Chapter 6.29 Preparations

Kalani thinks on Makana’s words for a few days. But her insides scream for Runoi not to leave.

Unfortunately, Makana is right. She will lose Runoi’s respect if she doesn’t allow him this wish. For better or worse, she will grant his request.

Kalani strolls up to her mate. “Runoi, are you busy right now? I’d like to speak to you.”

“I am not busy,” Runoi says in a clipped tone.

“I think you’re going to like what I have to say. Please, baby, do not continue with this anger.”

Softening, Runoi says, “I am not angry, my rosy queen. What is it you wish from me? I’ll do whatever you like as is my duty to our tribe.”

Taking Runoi by the hand, Kalani leads her mate to their bedroom. Candles lit, Kalani hopes the ambiance will settle him as well as her.

“I have given the matter much thought, Runoi, and I believe you may join the Royal Slave Army and fight for my grandmother. You are right. All slaves must battle these rebels or all will be lost.”

Eyebrows raising, Runoi sputters, “R-Really? I never thought you’d change your mind so quickly. What happened to entice you to such a thought? I do not want to go if you really don’t want me to, my beautiful precious flower. I am truly sorry for fighting with you about it.”

Kalani shrugs. “Makana talked it over with me. You see, if I don’t allow you to have your way then I’m no better than the Amazons we’re fighting against. Truly. You are within your rights to go, my love. I will not bar you from it.”

Cocking his head, Runoi counters, “Will you not miss me then? No crying fits of anger. No wailing that you won’t have your beautiful handsome mate warming your bed? I don’t know how to take this change of mind.”

“Runoi…are you toying with me? Because I truly am unhappy about this decision. If anything happened to you, I would die inside, I love you so much.”

A great smile sweeps over Runoi’s features. “Of course not…I’m ridiculously joyous that you believe in me and I promise I’ll not die in battle. Mostly, I’ll probably man the fires and cook potato stew for the ranks. I’m sure that’s all Kandor will allow me anyway. Thank you, my rosy queen, for granting me this request!”

Kalani arches an eyebrow. “You know you’ll have to pay me dearly for such a request.”

Runoi draws nearer to Kalani’s face. “And YOU know I’m adept at any pleasurable payment you might require. I just hope you’re up for it, my darling.”

“I’m always up for it,” Kalani whispers, kissing her love with all the passion she can give.

*****

The following morning, Kalani is basking in the afterglow of the previous night as Runoi meticulously rubs the aching tension out of her muscles. “Oh, Runoi, that feels so good. You’re spoiling me. If you don’t watch it, I may retract my previous decision.”

“And I will abide by that decision, my lovely adoration, even if you command me to stay here and rub oil all over your stunning body, it would be my most absolute pleasure.”

Kalani giggles. “You’re being way too tempting, my love. Maybe we need to stay here just a little longer?”

Runoi knows Kalani is teasing but the thought of leaving her and what might happen in the unforseen future fills him with dread. But he accepts what he must do. Making a serious face, Runoi says, “It is with admiration that I’m even allowed to be your mate. Please forgive me of this duty for if it wasn’t so imperative, I wouldn’t step one sandalfoot outside of Tribe Wahine.”

“I know, baby. And I want you to know that I truly am proud of your decision. I have no doubt the Maker will bring you back to me unharmed.”

*****

Mist smiles at the decision Kalani has made.

“What do you think, Kiko? We are in desperate need of your talents and besides, I believe the old ways are wrong with these devastating consequences to one sin done at a young age. With such turmoil at hand, Queen Hawika could hardly blame me in this decision.” Kalani came to this idea as they will be down to only two slaves–Kanui and Alethualpa. With Runoi about to leave, the tribe needs more people to guard them.

Kiko cannot believe what she is hearing. Could the Maker’s face finally be shining upon her? Reestablished into the tribe without a curse dooming her every move? Yes! “With every respect imaginable, Creator, I am without words at your kindness to me.”

“Then it is settled. You will be working with Kanui and guarding our tribe at once as our official Warrior.”

Elation fills Kiko. She wants to jump up and shout to the highest mountaintop! “Thank you, my Creator. I will do my best to fulfill this honor.”

As Makana does every morning, she’s working on her mana so she may be a strong Creator one day. The times she grows up in are very difficult and unstable. She does not know when she may be expected to join in the war against the rebels.

The rain pitter patters behind Kiko, making her even more ready for her workout. “I am here to train with you, Master Kanui,” Kiko says, almost embarrassed that she’s had to take a step back these past two years since her love, Newlin, was expelled.

“I’m well pleased to welcome you, Lady Kiko. Come. Let us see what your mana is made of today.”

Instantly, Kiko goes to work on the sparring machine, adeptly dodging and weaving with the grace of a deer.

Kanui is pleased to have help from such a talented Amazon in guarding the tribe.

*****

Newlin outlines the plan on infiltrating and taking out every member of Tribe Wahine.

While it sounds precise, Alena is unsure she can trust her brother. “What makes you think we know you’ll do your part in this? After all, these people raised you.”

Newlin answers, “You forget, sister, that I ran away, wanting to be a part of this tribe. All ties were broken once I left. You can be assured, I probably hate them more than you do. I was the lowest of the lows in their eyes. Cursed by my birth mother to them. I never could fit in. Nay…you can trust me in this. It will give me glee to watch their blood spill.”

Mor warms her hand by the crackling fire. “Alena…we’ve talked about this. Newlin has the most mana of all of you put together. And he knows his way around the compound. Stop resisting and listen to him.”

“But he’s going to slay the children? Really? I highly doubt that.”

“It is not only I who will do this but I’ll have Finn to help, if that will make you feel better. We will infiltrate the women’s compound with the children as one sector while Simon LeBeouff and Vance will take out the guards. You, sister, will have the honor of killing the Creator.”

“And let me tell you, Alena,” Finn growls, “I will watch him kill at least two babes or it will be his head that will pay.”

Alena almost snorts thinking about how Mother had to fix Finn’s broken jaw with magic–due to Newlin’s mana induced punch, but she says nothing. If Newlin double crosses them, she’ll take him out herself with an arrow. She’s a reknown marksman. Newlin won’t even see it coming. But her mother seems to trust him and she does have her Luminous that can peer into hearts. If his was divided, she’d know it.

Simon LeBeouff stands. “I remember when you were a little boy, I left you to die in the Pillar of Punishment. How can I trust you won’t seek revenge on me?”

“I remember that day and I was frightened, but since have grown to understand you suffered pain at the hands of the tribe. I do not harbor any animosity toward you. I hope to call you ally and friend once this duty is done.”

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Chapter 6.28 Revenge

“Lay one hand on me, brother, and you will pay.” Finn runs up, hands clenched.

“Out of drugs today, Finn. Too bad,” Newlin retorts.

Mana power surging, his fist smashes into Finn’s jaw, bone making a painful snap.

“Don’t let him get away with that, Finn! Kick him!” Vance yells.

But it’s too late, Newlin throws Finn to the ground.

And punches him until he’s silent.

Breathing hard, Newlin watches as Finn groans and writhes in pain.

Newlin growls, “I expect you to do as I say, Finn. You are weak and should know your place. If you EVER drug me again, I will kill you.”

Vance claps then stretches his arms out. “Good one, brother! I applaud your talents! Finn deserved that. It wasn’t my idea to drug you and for that, I’m truly sorry.”

“I don’t know what is worse. The one who plots or the weakling who follows it. You disgust me.”

“I am a follower, Newlin. So be it. But now I’m yours. Is that such a crime? To follow those who are strong?”

Newlin smirks. “For you, dear brother, it is. You decided to follow the wrong man at the wrong time. And you shall pay.”

Moving like a deadly viper, Newlin pounces on Vance, hitting him until he flops to the ground.

“I submit to you, brother! Please stop!” Vance’s pleas die on deaf ears. Newlin will not stop until his message is heard loud and clear.

Pummeling Vance with blows, Newlin says, “Oh now you want me to stop. I’ll do as I please and will not hear anything to the contrary. You had this coming.”

Vance tries to defend himself, but the power in Newlin’s fists are too much.

