Chapter 6.15 Confessions

The sickness only grows worse for Kiko. She can’t even make it to the bathroom when she wretches in the bushes.

It is no better for Newlin. Kiko will not speak to him let alone allow him to touch her. It’s like he’s been banished already.

But he would not allow those dismal thoughts to worry him further. He is going to take Kiko away with him in a few weeks once her sickness subsides.

But things are so bad between them, he wonders if she’ll go away with him when the time comes. Tingles prick the edges of his eyes and he blinks back tears. He will not be sad about this, he angrily tells himself. Kiko will come. He’ll reason with her.

But the morose thoughts needle him so much that he floats through the compound in a zombie like state, not noticing anything or anyone.

“Hello, Newlin. I’m about to put the toddlers down. Would you like to come?” Elue asks. “I know you love tucking them in bed.”

Newlin scowls to himself in answer. Elue thinks he must have been scolded by Kanui again and shrugs.

Newlin is so wrapped up in his thoughts that he doesn’t realize he’s about to sit next to Lilit whom he hates the most in the tribe. He cannot stand her insipid remarks and her blathering on and on about Kanui’s merits.

“Well, well, if it isn’t the laziest slave on the planet,” Lilit says with a glare. “What are you here for, Newlin? You want me to watch the little ones again? I think it’s their bedtime.”

But even Lilit’s nasty remarks don’t register. He simply shakes his head and stares off in the distance—behavior Lilit has never seen before from Newlin. She wonders what’s wrong.

******

In the middle of the night, Kalani wakes to the muffled sound of crying.

She opens her eyes to see Makana, shaking, tears shimmering on her face.

“Sweetheart, what’s wrong?” Kalani asks, rising up.

“I…um…I’m worried about something and I can’t sleep.”

Scooping her up, Kalani asks, “What are you worried about, sweetie? Maybe Daddy and I could help.”

Runoi wakes up startled. He rubs Makana’s back. “Rose petal, do tell us. Parents can always help you.”

Shaking her head, Makana cries, “I’m scared to tell.”

Kalani shoots a worried look at Runoi. Her mind whirs at what could possibly be bothering her daughter so much.

Smiling, Runoi pulls Makana toward him and says, “Of course we can help. Did you know parents are the best solution people on the earth? Our dear Maker created us for this heavenly duty especially. You can count on that, my sweet rosy baby. Now, why don’t you run along to your room and you can have a chat with Mommy, all right? She’s the Creator of this tribe, after all, and she solves all kinds of problems daily. Trust me on this.” He winks.

Makana lifts the side of her mouth and nods.

“That’s a good girl.” Runoi pats her shoulder.

Kalani marvels at the wisdom of her mate. Makana is getting to the age of womanhood. She may be having her monthly cycle and wouldn’t want to share in front of him. She remembers her first time and how scary it was. She kisses Runoi then follows her daughter to her room.

Quietly, Kalani sits next to Makana on her bed. “Now we’re all alone. What is it you wish to tell me, sweetheart?”

Wincing, she pulls into herself and says, “I don’t know, Mommy. He might get mad at me.”

“Who might get mad at you?” Kalani asks, caressing her arm, mind scrolling as to whom might be hurting Makana. Her mind goes to unthinkable places.

But Makana only shakes her head.

“Makana, who is it?” she asks in a harsher but hushed tone. “Who’s making you so upset? You’ve gone this far. I know you want to tell me so please do, sweetheart, so I can help you.”

Grabbing her mother, she whispers, “Oh, Mommy, I’m so afraid Kiko and Newlin are going to run away. They said so. I heard them.”

“You must have heard wrong, sweetie. Why would they run away? That doesn’t make any sense. Neither of them are in trouble. In fact, they seem very happy.”

“They’re not because I heard. I know.”

“You know what?”

Makana sniffles, taking a few deep breaths. She whispers, “Kiko is going to have a baby.”

Kalani’s stomach lurches at this news.

It took an hour to calm Makana down. In fact, her cries woke up her baby sister, Hoku, so Kalani and Runoi slept with their toddler for the rest of the night.

“She is a handful, isn’t she?” Runoi asks as the tot wanders down the hallway toward the kitchen.

