’d strangled her, even he didn’t try his best because of their sibling bond. “No, Mother, he snuck up on me and with his mana…”
Mor cuts her off, “I do not want to see you again until you hand me the queen’s head. Or I will hunt you down myself and make you pay for your brothers’ lives. Now go.”