When Newlin is satisfied, he stands, surveying his handiwork.

Emotion pierces him. “I wanted to be your brother. Your friend. And you gave me nothing but hatred. If all you respond to is anger, so be it. But I won’t be toyed with. I am your Master Slave. You will call me sir and do as I say from now on.”

*******

Makana’s father’s words echo in her soul as the days progress. What should she do? A part of her thinks she should stay out of it. Her mother, after all, knows best. She is the Creator! But then Runoi’s sad face and his desire to fight for what he believes in also speaks volumes. Men should have the right to fight for this important cause.

Makana finally decides she must have a meeting with her mother.

“Now what is on your mind, my darling daughter. We haven’t chatted like this in a long time. It’s quite overdue.”

Makana hesitates. How should she go about this? One misstep and her mother will cease the talk at once.

“I spoke with father the other day…”

Instantly, Kalani glares. “This better not be about your father joining the slave army because that subject is not up for discussion.”

“But isn’t it your mantra that everything is always up for discussion? I mean, if people didn’t talk about things, nothing would ever change for the good. Think about slave’s rights. If Queen Hawika didn’t discuss their grievances, we wouldn’t have Daddy here with us right now.”

Kalani’s face pinches like she ate a sour lemon. “Where are you going with this, child?”

“We are a liberal tribe. You even have said it yourself. Our slaves have rights. In fact, they are a part of our family and should be able to decide for themselves what to do. Otherwise, you are ruling with an iron Amazon fist. Is this not what you hate? And yet, you’re barring Daddy from doing the thing he believes in so much.”

“Good point, my dear, but you’re forgetting the truest thing of all. Your father is not a fighting man. He is a cook. A lover. These were the things he was bred for. Not using a sword. And furthermore, he’s as clumsy as an oxen on roller-skates. Do you really think he knows best in this matter?”

Those words knife through Makana. “Mother, it is a hard thing to think about Daddy fighting, but to bar him from going will hurt him to the core. He will not respect you. He will not respect himself. You cannot do this to him.”

“Makana, I cannot bear the thought of anything happening to your father. I love him too much for that. Besides, we need him here. We are down too many slaves. Who would cook for us? Kanui? He’s awful at it. The answer is no.”

“Fine. But I’ll tell you this. If you don’t let him go then your relationship will suffer. Already you’re not talking. It’s been over a week. Think long and hard about this, Mother.”

With that, Makana stands and strides toward the living area. Kalani gazes after her, thinking about her words.

Maybe there is a way to compromise. Kalani’s tires of fighting with her mate. She will speak to Runoi at once.

******

Alena rushes to report what she’s seen. “Mother, both Vance and Finn are incapacitated. You got your wish. I hope you’re happy now. I think Finn’s jaw is broken.”

“Oh, don’t be so dramatic, Alena. They will be fine. I have a spell that will fix Finn up. Send Newlin to me. I wish to speak to him.”

Cautiously, Newlin approaches his mother. He’s unsure what she’ll say. Will she banish him for hurting her favorite sons? Coming here has brought nothing but folly to him. He might run away. Living alone would feel better than this. “I’m here, Mother.”

“Yes, my son, please sit. I have much to discuss with you.”

Once Newlin settles into a chair, his mother smirks. “Your mana is powerful. I can feel it grow even now. Your brothers will follow your orders without fail. You see what I mean about weakness and strength?”

Newlin nods, so relieved his mother is happy. He feels his bond to her grow immeasurably. It was always his desire to be loved by her. And now instead of being angry with him for beating up Finn and Vance, she’s happy. “I do understand. I’ve never felt mana surging like that before. You’re right about Tribe Wahine making me weak. I’m sorry for it.”

“We shall see how sorry you are. We are allied with the rebel forces. And in order to cut Hawika in half, we are to take out Tribe Wahine single handedly. What do you say in being my general to lead in the attack? And if you do this thing, I promise you’ll be the general of the Royal Slave army once your sister ascends the throne.”

This blows Newlin away. Him? A general? He could only dream to have that much power. And to lead the slave army if he does well. “Take Tribe Wahine out, you say? What does this entail?” His thoughts meditate on Kiko and his child. He would never harm them.

“You will lead your brothers and sisters in the cover of night and like a death plague, kill every last one of them until there is not a heart left to beat.”

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Chapter 6.27 New Revelations

“A financial advisor?” Kalani asks Temon, puzzled.

“Of course, my lady. I helped the slave hold to grow its interests five fold in the few years I handled their assets.”

This slave spoke in gibberish to Kalani. Tribe Wahine has never cared for its riches. To her, it is a necessary evil. “And what do we gain by growing these…assets? We have enough money. Nay more than enough. Why do we need more?”

“To trade and barter with the other tribes. To buy more slaves, if needed. To acquire more land. We are bursting at the seams here with all the babies that have been born. They will sire more children and on and on it goes. Can you not see the future? Seriously, your grace, to have more is always best. It’s for your protection, too. As it is, you need more slaves to guard us from warring tribes. We are but a paltry few as most have run off to defend the crown.”

That makes sense. The children will wish to have their own bedrooms once they come of age and they don’t have enough space for all of them. A larger compound will be necessary in the future. And although there aren’t any threats at present, maybe there will be in the future depending on how the war ends. Temon is obviously a very smart man. “So…what would this ‘growing of our assets’ look like? What would you do?”

“First, we will need a vault to put all of our money. From there, I’ll manage our crops, making sure we get the best dollar amounts. We have the rarest of plants and that should grow our gold. I’ll give you a statement of what we produce every week. I promise you’ll be surprised at how rich our tribe will become if you have a person managing it.”

Mist beams. “I told you he was a genius, Creator. He shouldn’t be in charge of laundry anymore. Maybe we can buy another slave to help with that?”

Kalani nods. “You’re right, Mist. I’ll put Temon in charge of acquiring another slave.”

Lifting her hand, Kalani says, “Very well, Temon. You are our chief financial officiant. Do what you wish at managing our wealth. I will meet with you every moon for updates. And I’ll put Kanui in charge of building you an office with its own vault in the basement. Does this sound good to you?”

Temon is beside himself with relief. There is nothing more exciting to him than checking off ledgers and completing a financial grid. No more laundry! Those words are heaven on earth. “Very good indeed, my Creator. And thank you very much.”

*****

Aley loves his job of taking care of the little ones. And he especially is smitten with baby Dak. What a charmer!

“Who’s daddy are you?” Dak asks as Aley is teaching him his A B C’s.

“I’m no one’s daddy, young man. Well, not yet anyway.” If duty calls, Aley will perform for the good of the tribe. Slaves are scarce these days and fresh genes are always welcome. And besides, he saw the change that came over his love, Temon, when little Meadow was born. Aley would like that special gift of a child, too, one day.

RIsing, Aley says to the toddler, “It’s time for you to play, Dak. Run along now.”

“But Aley, who’s MY daddy?”

Good grief! This child is beyond smart for his age. But what to say? Truth is always best but…how could Aley tell this tot his father is a treacherous lout? And Dak was begotten under the most accursed and scandalous situation.

Aley sighs. “Your father is a…um…a hero, little Dak. He…did his duty at defending this tribe and…risked his life to save…you. So, he’s off defending us as we speak.” Aley’s face blushes as he speaks these lies. He fancies himself a good storyteller and so what if it wasn’t true? Dak will never know the difference as he’s never seen his father and no one ever speaks of the curse that his mother is under in the tribe.

Thinking of how wonderful this imagined hero slave is, Aley decides to write it down. Maybe he’ll create a book of stories to tell the little ones.

*****

Newlin’s body screams at him in pain. His double crossing snake brothers drugged him so he couldn’t defend himself. And they pounded, kicked, and beat him until he almost passed out. Why do they hate him so? He came to this tribe out of love only to find poison. He aches for his home, Tribe Wahine. If only he could go back in time, he would have become the most conscientious tribal son, always happy to help, doing his lowly duties with a smile on his face. He would have waited the two suns for Kiko to ask him to be hers. His stomach stabs him painfully.

But it’s too late. And he’s stuck here. In hell.