“That’s the least of our worries. Oh, Runoi. Do you think I’m making the right decision?”

“Darling, if you don’t follow the rules then your power will slip and your tribe will not respect you. Kiko and Newlin knew what they were doing when they chose the wrong path. This I know all too well as I was quite the ladies’ man back when I was a teen and more than one Amazon tried to woo me. But I knew what honor meant. And so, I would not allow any temptations. Newlin has always been a careless brat, sorry to say that of your brother. He’ll survive, though. That’s one thing about him. He’s resilient. Like a cockroach, that one.”

Kalani would have laughed if this wasn’t so serious.

A Creator has the most important job of all the tribe and it is at these kinds of moments Kalani wishes the duty would have fallen onto someone else. How can she give this sentence to her own brother? And the look on Ina’s face when she will have to tell her of the news…Kalani feels the sorrow deep in her marrow. If this were to happen to her own daughters? Kalani doesn’t want to imagine that awful prospect.

Forcing a stoic face, Kalani finds Kanui.

“Good morning, Creator,” Kanui says, smiling. “It’s a lovely day outside, isn’t it?”

Kalani doesn’t have time for pleasantries. She orders, “Find Kiko and Newlin and have them meet me at the fire pit in ten minutes. Not a minute more. And bring Horus with you. I want both of you to stand guard.”

Bowing, Kanui says, “At once, Creator.”

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6.14 Secrets

Newlin looks up to see someone spying on them. “Uh oh.”

“What is it?” Kiko asks.

“It’s Makana.”

They both pull away from each other quickly.

“H-Hello, Makana. What brings you out here?” Kiko says with a worried look on her face.

Arching an eyebrow, Makana retorts, “I want to ask you the same thing. Mother is looking for you two. We are to eat a feast for Kandor.”

“Thank you for the reminder, but you can run along,” Kiko says. “We’ll be there on time.”

After Makana doesn’t move, Kiko cocks her head and asks, “Why aren’t you leaving?”

“Say it isn’t true. You and Uncle Newlin aren’t going to run away, are you?”

The two exchange looks that makes Makana’s heart sink.

Newlin waves a hand. “Of course not, you silly ninny. Now let us go eat a feast and stop talking foolishness.”

Makana doesn’t know if she should believe her uncle. She could have sworn she heard them making plans to escape to her evil great aunt’s tribe. But she doesn’t want to seem silly in the eyes of her uncle. “O-Okay then. Come on.”

*****

After the feast is over and Makana eats her fill of lobster thermidore, broccoli cheese rice, mountains of green beans, and cake, the adults head to the garden where the slaves make a bonfire. Everyone is in good spirits. Even her father pulls out his fire dancing kit, something Makana always begs him to do, but he says he’ll only dance when there’s a special reason.

But Makana’s heart is too full of what she’s overheard to be filled with the excitement of the celebration.

She decides not to think about it. If Uncle Newlin lied about what she’d heard, he must have had a good reason. So, she picks up some sticks and plays with the flickering flames, trying to take her mind off foolish things.

“Hello, my rosy princess,” her father greets her. “Did you like my greatly magnificent dancing? I did it especially for you!”

But Makana doesn’t even look up at her father. Something is wrong, he thinks. But what? Runoi rolls over the day when he’s seen his daughter and nothing seemed amiss. Maybe she has a stomach ache.

“Aw…did my sweet sunshine in the rain eat too much of my wonderful delicious meal? Maybe I should fix up a tonic. That might make you feel a bit better, hmm?”

Looking as if she might cry, Makana says, “I’m fine, Daddy, really. Don’t worry about me.”

“Makana,” Runoi says like she’s in trouble. “You know Daddy doesn’t like it when you keep secrets. Tell me what’s troubling you.”

Should she tell her father? Maybe he’ll know what to do. But then if she does, what if her uncle gets upset with her? She’d feel awful. She has to make up something quick. “I…I skinned my knee at school today and it hurts. That’s all, Daddy. Honest.”

Relief washes over Runoi. “Is that all? Well, why don’t I kiss it to make it feel better? And then I’ll read you a bedtime story. It’s getting late and you need your rest.”