Newlin passes out for who knows how long when a woman’s husky voice awakens him. “Get up, brother. I’ll tend to your wounds.”

Alena? Since when has she ever been nice? She had been worse than the twins to Newlin. But his face throbs and he needs help to even walk. Grasping her strong hand, he whispers, “Thank you.”

*****

He must have slept for two days, his body aching. Once dressed, Newlin opens his bedroom door to find Alena waiting on him.

“Good. You’re up. Mother wants to speak with you. Attend her upstairs.”

Mother. Yes! That’s the way to get back at his duplicitous siblings. She always had showed him love and respect. “I will go at once, dear sister. And I’ll bend her ear on what folly Finn and Vance have done to me.”

Waving her hands, Alena implores, “You will not speak of this to Mother. Are you as stupid as you look now, brother? She hates weakness. Attend to her needs and button your lip. Understand?”

“But my face will show that someone beat the hell out of me. I’ll not lie.”

Arching her eyebrow, Alena says, “I promise she’ll not ask you. She already knows anyway. She predicted they’d do something to you. Can you not see the hatred in their eyes they cast your way? You must put them in their place. Running to Mother is not the answer.”

Anger wells within him at his sister’s words. He doesn’t believe her. His mother cares for him unlike Alena or his brothers. Alena wants him to fight and get into trouble. “Thank you for your kindness, sister,” he says with malevolence coloring his voice.

He charges upstairs to find his mother having dinner. He grabs a plate. “Do you know what your sons have done to me, Mother? They should go to the pillar of punishment for this injustice.”

Glaring up at him, Mor hisses, “Who did I put in charge of this compound? Are you not strong enough to keep them in line?”

Not a shred of sympathy? Maybe Alena was right. “B-But…they drugged me. How can I control that?”

“Stupid boy. Tribe Wahine has turned you into a sniveling little weakling. I’m ashamed at the sight of you. If you can’t control your siblings, you have no business being here. Deal with this shame or I will put YOU into the pillar of punishment. Understand?”

Her words were like a lash to his back.

But there is truth in what she says. He feels like a scared little weakling. Maybe Tribe Wahine was too lax. Had he not had the best of comforts? This made him soft even with the gifting of his mana. He never had a chance to use it. But now?

His brothers have no idea how strong mana made a person. Finn and Vance were like little boys playing with a cobra.

He chuckles. “As you wish, Mother.”

Weeks pass. Newlin lays low so his brothers will not suspect the malice in his heart. His wounds are healed but not his pride.

Searching the compound, he comes upon them, sitting by a fire, not doing the chores he’s asked of them as usual.

“Yes, brother? What is it you wish from us?” Vance asks.

Finn smirks. “That look on your face could kill a lion. Come. Sit by the fire. We promise to do our chores tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow will be too late for you two will not be able to stand.” Newlin’s hands grow into fists as the mana’s energy surges through him.

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Chapter 6.26 The Fight

“Let me kiss you, my lovely queen,” Runoi says as he pecks his love on the cheek. His insides are churning, though, for what he’s about to ask her.

But he will do it over a full belly. “Come with me for I have much to say to you, my rose petal. I want to treat you to a special lunch at The Tiki Torch. You know you love the atmosphere there.”

Eyeing him with adoration, Kalani says, “What is all of this, my sweet mate? I love you with all my heart, but I’m quite busy. I have a meeting with Temon.”

Pulling her over to sit, Runoi throws on his charm. “Oh, so you’d rather spend time with that barbaric killjoy than spend some precious time with me? I see how it is now.”

Pumping his arm, Runoi adds, “Look at what you’ll be missing, darling. Need I remind you what a stunning specimen I am?”

“Seriously, Runoi, what’s gotten into you?”

“Nothing at all. I just want to shower you with my love…and my most excellent body later.” He winks knowing the effect it will have on her.

Rolling her eyes, she huffs, “Fine. I’ll reschedule my meeting for tomorrow then.” She kisses him on the cheek, so thankful he still thinks of her like he did back when they were young and he was wooing her amongst all her other suitors.

*****

Unfortunately, no sooner had they finished their lunch, Runoi blurts out his request.

But Kalani takes it exactly as he feared she would. Her eyebrows draw in angrily. “How dare you manipulate me like this, Runoi. You didn’t want to shower me with love. You wanted to butter me up. Well it didn’t work. Absolutely not. You will never leave Tribe Wahine. Is that clear?”

Raising his hand, he backpedals. “Whoa! You’re taking this all wrong, darling. I just wanted us to talk rationally in a private place. I did want to spend some private time with you. This was not about buttering you up. Won’t you listen to what I have to say at least? Do I not deserve that attention after all these suns together?”

Sitting back and crossing her arms, she says, “Fine. I’m listening.”

“Queen Hawika’s situation is desperate. She called for ALL fighting Amazons and slaves. Am I not a slave, my lovely darling? Do I not have muscles that could aid in the fight? Yes, I can cook, but I’ve had a bit of sword training in my youth as well as I am very industrious and can lend a hand in tactical administration. Kandor would listen to my advice and welcome it.”

Setting her jaw, Kalani hisses, “You would get yourself killed. The answer is still no.”

“You aren’t even listening to me. How fair is that?” Runoi spits.

“This is not about fairness, Runoi, it’s about your life. Even Kandor told me to never allow you to join the army. Did you not even listen to him?”

“The situation was different when he left. We are at war now. If the other side wins, I won’t see you or our daughters anymore. Is that what you want, Kalani? Allow me to help and preserve the little dignity I have left as a man.”

Tears welling up in Kalani’s eyes, she shakes her head. Kalani has never had a cross word with Runoi before. This fight stings her at the core.

She’s so upset her mate would even entertain the idea in the first place. And she’s hurt he’d even want to leave. Now she understands Ina’s feelings on the matter. But Horus is a hulking man who would be an asset to the army. Runoi was bred as a breeding slave. They are very different people. There’s no debating this further.

Pointing at him, she declares, “For the good of the tribe and yourself, my answer is no. Drop it Runoi. At once. Do your duty to the tribe and our family. That is your only obligation.”

With that, she jerks the chair back and storms out of the room.

“Good Maker, that didn’t go well at all,” Runoi mumbles to himself. Mixed feelings of anger and helplessness rush through him. How can Kalani not see the desperation of their situation? He is destined to sit back while others fight for a cause so dear to him. It’s unfathomable.

*****

Makana notices something off with her parents. Usually when they’re even five feet away, one of them is either eyeing the other in an embarrassing way or they at least blow kisses. Tonight, they won’t even look at each other let alone speak.

And just now when her mother passed by her father, she glared then looked away.

Catching her eye, Runoi asks, “What is it, princess?”

Sitting on the couch, she pats the space beside her. “Daddy, I know something’s wrong. Did you and Mother have a fight?”

Arching an eyebrow, Runoi says, “Your mother is a very beautiful woman and I love her very much, but she can be so remarkably, infuriatingly stubborn sometimes.”

“I do know how stubborn she is,” Makana agrees. “What happened?”

Shaking his head, he says, “All I asked was to be allowed to join in the fight against the rebel forces. It’s hard for me to sit here and do nothing when others are ready to join in the fight. If our side doesn’t win, our family will be ripped apart.”

“But Daddy, you aren’t a fighting man. What good would it be if you lost your life? That would hurt us worse than if you had to leave. At least then, we’d get to visit you.”

“Makana, there’s an old saying, it’s not the size of the Amazon in a fight but the size of the fight in the Amazon. I have heart enough for this, my dearest daughter. But no one believes in me.”

His words pierce Makana’s heart. He’s right. No matter what happens, he should be given the right to fight if he so wishes it. Obviously, he yearns to help. Maybe she could talk to her mother for him.

******

Knives slice through Mist’s back and through her stomach. It is time. The baby is about to arrive.

When she tells Temon, he is beside himself. “Are you sure? What should I do?”

But she’s overcome by another wave of pain and she bolts to the nursery.

Hours later, their daughter arrives. “We’ll call you Meadow for you are as lovely as the green grass and beautiful wild flowers!”

Temon cannot believe this day has come. And she’s as beautiful as her mother with her shiny silver hair. But she has his dark eyes.

A tingle of pride flows through him. He’s never felt such love for another person in his life. “You will be well cared for, my dear sweet princess. And showered with all my adoration.”

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Chapter 6.25 War Imminent

Before the sun rose in the sky, Makana meets with Kanui for training. She knows she’s in for sore muscles and tired limbs but she’s ready. Makana wants to be a powerful Amazon Creator like her great grandmother Hawika. With war on the horizon, she will need every minute Kanui can give her.

“What is it today, Kanui? Weights? Running?” Makana asks. She’s been training with Kanui for weeks now. He loves to push her until she’s about to drop. It’s the way he was taught by former Tribe Wahine slave Kandor who is now the general of the Royal slave army at the palace.

With a slick smile, Kanui says, “I have something different in mind. I’m going to teach you hand to hand combat. I bought a new machine. It’s from the North Tribe. They made it and it works really well. You can hit it hard without worrying about bruising your opponent.”

Instantly, Kanui goes to battle with the contraption. It is the silliest thing Makana has ever seen– put together with simple parts and tree branches for hair.

But it moved its paddles to hit and Kanui had to duck and weave like going against a real person. Makana guesses it’s fairly good to use but she’d prefer combatting Kanui himself. If she could best him, could she not battle anyone for he is the most muscled man she’s ever seen. She’d heard his father, Tonai, is a large man. No doubt his son inherited his body.

Barely breathing even after a fifteen minute bout with the strange gadget, Kanui says, “Now it’s your turn.”

“Humph,” Makana chides, “this should be easy.”

Makana hits the paddles in succession. “Ha!” she cries.

But the thing catches her off guard and she ducks. “Whoa. Is it going crazy?”

“That’s how it works. Keep going. It’s good to test your coordination.”

Jabbing it in the middle, Makana thinks the round should be over.

But instead, one of the paddles knocks her in the jaw painfully and sends her reeling back.

“I hate this thing!” she yells. “Can we do something else?”

Kanui laughs. “Okay…this was a good first session. Now let’s use the boxing bag.”

Makana’s muscles are so tired now, she can barely move.

“Punch it hard!” Kanui implores. “That’s how you’ll grow stronger.”

But after twenty minutes of pounding, Makana is ready to give up. “No more, Kanui. I cannot lift my arms.”

“Do you not want to be the best Amazon fighter? You must train. Harder. Faster. It is the only way.”

“But how can I go harder and faster when my arms are like wet noodles. No, Kanui. This is folly.”

Smiling like he’s enjoying watching her pain, Kanui says, “I understand, Creator Heiress. I once thought as you did when the great Kandor trained me. I wouldn’t be the fighter I am today without his strenuous tactics. Don’t you want to succeed in your goals?”

Makana hates it that he’s making sense. “Very well, but I’ll remember this day, Kanui. You might suffer one of my painful punches when you least expect it.”

Laughing, Kanui says, “I would welcome it, my lady. Any time.”

Makana goes back to beating the boxing bag, cussing with every punch and hoping this work will not be in vain.

******

Kalani’s stomach drops at the news Horus just shared. He’s leaving Tribe Wahine.

“If I didn’t feel this cause to be most important, my Creator, I would not by any means leave the tribe most dear to my heart, my true love, and my daughter. But the situation is desperate. I hope you understand.”

Her grandmother had sent word out to all tribes that the army needs every available fighting Amazon and slave. They’ve suffered many attacks and a declaration of war from rebel tribes has been formally issued. The main tribe in charge is the hated Tribe Hanalani, the former trecherous queen’s tribe. The rebels want to go back to the old ways, including banning any attachments to slaves, killing tribal sons, and fighting for leadership. Everything Queen Hawika has worked for until this day would be swept away.

Kalani answers, “Believe me, I do understand your plight, Horus, and I will give you my hearty support even though I will be sad to say good bye to you.”

“How can you say that, Creator?” Gatherer Ina counters. “We cannot afford to lose another man! It would be one thing if we had fighting Amazons among us, but we don’t! Tribe Wahine will be at the mercy of any renegade thief or crook. No. I do not sanction this at all.”

“My love, we’ve been over this. If the rebels win, I will never see you or our daughter again!”

“He speaks the truth, Ina.” Turning to Horus, Kalani adds, “You have my leave to go in peace, my tribal brother, and make sure to come back to us for it would grieve us deeply to lose you.”

At this final proclamation, Ina shudders, trying to hide her tears.

Horus is in pain watching her cry. He doesn’t know how to make her feel better.

Wiping her face, she gets up, angrily glaring at Horus as she leaves the council meeting. She cannot take seeing him for another moment. She is beside herself at him wanting to leave her.

Kalani shrugs helplessly at this terrible situation. “I’m sorry for the way Ina is taking this news, Horus. In time, I know she will be proud of your decision. I find it most worthy of your character.”

After Horus excuses himself, he searches out his love. He finds her jerking the fruit off the trees in the garden.

Gingerly, he approaches her. “Sweetheart. Please understand why I must go. It is my duty. I owe it to my fellow slaves.”

Whipping around she retorts, “But you are not a slave, are you, Horus! You would not suffer any of the punishments nor would you have to leave us. We need you here more than ever. First Kandor leaves us now you. Do you not care what happens to your family?”

He shakes his head. “You know this is not true, my love. I would be forced to leave. As a free man, yes, I cannot be put to death but no man would be allowed in the tribe if he does not forgo his freedom. I would become a slave and then because I sired a child, I couldn’t stay. Understand this, please. Think through it logically.”

Pointing at him, she yells through tears, “It is YOU who are not thinking logically. We cannot…bear to live without you. What if….what if you get killed? Then what?”

Grabbing her hands, Horus says gently, “Then it is the Maker’s wish for me to give my life for a great cause. I love you more than anything but how could I live with myself if I didn’t help? Please understand. For me.”

He pulls her into him, kissing off her tears. “I love you, my precious Ina. Remember that always.”

Draping her arms around him, Ina kisses her love, not wanting to ever let go.

******

With news of Horus leaving, Runoi feels the heavy weight of duty and honor gripping him. He knows what he must do but unlike Horus, he isn’t free. Kalani would never agree to allowing him to serve in the Queen’s Royal slave army.

And although he knows it is a long shot that she would consent, he must ask this of her. And he will use all his charms to convince her to allow it. For he would not ever see his two daughters or his mate again if the rebels win. He must go.

“There you are my sweet lovely queen. Could you spare a minute of your precious time for your most devilishly handsome and absorbingly charming mate?”

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Chapter 6.24 Triple Threat

It’s Amazon Blessings Day and the twins are gobbling down the feast.

Especially Ale. Alika thinks his twin looks like a sand beast from one of their favorite stories. It’s a worm that devours even rocks!

Kiko and Newlin’s son, Dak, is unhappy, glaring at whomever gets in his path.

The little tot pushes Britta away and takes her food. Britta’s father, Horus, shakes a finger at him. “We do not act like that, Little Dak. You may give that plate back to your tribal sister and sit in time out for that behavior. Young tribal sons are to honor Amazons at all times, thinking of their needs first.”

The little boy stares at Horus obviously not understanding. Horus is struck by how much he looks and acts like his father, Newlin.

*****

As Master Slave, Newlin checks in on the progress made by his brothers on the new room. “How are you doing, Finnegan? Do you need any help? I’d be happy to lend a hand if need be.”

This intrusion on Finn’s peace is unwelcome. He still can’t get over the fact that his mother actually put a Tribe Wahine slave over them. Brother or not, Finnegan would never accept him. “Thank you for the offer, but no. I’m doing just fine on my own.”

Crossing his arms, Newlin says, “At this rate, the room will take a few moons to complete. Four hands are better than two, are they not?”

Shaping one of the cornerstones that will be a part of the foundation, Finnegan says, “My brother, Vance, may need your assistance. Why not ask him if you are so inclined?”

Newlin walks toward Vance who is working a few yards away. “Annoying know-it-all bastard,” Finnegan thinks to himself. “He needs to learn his place.”