Makana makes a face. “Kissing boo boos is for babies, Daddy. I’m nearly ten suns old!”

“Then how about a peck on the cheek?”

Giggling, Makana lifts her face to receive her father’s kiss. “Okay.”

After he kisses her, Runoi lifts Makana on his shoulders. “We haven’t done this in a while. Will you bet me I can run with you on my back all the way upstairs to your bedroom?”

Makana laughs. “You can’t do that, Daddy. I’m too heavy.”

“Are you saying I’m a weak slave? I’ll show you I’m very strong indeed. Watch!”

Giggling in his ear, Makana cheers as Runoi runs, josling her up and down like a pony she’s ridden at the village market.

After reading a story, Runoi tucks Makana in. She seems in good spirits as she settles down to sleep. “That’s my darling Creator heiress. Sleep tight,” he whispers.

As Runoi’s about to leave, his other daughter stops him in his tracks.

He picks her up. “My, what are you doing out of bed, Hoku? Did no one put you down? I’m very sorry about that.”

Hoku shakes her head. “I’m not sleepy.”

“Of course you are, my little cinnamon bun. We just have to get you dressed and the sandman will dust you, making you very drowsy.”

True to his word, Hoku doesn’t fuss as he kisses her good night for she is a very tired tot.

Children all tucked away for the night, Runoi makes his way down to the fire, but something is troubling him.

Kalani notices instantly. “What is it, my love? Why are you making that face?”

He sighs as he drapes his arm over Kalani. “I’m worried about Makana. She lied to me today. There’s something wrong that she’s trying to hide. Maybe you should have a chat with her about it tomorrow. She wouldn’t tell me tonight, but I think she’d talk to you.”

Kalani nods as she folds her arms, wondering what Makana could possibly hide. The thought put a damper on the rest of the night for the Creator of Tribe Wahine.

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6.13 Changes

Newlin’s sweetheart is so sad. He wonders what might have happened. Maybe she got into a fight with Lilit. Wouldn’t be surprising seeing how that girl never lifts a finger to help in the tribe unless someone hunts her down and asks. “Hey…would you like to walk near the creek later on today after training? Maybe I can take your mind off your worries.”

She sighs loudly. “No, Newlin, that’s the last thing I want to do.”

She must be angry with him, he thinks, but what did he do? His mind races, but he comes up with nothing. “Darling, what is it? Did I upset you somehow?”

Instead of answering, she races away from him, running toward the rock alcove to a dead end where she stops, turning her face so he cannot see it. He follows, bewildered on what to do next. She is definitely upset with him. But why?

Suddenly, she breaks into sobs, her body shuddering with every breath. He can’t stay away. He must comfort her.

“Kiko, my darling…what’s wrong? Please tell me! If I’ve caused you pain somehow, I’m very sorry. I’ll do better next time, just let me know what it is.”

Her voice warbling through tears, she cries, “It’s…nothing you can do now. You can’t help. It’s…just…I’m afraid.”

Cradling her in his arms, Newlin wipes away her tears, looking into her eyes. “You’re scaring me now. Tell me! What’s wrong?”

Taking a deep breath, Kiko confesses, “I think I’m pregnant.”

This news knocks the wind out of him. He pulls her even closer. “Are you sure? We’ve been very careful. I don’t see how…”

She cuts him off. “Yes, I’m quite sure. I’ve got the sickness. I can feel it. I’ve been cursed. We shouldn’t have done this wicked thing.”

Newlin sighs, looking away, mind spinning on what to do next. If this news is true, they both are doomed.

Wrapping her arms around Newlin, trying to seek comfort, she adds, “I won’t be the Champion of this tribe…I’ll be stripped of any honor and you…” Kiko gulps. “We’re in so much trouble, Newlin. My heart is broken. We should have waited. Only two more suns!”

Kiko cries again as Newlin’s heart squeezes in his chest. He hates that he didn’t wait. He knew it was folly, but…he just couldn’t stop himself. He feels the sting of his guilt bitterly. “Shh…” Newlin whispers, trying to calm his love. “I’ll think of something, darling. There might be a way out of all this.”