Brushing his chin, Newlin says, “Vance, I believe you are nailing those bits in the wrong place. If you wish, I’ll redo it and you can help our brother Finnegan with the cornerstones. We’ll be needing eight of them.”

Vance startles from the sound of this newcomer’s voice. What complete and utter nonsense. Who is he to tell Vance he’s doing things wrong? “I’ve done this before. I know exactly how to nail in a few boards.”

Whipping around to give a look at his brother, Finn, Vance sees an impish grin on his face. What is he up to?

The two do seem very capable, Newlin thinks to himself. Then his work is done for the day. Being Master Slave is heavenly! “Well, I guess you don’t need my help then. I’ll cook supper for us in the meantime. Would you like that?”

What we’d like is to be left alone, thought Finnegan, but instead, he answers, “That would be lovely.”

******

Alena is concerned about their new brother coming to live with them, especially with the impending plan they’ve painstakingly created on how to obliterate Tribe Wahine. He could ruin everything. “Mother, I’m flustered that you would make a total stranger the master over Finn and Vance. They will never accept him that way. Already, they’ve complained about him to me. They hate him. Add that to the fact that he was raised in Tribe Wahine, he would never be on board with our plan to wipe out their tribe.”

Not blinking once, her mother answers, “Oh, Alena, do you think I’m a simpleton? Have I ever made a rash decision in my life?”

“No, but now I’m beginning to think you’ve made a mistake with this one. Forgive me, Mother, but this Newlin deep down will be faithful to his tribe. Unless we make him feel like he belongs, he won’t side with us against Tribe Wahine. And now, Finn and Vance will never accept him. What a foolish thing to do! He should have been the lowest slave and earned his way up.”

“Alena, you don’t understand how Newlin was raised. He’s soft. Spoiled. Not worthy to be a part of the Rigan Tribe. But I’ve seen inside him that he is the worthiest of us all. He has the most mana I’ve ever seen in a man. But the way to refine him and bring out his mana strength is through fire. That will bind him to us.

“And furthermore, once he goes through hell, you’ll help him to feel loved.” The meaning in her mother’s words is clear.

Fire erupts inside Alena. “I will NOT be used to help a stranger. No, Mother. I am the general of the real Amazon army who will defeat the treacherous Queen Hawika and bring back the laws of old. This is beneath me. You promised.”

“Alena, if my plan works, Newlin will not only help us exterminate Tribe Wahine, but he’ll be the slave champion that will help catapult you on the throne. Not Leia. Now I suggest you get ready to salve Newlin’s wounds because I suspect your brothers will have their way with him very soon. And I do hope you will teach him our ways. Eh?”

Alena feels as she’s been struck in the gut. Her mother wants her to become queen. No doubt once Queen Hawika is killed, the Death Trials will occur and she’ll rise to the top as the best fighter, killing all the other Creators who would bid for the title. That is something Leia and Jozka have forgotten. “Yes…I…see now. I’ll make sure, Mother. He will be trained.”

******

A delicious spicy aroma fills the air. Even though Finnegan hates the sight of Newlin, he does appreciate his culinary talents. Once he and his brother finish with him, Newlin will be destined to the kitchen forever. Master Slave. What a joke. “Smells good, brother. What is it that you’re cooking?”

Smiling, Newlin says, “I’m making the cranberry glaze that I will baste over the ham I have in the oven. It should be delectable. I hope you’ll like it.”

I would like to punch you in that pompous face, Finn thinks. “Yes, I do love a good ham.”

Shaking salt into the bowl, Newlin laughs. “I expected as much.”

Ham finished, Newlin scrapes his chair over the wood and sits.

“Looks very delicious, Newlin. Thank you for cooking. No one in our tribe knows how to cook very well. How did you learn? From your last tribe?”

“No actually, I never cooked before in my life until I came to live here. Since I was by myself, I thought I’d better figure it out or starve to death. Remember, I lived here for a few suns until you came back. I learned a lot. How to garden. Sell produce at the market. Buy meat. All the things that had been done for me in Tribe Wahine. I discovered I love to cook.”

“That’s a good story.” Finnegan takes a plate and moves to leave. “If you don’t mind, I’ll give this to Vance. He was working late on his projects today.”

After the events of the day, Newlin is getting suspicious that his brothers don’t like him very much. They avoid him at all costs. And even after he’s tried to get along with them. He’s broken his back on being nice. What more could he do?

The reality hits him hard. He misses his old tribe. It’s as if darkness has swallowed him. He longs for the brightness of Tribe Wahine. If only they hadn’t cast him out. But these are aimless thoughts, not getting him anywhere. Glaring, Newlin thinks, “I’ll make you like me whether you want to or not, little brother. Just you wait and see.”

Meeting his brother on the porch, Vance says, “What was with your looks today? You have a plan on how to get rid of our asshole brother without making Mother angry?”

Finn smirks. “I suspect we’ll encounter Mother’s wrath, but the way I see it, Newlin would rather lie than tattle. How would it look if a Master Slave was bested by his little brothers? You know Mother doesn’t like weakness.”

Vance says, “So, you want to pummel him? I’m not sure that will work. He’s pretty stout. And he’s bragged about how gifted he is with mana. He could easily cream us in a fight.”

Finn laughs. “Not if we put something in the drink I’ll make him tonight.”

Vance smiles. “I like the way you think.”

*****

Downstairs, Finn and Vance find their brother. “Ah, just the man we were looking for.” He pats Newlin on the shoulder.

“You were?” Newlin asks.

“Why, yes!” Finn laughs. “I was just telling Vance that I bet you didn’t like wine, but he bet you did.

“If you like wine, I’ll pour you a glass of our finest red that we made ourselves. If you don’t, tell us what is your drink of choice and Vance will make it for you. We want to show you our hospitality. After all, you are our honored Master Slave.”

Wow. This turn of events surprises Newlin. He thought for sure the two didn’t like him. Maybe he was wrong. “I love wine, my brother. I would welcome your vintage red. Thank you kindly.”

“It is my pleasure!”

Maybe Newlin doesn’t have anything to worry about. He was just feeling out of place and homesick. His brothers really do like him after all.

Vance looks at his brother with delight. He cannot wait to see his smug face full of bruises.

“So…who is the winemaker in this family? You?” Newlin asks.

“My brother and I both love to make it,” Vance answers. “Did you not see the grapevines on the side yard?”

“I had wondered if those were put to good use. I’m glad to hear of it.”

“Brother!” Vance calls out. “Your wine is poured. Come have a taste.”

Newlin swirls the luscious crimson liquid. He can smell the pleasant aroma.

Taking a sip of the smooth yet piquant drink, the fruity taste is most welcome.

Arching an eyebrow, Finn says, “I hope you appreciate its delicate flavor. Vance and I both worked hard on its ingredients.”

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Because I’m going out of town this week, there won’t be another update until next week.

Chapter 6.23 The Creator Heiress

Today is a most important celebration. Makana is turning into a teenager. Oh how the suns have passed. It seems like only a few moons ago when Runoi and Kalani held their first born daughter in their arms.

“We aren’t getting any younger, are we, my rosy queen?” Runoi says with a laugh. “But I must say, you look as if you could be our daughter’s sister, not mother, you’re so beautiful.”

Kalani grins at the sweet words of her mate and gives him a kiss on the cheek. She walks over to the table and says, “You outdid yourself on her cake, my love. Do you like it, Makana?”

“Yes. Father made it exactly as I asked. Cranberries are my favorite.”

Runoi throws confetti and says, “Make a wish, my darling sweet rose petal!”

Makana thinks for a while. She decides to wish for the curse that’s been hovering over her mistake to be lifted. Then with a shrug, hoping that impossible dream to become possible, she blows out the candles.

“Whoo hoo!” Runoi hollers then rips a loud blast on the celebration horn.

With a magical twirl, Makana grows taller. “Tada! How do I look?”

“Like a gorgeous ruby queen. Kings will bow down before you, my beautiful daughter. I would expect nothing less coming from your exquisitely striking parents.”

Makana laughs at her father’s joke. He always spoke positive words or clowned around and was never cross with her. How lucky she is to have such a family.