“But how? There’s no way out. We’re going to be left without honor. Shunned. Paying pennance for this crime for the rest of our lives.”


Pulling her even closer to him, he says, “No…we can seek sanctuary with my mother. She’ll take us in. Mark my words. There, we’ll be able to live in her tribe with honor. Never fear, my love. We’ll get through this.”

But instead of agreeing with his plan, Kiko sobs into his shoulder making him feel helpless at the situation. He could only hope his mother would allow them sanctuary. He knows she’s even more conservative on Amazon law than Tribe Wahine. His best bet is to play on her hatred for the tribe. It would be like spitting in their face if Mor would accept an underage pregnancy.

It is a gamble he will have to take.

*****

Kalani smiles with the deepest respect and pride at her friend, Kandor. He has been especially chosen by Queen Hawika to lead the Royal Army of Slaves.

“It is with much regret but with the deepest honor that we part with you, my dear friend,” Kalani pronounces next to the tribal gong.

Kandor beams. “I am filled with sadness to leave you as well, my Creator. This has been the most special home I’ve ever known. That is due to your sweet face and charming smiles.”

“Hey, now, friend,” Runoi interjects, “that’s MY sweet face and those are MY charming smiles. Let’s not forget that.”

Everyone chuckles at Runoi’s joke.

“Yes, of course, my friend Runoi,” Kandor says, smiling.

Kalani takes a present she’s hidden away from under the bushes. “The tribe wishes to bestow this gift upon you, Kandor, for your service here and so you will not forget which tribe you belong to as we will welcome you back after this sad war is over.”

“Thank you, dear Creator,” Kandor says as he receives the blue package.

Opening it, his eyes widen. “These must be worth a lot. How can I accept something of this value, my Creator?”

“They are the earrings my great grandfather Haipo wore as the first Master Slave of our Tribe. He was a good man and as Kanui doesn’t wish to wear them, I want to pass them onto you.”

“I will wear them with honor, my Creator.” Kandor bows graciously.

“All right, all right, now the sappiness is over, how about everyone come and eat my delicious feast I’ve slaved over for the past seven hours, eh?”

Kalani laughs and gives Kandor a hug, ending the ceremony, looking forward to the celebration dinner.

As the adults gather around the huge dining room table, Kalani asks Makana to find Kiko and Newlin. They’re to attend the feast in honor of Kandor.

Makana searches everywhere, but they’re not in their usual spots. This time of day they should be in the gym, training. But then she spies someone at the rock alcove and she sprints to find them.

When the two come into view, she stops in her tracks.

Her mouth hangs open at what she hears the two confess to one another.

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6.12 Back Home

Ever since Kiko came home from training in the jungle mountains, she’s been acting very strangely. Ina wants to get to the bottom of it. “What truly happened at the falls, my daughter? I’ve heard rumor that you have been seeing Newlin in a romantic light. You do realize your young adult birthday is suns away. It’s not time to choose a mate.”

At this, Kiko burst out laughing. “Oh, Mother, you do jest! Newlin? I think of him as I would any slave whom I grew up with.”

Blood rushes to Kiko’s cheeks. She hates lying to her mother, especially when only yesterday as everyone had gone into the local village for supplies, Newlin talked her into having a romantic time in the spa.

As Newlin slipped off Kiko’s top in his sexy way, Kiko cried, “Newlin, we cannot be like this at our compound. It’s folly. Someone will catch us.”

Caressing her chin, he tutted, “You do realize there is no one here. All are adventuring at the village market. I personally watched the lot of them, saying I would keep a careful watch of our grounds. Now will you stop worrying, darling?”

He wrapped himself around Kiko, sending flurries through her. “Just worry about me.”

And as usual, Kiko gave into him, hating herself for falling so hard. But she couldn’t help it. He had a way that always made her feel special. She truly loved him with all her heart.

Coming back to the present, Kiko giggles even more trying to squash that memory and says, “You’re being a silly worry wart, Mother. Newlin is my training partner. Nothing more.”

Ina eyes her daughter, not sure if she should believe her, but she hasn’t witnessed anything more than friendship between Kiko and Newlin. Maybe what Eila heard wasn’t true. Her daughter, Lilit, was apt to make up idle stories and create drama. “Very well, if you say so. Come, let’s sit and chat then. Tell me all about your trip.”

As Kiko tries to talk about everything EXCEPT her romantic escapades with Newlin, Horus walks up to them.

“Hello, Kiko! Are you ready to spar with me? I heard from Newlin that you’re almost as good as he is.” He winks.

At this, Kiko jumps up and starts to laugh hysterically. “Oh…hee hee…me? As good as Newlin? Ha ha…he must be joking…ha ha.”

Ina is even more surprised by this reaction. “Kiko, that wasn’t a funny comment. Why are you laughing? And Horus, my love, why are you joining in with her?”

“Because, sweetheart, her laughing is making me laugh.”

Kiko doubles over, laughing even harder, bewildering Ina even more.

*****

On the other side of the compound, Newlin is playing with Hoku. He loves his little niece–she’s so full of spunk. Even more than her sister, Makana, was at her age.

“Would you like some juice, little Hoku? Uncle Newlin can get you some if you’re thirsty.”

“Juice! I want juice!”

“Please?” Newlin reminds her of her manners.

“Pwease?”

“Your wish is my command, princess. Come then and hold my hand.” As Newlin waits for Hoku to get to her feet, his sister, Kalani appears.

“Newlin, you’re so sweet to watch Hoku for me, but Kanui needs you in the slave’s quarters. There’s a toilet that’s exploding right now.”

“Of course there is,” Newlin mutters under his breath. He plasters on a smile and says, “It would be my pleasure. The little princess is all yours.”

Kalani adds, “And could you fetch Lilit for me? She can take over babysitting duties. I have to get ready for a ceremony. Sadly, we must say good-bye to Kandor this afternoon.”

Newlin bows in reverence then trods off in search of the silly Lilit. He knows just where to find her. She is usually either in the kitchen eating, bothering Kanui, or snacking in a lounge chair on the deck.

As he predicts, he spies Lilit wolfing down some grilled cheese near the pond.

“Dearest Lilit, I hate to break you away from all the hard work you seem to be doing, but our Creator wishes for you to do your mother’s job in watching over Hoku. She’s in front of the compound.”

Lilit cannot stand Newlin and his tone makes her want to spit venom, but she knows Creator Kalani would not welcome a fight in the middle of the compound. Instead of lashing out as she wishes, she glares at the impudent slave and says, “Of course,” through gritted teeth. “I’ll come at once.”

The cute girl was playing in the road. Not a good place for any toddler. “My goodness, why are you out here, little one?” Lilit picks up the princess.

“Would you like to play in your playhouse?”

“Yay!” cries Hoku.

Lilit smiles. “That’s what I thought.”

*****

Kiko is not feeling well. Her stomach queasy, she worries something is wrong with her. But what could it be?

And then the words of their Shaman Mist rings in her ears. She gave a speech when Kiko was ten suns old. “It is forbidden for any amazon to couple with a slave until it is the time of her choosing. For with it, you could bear a child and that is taboo until your young adult birthday. Beware, young Kiko. Do not get too close to a man until then.”

Kiko grabs her stomach as she walks down the Hall of the Creators. Each pair of eyes seem to stare at her as she passes them.

“Oh dear Maker! Please don’t let it be so!” she prays.

As she makes her way to the training room, her insides prickle at the sight of her lover. Not wanting to face him, she slips past, hoping he won’t notice her.

“My darling, is it time for training already? I will meet you later, dear. I must wrangle a toilet at the moment.”

At the sound of Newlin’s voice, Kiko breaks down. “Newlin. We must talk.”

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6.11 Surprises

Kanui sighs, thinking about Kiko in the arms of that brat Newlin. The couple made it very apparent their excitement for one another over the past few weeks, and Kanui has no doubt Kiko will ask Newlin to be her mate. The contest for her heart is over.

“Why should Newlin always get what he wants?” Kanui asks the Maker in a little prayer. He never does what he’s supposed to. When chores are to be done, Kanui is constantly needling him to finish. When special ceremonies occur, someone must find Newlin and beg him to come. When Runoi cooks a delicious dessert, Newlin is first in line for his portion. Why do evil people always succeed while someone like Kanui gets the leftovers.