Sitting at the bar, she says, “Well, what is everyone looking at me for? It’s time to dance and have a good time!”

Leading the way, Makana lets loose with everyone bobbing to the jungle music Kanui and Lilit picked up from their journey a few suns ago.

Hoku is a masterful dancer already, just like her father.

Parties are especially fun for her. She cannot wait until she becomes a teenager. But she’ll have to wait two more suns.

In a few minutes, the whole tribe joins in the festivities. It’s a pleasurable time for Tribe Wahine.

Growing weary of dancing, Makana leaves the room to find one member of the tribe not joining in. Cocking her head, Makana says in a motherly tone, “Ale…what are you doing out here?” The twins were always getting into trouble. One person needed to keep an eye on them at all times. Seems he slipped away somehow.

“Nofing,” the tot says with an impish look on his face. Makana is sure there’s paint all over the grass somewhere in the gardens.

“Are you mad?” he asks with big brown eyes, making Makana’s heart melt.

Picking him up, Makana says, “Not today! It’s my birthday and you look like you’re in need of cake!”

“Yummy!”

*****

Days later, Temon is feeling the lowest since his arrival to Tribe Wahine. His arms ache, his legs feel as if they’ve lifted too many weights but worst of all, his heart weighs on him. Kanui notices and asks, “What’s wrong with you, my tribal brother? Are you not well? For it is a joyous week. All duties are finished. The sun is shining. Our tribal coffers are full. If you wish anything, all you have to do is but ask.”

“I do not know, Kanui. Could it be that the burden of fatherhood is upon me like a demon sitting on my chest? What if Mist bears yet another son? I do not think I could take trying again only to be cursed with nothing but male children.”

“Sons are not curses, Temon. Not anymore. The queen needs sons for the Royal Guard. Or better yet, they might be given the special honor of serving at the queen’s court. Tribe Wahine’s sons are always given favor. Think of me. I have two sons, but already, Queen Hawika has asked to see them. I am not downcast. You shouldn’t be either.”

Temon thinks this over. The words Kanui speaks are true but…Temon isn’t the grandson of the queen like Kanui. Would his son be granted such favor? He can feel it in his bones. He will be cursed with a boy.

Sighing then straightening his back, Temon mutters, “I must go, Kanui. Although you say all the work is done for the week, laundry waits for no man.”

“Take Aley with you to lighten your load this time. Okay, Temon? And cheer up!”

“Of course, Master Kanui. Thank you.”

Temon’s mate lovingly goes with him to see to his laundry tasks. “You do not have to do this, darling. It is my lot to finish the laundry. You are to help with the children. It is what you love best.” A cloud seems to rain over Temon’s head. He cannot shake this heavy feeling.

“Nonsense, my love. I want to help you.” Aley grabs a heap of clean clothes to hang dry.

One by one, Aley pins each parcel. He loves getting outside in the cool breezes for a change. He worries for his mate, though. Sometimes a demon takes hold of Temon for moons and nothing can console him.

Once they’ve finished, Aley pulls Temon aside. “Hey…what is it, my love? You know you can share with me.”

“My burdens are mine alone, I’m afraid. I do not wish to push them on you.”

“Then why am I here, Temon? You saved me from certain death at the hands of the Northern clans and from all kinds of atrocities. I am your mate. For life. I wish to carry burdens right along with you. Is it something to do with Mist? You can tell me. You know I am not jealous.”

Looking down for a while, Temon finally lifts his head and answers, “I…I am worried we will bear a son. And that my position in the tribe will sink even lower. It is as if the Maker hates me. I feel unloved.”

Grabbing Temon’s hand, Aley whispers, “Why don’t you meet me in our bedroom and I will rectify that situation, hmm?”

Tingles swoop through Temon and his spirits are lifted if only for a minute. He smiles. “You do know how to make me feel better.”

Grabbing onto Temon in a hug, Aley says, “I love you, Temon. Never forget that.”

*****

It is Makana’s desire to revive the old way–that the Creator be the strongest in her tribe. She awaits Kanui for her mana lessons, but he is detained having to fix the pipes in the cellar. This compound groans with age. She hopes to one day renovate the old place.

A horrible wail takes her from these thoughts. She almost laughs at the hopeless scene in front of her.

Poor Temon is literally dying on the treadmill and Aley keeps pulling on heavy weights to no avail.

“Temon, why must you continually burden yourself on these machines. It seems like torture. I believe your talents lie elsewhere. It is obvious you’re not a fighter.”

“With all due respect to your cousin, but it is his brilliant idea to wrought this tired piece of clay into gold. Obviously, his plans are without much intellect. But no one asked me what I am talented at. If they had, I would have told them outright.”

“What are your talents, Temon?” Makana asks. She feels sorry all this time has passed and she really hadn’t gotten to know the newest members of her tribe.

Aley answers for him, “He is brilliant with numbers and with managing. He could have Tribe Wahine running at tip top condition without so many things breaking down. He was Master Slave over the best slave hold in all the Amazon. This was due to his talents, my Creator Heiress.”

Arching an eyebrow, Makana says, “I will keep that in mind then, Aley. In the meantime, I think your talents are best suited for the showers?” She winks.

“Hoo boy, I guess I do stink. Forgive me, princess, I will retire to the bath right away.”

Makana laughs and waves him away. “I think I’m going to have a talk with Kanui about both of your situations.”

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Chapter 6.22 Babies, Babies, Babies!

Brother?” Alena almost spits the word. “I have no other brothers than Vance and Finn. You will die for your insolence, thief!”

“Stand down, Alena!” her mother’s worried voice echoes off the hut’s walls. Mor rushes over to the man. She can’t believe her eyes. “Is it really you, Newlin?”

“Yes, Mother. I’ve left them, finally. I’ve run away from Tribe Wahine.”

Tears come to Mor’s eyes. “My son,” she whispers. “It’s been too long. I’m so happy you’re here.”

Pulling away, she says, “It’s great timing that you’ve arrived. War is upon us as well as our vengeance against that evil Tribe Wahine. But whatever made you change your mind, son? I’m beyond happy at this news, but am a bit confounded. You seemed adamant that you were to stay for the rest of your life.”

Newlin’s face grows solemn. “They made me the lowest of all slaves, Mother. Me. A prince–the grandson of the queen! Their insults against me proved too much. My cousin Kanui, Leah’s son, rules over everyone. It was too much to bear and so, here I am.” Newlin doesn’t wish to divulge the truth. What good would come if his mother knew his folly?

“Your life has been spared, my son, for a curse is about to be fulfilled against Tribe Wahine. I am so thankful you left. But we will talk more about this later.” She waves a hand. “Newlin, meet your younger brothers, Finnegan and Vance. And your younger sister, Alena.” Turning toward her red haired son, she orders, “Finn, give Newlin your room. He’s Master Slave now. You will share with Vance.”

Newlin can’t keep the grin off his face. Master Slave! This is a dream come true!

Mor adds, “I hope your room will be most hospitable for you. It is the best next to Alena’s. I know you’re used to comfort of a rich tribe. We’ve come into a little money, so we will be making improvements.

“Finn and Vance will be building another bedroom since you’re here. And you will supervise their work. Does that sound good to you?”

Newlin is going to be the boss? His happiness almost spills over. “I am beyond grateful, Mother. You are too kind.”

She shakes her head. “Anything for my eldest son who was ripped away from me by Tribe Wahine. Come, chat with me for a while.” Mor takes Newlin by the hand and leads him downstairs to the living room by the fire for it is winter and the cold front has just settled over the land.

Vance gives his brother, Finn, a look. Alena can see her brothers are not pleased by this unwelcome sibling nor by his new status.

Alena does not like it either. She will have to do something about this nuisance. And soon.

*****

Kiko finally has her baby on the same night as Lilit. She names her little boy, Dak, after a great warrior from the jungles before the entrance of the Amazon upon the land. She misses Newlin so much for the boy looks just like him.

Lilit gives birth to two sons, Ale and Alika.

And although Kanui is a bit disappointed one is not a girl, he loves his boys very much. One looks just like him and the other like Lilit. He thanks the Maker for blessing them so richly.