It isn’t fair.

Speaking of leftovers, before Kanui can finish his internal rant, Lilit settles in next to him, giving Kanui a jolt.

“Hello, handsome. Waiting to go to the temple?”

Kanui cocks his head. “The temple? I thought we were doing that tomorrow. It’s a little late at night, my lady. There are jungle creatures that prowl in the evening.” That’s a bit farfetched, Kanui knows, but he doesn’t want to spend most of his night listening to Lilit’s incessant flirting and constant babble.

“Nonsense, slave. It’s barely dusk. We have all night!” She grasps his hand and bounces out the door, chattering about all the treasures they might find.

Kanui tries hard not to roll his eyes. He decides to renew his attitude. Maybe he could have fun. He does like interesting artifacts and myths. And he’d been putting off going to the temple for two weeks when finally he acquiesced that day to do it the following morning. A few hours earlier isn’t going to change anything.

The temple turned out to be the most interesting building Kanui had ever seen. The ancient amazons were a superstitious people, believing in supernatural powers from the darkness, something Kanui had only heard about from campfire stories the slaves would tell each other at night.

“What do you think this does, Kanui?” Lilit asks, pulling him out of his thoughts.

“I wouldn’t touch that, my lady,” Kanui warns.

But Lilit being Lilit, she doesn’t listen to him. “Fibblefobble, Kanui. There’s a perfect hand sized hole here.”

“What’s this?” she cries. “Is it going to give me treasure?”

The obelisk moans, spewing sand at Lilit. “Oh no!”

Kanui laughs, he cannot hold back. The look on her face is priceless.

“Do you not know it’s impolite to laugh at one’s folly, Kanui?” Lilit chides.

Arching an eyebrow, Kanui retorts, “I was not laughing at you, my dearest lady. It’s just…your face was too charming. Try it again!”

“You wish me to fail anew? I think not. But I believe there are more treasures to be had. This one blunder doesn’t have to be my last.”

Kanui laughs again. To his surprise, Lilit could be quite funny.

Bowing, Kanui says, “After you, my lady.”

And she was right. She did fail again.

“Lilit, back away from that thing,” Kanui yells. “Its red face means doom!”

“Oh my Maker!” Lilit cries, shuddering.

Kanui rushes over. “Are you well, my lady?” He didn’t see anything come out of the statue, just red light.

Lilit rubs her face and says, “I think I’m done with these ancient creations, Kanui. They just don’t like me.”

“I don’t think it has anything to do whether the things ‘like’ you, Lilit. They’re probably meant to ward off thieves.”

Waving an arm, she says, “That’s not true. My mother told me of a time my father went to this very spot and was blessed with many treasures. But I am not blessed by the Maker. I’m just an unlucky, ugly girl with no special qualities. I know you’re just here with me because I made you go with me. You’ve made that very clear. But I thank you for putting up with me. In the future, I won’t bother you anymore. Let’s go, Kanui. I’m done with this place.”

Guilt pricks Kanui’s heart. She is right. She did force him to come, but he never gave her a chance in the past. “Lilit, I’m sorry. I’ve been a horse’s ass. I promise I am having a good time, and I’m delighted with your company.”

Her eyes widen as she fiddles with her fingers. “You…are?”

Nodding, he says, “Come. Let’s leave this foreboding place. I saw a nice quiet area near a beautiful pond in the gardens.” Taking Lilit by the hand, they hike down a few flights of steps and then Kanui stops as the sun sets behind the clouds. “Does this place make you feel better, Lilit?”

Flopping her arms around Kanui’s shoulders, Lilit gives him a sly smile and nods.

“Lilit…” Kanui says, heart pounding. “What are you doing?”

“I’m going to kiss you, silly. Pucker up!”

Kanui chuckles to himself, not believing he is actually falling for Lilit’s charms.

*****

Breathing hard, Kiko has just defeated Newlin in a battle match for the first time in all these weeks of training. Her mastery of mana is growing stronger with each passing day. She feels she is ready to become the Champion of her tribe, and she has her love to thank.