*****

Suns pass and with it, Temon’s irritability only worsens. Why oh why did he leave his pleasant life as the Master Slave of a men-only slave hold? He must have been crazy to follow Mist on this scheme to live with the famous Tribe Wahine. What he found out was a famous tribe has just as much work to do as an insignificant tribe. And this one keeps burgenoning. Now, he’s surrounded by poopy diapers, spit up, and laundry.

Add to it Kanui’s new venture into turning both of them into fighting slaves, and his animosity only grows more. His love, Aley, looks pitiful trying to wrangle those heavy weights. “Why must you do as he says, darling? It’ll only hurt your back. You’ve been at this for moons and there is not even one single sinew growing upon your arms.”

Aley grunts loudly. “It…is…beyond me…to go against…the huge…Master Slave Kanui…my love.”

“Well, you could at least pick up your clothes off the floor and put them in the hamper. My work is never done.” Temon tuts, shaking his head.

“Yes, dear. I’ll do that next time. Sorry.” Aley starts brawling with the leg weights and it looks as if he’s losing.

Temon sighs and picks up the clothes. The laundry is a mountain that grows by the minute. It’s time to tackle the monstrosity. He’s destined for the wash tub, not looking forward to the sweat, suds, and sore muscles.

“Hello, Aley. Hello, Temon.” Kanui the giant blonde oaf walks in. Temon tries not to roll his eyes. “You’re doing great, Aley. Only two more sets! I can see an improvement. Keep it up!”

Improvement? Temon almost lets out a derisive laugh which is only halted by the horrific stench coming from foul smelling gym clothing.

Hopping on the treadmill, Kanui says in his infuriatingly cheery way, “There’s nothing better than a good workout. Right, Aley?”

Aley grunts, “Yes…M-Master Kanui. Arrrrgh.” He barely makes the leg weight rise.

“Oh for Makers sake.” Temon throws up a hand and leaves before he pulls his hair out. Next to the gym is the poop producers’ room. He tries to avoid this part of the compound as if it is infected with typhoid. But unfortunately, Kanui had told him the hampers were full.

He picks up some clothes off the floor right in front of the Provider. Isn’t she supposed to help with the children? In the two suns Temon’s been with the Tribe, he’s never seen this one do any work.

“No, no, that’s quite all right. I don’t need your assistance, madame.” This little bit of sarcasm always helped keep his sanity. Unfortunately, the daft woman doesn’t even look up. “This isn’t your lucky day, Temon,” he mutters to himself.

Adding insult to injury, he’s met with two big blue eyes at the wash tub. “What do you want? Milk? Grilled cheese? Gold? My last will and testament? I’ll tell you this, I have nothing to my name so you might as well run along, little Alika.”

“I pooped.”

“Of course you did.” Where is his mother, Lilit? Probably sitting down to a trough of hamburgers as usual. “Why don’t you find your grandmother, Eila. She’s looking for you!”

Flinging up his hands, he cries, “Yippee!”

Round 1 goes to Temon. At least he did something right today.

After hours of aching labor at the wash tub, Temon is finally ready to hang the clothing.

And although tedious, the breezes send a welcome scent of lemon, clearing his senses. Better to be out here with the laundry than with nine people and six sticky children.

After he hangs the last shirt, he spies Mist’s pretty face. He’s grown fond of her these past suns. He can honestly call her a great friend. She leaves him alone for the most part and never once asked him to fulfill the duty he’d promised to her. He feels a bit guilty for it. Would she request this of him, he would obey wholeheartedly. It’s the least he could repay her for the life with his true love unencumbered by an eventual split. There was no doubt someone would have bought Aley sooner or later and they would have never seen each other again.

Wincing, Mist says, “Temon…can I ask you something?” She points at the ceremonial gong. “Over there?”

Speak of what is to come…Temon’s blood rushes out of his head.

“Temon…my…our Creator is adamant that I procure your services. We are without many daughters. She wishes us…to try.” She gulps.

Of course he would fulfill his duty, but he wants to tease her a bit. “Well…uh…”

“Oh, Temon, I know it’s disgusting to you to be with a woman but it is out of necessity…”

He cannot tease her any longer. Interjecting, he says, “Of course, my mistress. I’ve been wondering what was taking you so long. It will be my honor.”

And although Temon pictures his love Aley in his mind as he performs the act, he cannot say he didn’t enjoy this duty.

Maybe this time, his spawn would add to the poop mountain that he would never clean up, and it might make the task of laundry a bit more satisfying.

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6.21 Home Sweet Home

Kiko’s child weighs heavy, making her joints ache. Already two weeks late, she wonders if she’ll ever give birth.

Turning around, she spies the Creator Heiress staring at her.

“What is it, child? Did you need me to do something for you?” Kiko asks.

“I just wanted to let you know you don’t have to worry. You won’t be cursed once I become the Creator.”

Waving her arms Kiko explains, “It’s not up to you, little one. I have broken the sacred laws. The curse cannot be lifted. Even by you as a Creator. Didn’t Mist explain all of this to you?” Mist’s absence has really put Makana’s education at risk.

Cocking her head, Makana answers, “I don’t believe in curses, so you don’t have to worry.”

Kiko shakes her head. “Makana, you could get yourself and this tribe in trouble if you don’t abide by Amazon law. Your great grandmother was chosen by the Maker as well as her council to create laws for us to follow. You may think them unfair but if you want change, you must seek out the queen. I do not want to be the cause of shame falling down upon our tribe. Please don’t say such things.”

But the little princess only smirks at Kiko then saunters away. Kiko takes a plate of food, thinking to herself. “That child! She’s so headstrong. She may be the folly of us all!” She decides to pray to the Maker, asking for an abundance of mercy for she can see they all are going to need it.

******

Lilit is swelling with twins. Kanui worries for his mate. She can barely move and is always in a bad mood. He decides to take her to the jungle village park where the flowers are in bloom this time of year.

“Oh, Kanui, it’s simply amazing!” Lilit gushes. “The smell alone puts a smile on my face.”

“The flowers cast a glow about you, my love. I’m so glad you like it. Nothing makes me happier.” His mate really does look so beautiful under the pink lights.

Staring sweetly at him, Lilit asks, “What do you wish to name our children, Kanui? I’ve been thinking a lot about it and I want you to name them. You are the Master Slave, after all, and I wish to bestow this special gift. You treat me with such honor and love. I’m so happy.”

Leaning toward her, he whispers, “It is my honor just to have been chosen by you. But if you wish to give me a gift, I will not throw it away. If they are boys, Ahe, which means gentle breeze for I would wish him to be gentle in his strength. And the other boy will be Alika, which means guardian, for our tribe will need strong tribal sons who will guard our great tribe.”

“I like those names very much. But what if they’re girls, my love? What should we call them?”

Taking her hand, he says, “Since they will be as beautiful as their mother, I think we should name one Kaliko which means beautiful bird and the other, Keao, which means light of the morning sun.”

With that, Kanui kisses Lilit sending butterflies through her. She adores him. How lucky is she that the Maker gave him to her!

A sudden twinge pokes her back. “I think I need to find a bathroom.”

“Of course. I’ll wait here,” Kanui says, smiling.

As she waddles toward the outdoor restrooms, a knife seems to stab her in the back. “Oh no! I think the twins are coming!”

********

Mist brings home not one slave, but two! Kalani asks Runoi to greet them and show them around. Alethualpa or Aley for short, takes right to the babies and asks if he can help the Provider. Eila is thrilled.

Temon is a different story. Kalani tells Runoi that the man is a bit of a curmudgeon and might have a harder time adjusting. With Runoi’s wit, Kalani thinks he might be able to draw the man out of his shell.

Shaking Temon’s hand vigorously, Runoi says, “Welcome, dear Temon, to the great Tribe Wahine where queens are born and legends arise. I am very pleased to make your acquaintance. I’m the Creator’s mate, Runoi Iki. Just let me know how I can help you get settled here in this rather large compound. If there’s a special dish you’d like me to cook, please feel free to suggest. The women of this tribe do allow us men to have a say in the menu.” Runoi winks at him, hoping to melt the already cool vibes he’s feeling from the man.

Temon wonders why this slave is chattering at him like a squirrel taunting a dog. Mist is a lovely woman and he very much is grateful to her for allowing him to take his love with him, but to endure someone like this Runoi, well, he isn’t sure it will be worth it. His nerves are already screaming at him. Maybe if he makes it clear he is to be left alone. “Thank you, Runoi. I am most pleased to be here. If you could show me my quarters, I would be most obliged.”

The red haired man answers, “Well, Temon, my already great friend, I’m about to make our dinner. Slave quarters are all the way on the other side of the compound on the second floor. You cannot miss them. But why don’t you get acquainted with one of the little ones? Hoku, my lovely daughter, is ready for someone to read her a story. I cannot for I am too busy but here you are with a voice as rich as any songbird. Would you do that for me, old chap?”

“I…erm…despise children.” Maybe that was a bit harsh but how is Temon supposed to get through to a person such as this? The nerve that he’d think Temon, a former Master Slave, would take on helping with the children. Give him a toilet to clean or a fence to mend.

Runoi’s smile turns to a frown. “I did NOT just hear you say that, did I, good man? All tribal members help with the children. We are a family after all. Or do you think you’re above all its members? If so, please, take it up to our Creator. I think she would very much be interested in this attitude.”

The threat rings in Temon’s ears.

“Fine.” Temon flops onto the couch, eyeing a particularly chubby baby girl who is staring at him like she wants to sit in his lap. Temon can already feel how sticky she’ll make his skirt. He’d have to wash it right away after this unseemly duty.

Inching closer to him, the little girl says nothing making Temon nervous. “What is it you want from me…child?”

“Read this.” She plops a book in his lap.

Sighing, Temon opens it and starts to read. “Once upon a time, before the time of the Amazon, there was a dinosaur named Moondogle. All Moondogle wished for was a friend.”

“Will you be my friend?” the sticky little child asks him.

A slight smile works itself on the edge of Temon’s mouth. Maybe he could endure this one child, Hoku, but no others. He would be adamant about that.

********

Finally, the Rigan Tribe arrives home. Alena feels like they’ve been away for too long. But the hair stands up on the back of her neck. Something’s wrong.

“Mother…we have an intruder. Do you see what I do? There’s male clothing hanging out to dry on a line, and that damned cowplant has been recently fed. I thought the viscious thing would be nothing but bones by now. I hate that plant.”

Finnegan’s stomach jolts. “Those are MY clothes on the line. The thief is very brave indeed.”

“I’ll handle this,” Alena sneers. “You stay here. I’ll bring you his head as a prize, brother.”

Stealthy as a cougar, Alena skulks into the kitchen, catching the intruder. Readying her weapon to slice off his head, she says, “Give me your last words before I cut you down. Why are you here? You better not lie. I can make your death very painful.”

Heart in his throat, Newlin raises his hands. “Please do not kill me. I am your dear lost brother, Newlin!”

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Chapter 6.20 New Slaves

In just a few short minutes, Lash spills every detail about the sad illness that struck his family tribe and more than once he mentions that he was a Creator’s son. He is a beautiful man who should go to a mate that adores him. Mist does not wish to make an attachment as the other women in Tribe Wahine. She doesn’t wish to upset him. Maybe he would be fine with the arrangement?

“Lash, what are your thoughts on attending me as a breeding slave?”

Without glancing up, the man answers, “I have been trained fully, my lady. I will make you happy if that’s what you’re concerned about.”

Her words were too vague. Shifting in her seat, she says, “What I mean is…I have no wish to bond. Once I conceive, it will be my right to sell you to another tribe. What are your thoughts?”

His countenance falls. “I…er…that is your right indeed. But if you want my opinion on the matter, I would be very downcast as I’ve heard of Tribe Wahine and wish to be a part of it. I’d work very hard. If you would give me a chance, Lady Mist, I won’t let you down.”

“Thank you for your honesty, Lash. I like you very much, and I don’t doubt you’d make a fine addition to our tribe, but…I think it would be best if I chose someone else.”

Anger colors his eyes as he makes a curt nod, turning to leave without another word.

Mist feels sorry to hurt his pride but this is for the best. Now…she wonders if she’ll be able to find a slave who would wish for this arrangement. Are all slaves these days wanting relationships? Times have changed since Queen Hawika took the throne.

She picks her way toward the front of the slave hold, finding the Master Slave yet again. “Lash will not work for me, Master Temon. I need a breeding slave who doesn’t wish for attachments. Can you help me?”

Flipping his hands to his shoulders, he says, “Your wish is my command, winter princess. Any one of the slaves sitting by the fire will do whatever you wish.

“Forgive me if I thought you wanted permanence in your slave. But these men will do their duty once or however many times it takes.” He winks.

Mist walks over to the circle of men once again, but the cute face of the master slave won’t leave her. There must be some way to convince him to come with her. But what?

She thinks through her interactions with him and something remarkable hits her. She’s got a hunch on what might please him. It is only a hunch though. If she’s wrong, she could embarrass herself and the slave but it’s worth a chance.

Finding his office, she watches as he writes in an accounting booklet. “You’re a very efficient person, I see.”

“Mmm, yes, I find keeping track of the slave hold’s finances comforting.” Not looking up from his task, he asks, “How may I help you, my lady?”

Lifting an eyebrow, she says, “I want to make an offer you cannot refuse. Come with me to Tribe Wahine. We could use a slave with your skills.”

Closing his booklet, he says, “Madame, I do not wish to grieve your spirit, but I regretfully and with much honor must refuse your request. Of course it is your right to command me, but it will be against my wishes.”

‘What if I said you could bring…a friend?”

Temon’s eyes widen, understanding the underlying implications. “A friend…that is…an odd request. What do you mean by it?”

“Merely that I wish to make you comfortable. I am in no need of a man in my life and it seems you are in no need of a woman. Am I correct? If I’m not, please forgive my rudeness.”

“You are serious!” A smile swishes over his face. “Yes! I do have a friend I would like to bring. You wouldn’t tease me now would you?”

“I am not a viscious woman. I do not tease the nice man who will be my child’s future father.”

Suddenly, a slave steps into the office. “Your breakfast is ready, Temon.” Then he looks at Mist with suspicious eyes.

Temon announces, “Lady Mist, may I present, Alethualpa Tupaq. My friend. Aley, please meet our newest mistress. We’re going to Tribe Wahine!”

Elation floods his eyes. “Together?”

Mist grins inside, patting herself on the back for guessing correctly. And she’s bringing home two slaves. Won’t her Creator be happy about that?

*****

A wave of nausea hits Lilit. The worst part of pregnancy is all the weight she’s put on and the sickness.

Her mother asks, “Are you well, Lilit? Please sit down and rest.”

Scooping her hands to his lips, Kanui kisses them, making her forget her troubles. He’s been the most attentive mate throughout this ordeal. She hates pregnancy with a passion. She hopes the babe is a girl for she doesn’t want another one.

Anger floods Kiko. How dare they display their happiness when she’s about to give birth to Newlin’s child? Every day underscores her misery. She misses Newlin so much.

She stalks away. Only a few more moons and she’ll have her baby to keep her company. Maybe that will distract her from her troubles.

*****

“There you are,” Kalani says as she finds Runoi dancing with the toddlers and Kanui. “Isn’t it supper time, my love?”

“It is indeed, my rosy queen. The roast is almost done. In the oven as we speak. But these little ones have been giving Lilit headaches, and you know she’s a bit under the weather these days. They are in need of working off all their wiggles. Come join us!”

“And make a fool of myself? No thank you. I’ll leave all the dancing to you, my love. You’re so good at it, I’ll amuse myself by watching.”

“Well, in that case…” Runoi shows off by gyrating, shaking his derrière in front of her, making her laugh.

Then Britta copies him. “That’s how you shake it, sweet girl!” he jokes.

Kalani swells with pride watching Runoi with the little ones. He’s such a perfect mate. He’s always surprising her with how much he cares for every member of the tribe.

As the sun sets, Kalani smiles at the beautiful antics of her tribal family. She feels the blessing of the Maker wholeheartedly and is very thankful.

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