Without a word, Newlin jerks his head for her to come near him by the roaring falls.

Once she meets with him, it’s as if the air is filled with electric fire. The two cannot hold back any longer. His lips are more urgent than Kiko has ever felt before–fierce, pressing like he’s wanting her as much as she wants him.

She feels the smoothness of his neck, smells the rich, musky scent of his skin. He pulls her closer until they are body to body.

Fear creeps into Kiko’s heart because she knows she’s already gone too far.

But she doesn’t care.

There, in the cover of darkness, with the mist of the waterfall raining down on them, Kiko’s heart is filled with her lover. She would not think about the consequences for all she desires is Newlin.

*****

“I did it, Mommy!” Hoku cries, waving her hands in such a cute way. Kalani wouldn’t trade seeing this for all the tribes in the Amazon.

“You sure did, sweetheart! We must tell Daddy.”

“I’m a big girl now.”

“You’re an Amazon princess who can go in the big girl potty. I’m so proud of you.”

“Wee!”

Most Creators would never sully their hands training their children like this. That was the Provider’s job, but Elui was not herself ever since she lost her mate, Ricci, and honestly, the Creator Heiress, Makana, was left to her own devices without much supervision when she was little. Kalani was not going to make that mistake with Hoku. She wanted to find a new Provider but couldn’t do that to Elui. She’d served this tribe for so long. Hopefully, in a few moons, she’d allow Elui’s daughter, Lilit, to step in and “help” all the while Lilit would actually be the “new” Provider and Kalani would find another position for Elui to fulfill.

Placing Hoku with her toys in the living room, the mouth watering scent of blackened fish drifted through the air. “What are you cooking, my love?” Kalani asks.

“Horus went to the stream this morning and caught our supper. Wasn’t that nice of him, my rosy darling?”

“I never knew Horus to be a fisherman. I thought he liked only his plants.”

“Well, I gave him a rod and reel and he couldn’t refuse me now could he? I’m hard to resist when I’m demanding.” Runoi shot her a sultry look which only made Kalani laugh.

“I won’t disagree, my love,” Kalani says, eyeing Runoi with adoration. “You are indeed hard to resist.”

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Chapter 6.10 The Choice

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”.

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.

*****

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Chapter 6.9 A Change of Power

Suddenly, Kiko blinks, trying to pull herself away from the slave.

“What am I doing?” she whispers.

“Kissing me, darling,” Newlin breathes, teasing his warm lips on hers.

It was like some unseen force has put her in a trance, making her forget all the infractions he’s done against her when she was young. She’d loved him so much when she was a child but he used her abominably, playing tricks on her.

Now, she only thinks of him as a friend.

Recoiling, she cries, “No!” and pushes him backward.

“Darling, what’s wrong?”

Kiko can still feel his lips on hers. She doesn’t want to admit she liked it. There is something about Newlin she’s always been attracted to even when she was little. “What have you done?” she accuses. “Put a spell on me? This place…it enhances mana but does it do other things, too?” Her heart speeds up.

Cradling Kiko in his arms, his warmth surrounds her and she caves, leaning into him. He brushes her hair away from her neck and whispers, “I am not my mother. I don’t need spells. And no…it only enhances mana, not romantic feelings.”

Kiko’s skin prickles with goosebumps. She curses herself for not getting away when she could. “This…this is not what I want. I don’t…like you like that.”

“You don’t, hmm?” He sighs, leaning over her. “You probably should update your body about this decision, sweetheart. She’s not listening.”

Kiko shivers at his touch, hating herself for enjoying it. “I…you…you’re j-just using tricks. It’s this place. It’s a…lie.”

“The only one lying is you, darling. You’re lying to yourself.”

“No I’m not. I’m…” Newlin cuts her off with a warm kiss, his tongue tenderly intertwining with hers making her dizzy. Mmm…she wonders why they’re there? Training?

Caressing her shoulders, Kiko is swept away like the rushing waters behind her. And she doesn’t care.

*****

Leia curses in her head. She knew this plan wasn’t as easy as Mor made it sound. A slave from Tribe Hanalani stops their entrance. “What is your business, strangers?”

“I am Mor Rigan. I’ve messaged your queen. She is expecting us. I bring her Creator Leia Wahine, the rightful heir to Tribe Wahine. We have business to discuss.”

The slave arches an eyebrow not moving. “Why was I not notified then? I am Master Slave Nob. I know about all visitors to Tribe Hanalani.”

“See for yourself then,” Mor continues. “Leia has the queen’s look about her. Bright blonde hair, blue eyes like the sky. They are quite famous, slave.”

Leia almost laughs at this statement. She did not realize how renown her family had gotten over the years.

The slave eyes Leia and grunts.

Mor switches tactics. “Do you wish punishment today, slave? Your creator will be quite displeased by your actions. Let us pass.”

Another slave walks up, saying, “I think she tells the truth, Nob. I recognize Creator Leia Wahine as Queen Hawika’s daughter. She came to our slave hold when she was a teen before I was brought into this tribe. I was but a child then but she looks very much the same.”

Unsmiling, Nob relents. “Fine. But only you and Creator Leia will pass. Leave the rest of your company here. No slave is to enter our compound or they will be sent to the Pillar of Punishment to die.”

Leia likes the way this slave is obedient and loyal to his tribe. Could she run the Amazon with obedient slaves like this? Would Hanalani Tribe help her embrace the crown?

“Very well,” Mor agrees. “Lead the way.”

Leia follows the slave into the warm yet haunting compound. Tribe Hanalani is one of the most fearsome tribes. Very rich. They are known for breeding the strongest women who sometimes grow taller than men. She wonders if they are not walking into a trap.

Nob bows before his creator. “Your grace, this woman insists upon meeting with you. Says she is Leia Wahine of Tribe Wahine.”

The creator lifts her mouth in a sly smile. “Thank you, Nob. You may take your position. I will meet with them.”

Leia feels a tingle of unease as she surveys the glaring women of the Creator’s court.

One of the women shoots daggers at Leia. This is all a mistake. They shouldn’t have come. What if they hand them over to her mother to die by drowning in the pit of death at the temple?

“I see you’ve made good on your promise, Mor Rigan. I am quite shocked by this but pleased.”

Mor nods, saying, “You see, I’ve brought her here and we are willing to make your tribe great, second only to Tribe Wahine. This is our vow to you as you well know Queen Hawika has tainted your tribe for all eternity. In spite of this harsh reality, the Maker is shining His face upon you as we speak.”

The creator winces at the name, Queen Hawika, for she killed her mother when she was but a babe. “I have always wanted vengeance for the death of my mother who should have been queen. Queen Hawika used magic tricks, defeating death in a most wicked way. Yes. I am here to help. What is your plan, Mor Rigan?”

Now is the time for Leia to take control. If she will be queen, she must not be Mor’s puppet. She speaks before Mor has a chance to explain, “I am here to say we must rid my tribe of all evil doers. We will be in contact with Mor’s son, Newlin. He will no doubt help us kill everyone in the compound. Under the shroud of night, we will come in and take over when all is quiet. They will not be on their guard. The one they are worried about, Simon LeBoeff, will give himself up and before they can cast him in the pit of death, we will attack.”

One of the women asks, “How do you know this Newlin is on your side?”

At this, Mor responds, “Newlin is my son. We correspond faithfully. He does not like his ill treatment as the lowest ranking slave and hates all the slaves who are not even born of the tribe but rank higher at the whim of Creator Kalani. Kalani is the daughter of a Tribe Wahine Tribal son–a slave–the son of Hawika. Not born of a Creator. This is heresy. All should die for this injustice.”

“Creator Leia,” the creator says, “will you allow me the status of second in command if we succeed in overthrowing Queen Hawika?”

Leia cocks her head, worrying for Mor. Wasn’t that her position? But what could she do? She needed Tribe Hanalani and their fearsome Amazon warriors. “Yes. You will be my royal council Shaman.”

The creator gives a confident look. “Then contact this Newlin. Tell him we will surround Tribe Wahine when he thinks their defenses are down. I am excited for this new journey with you, Creator Leia, and proclaim that you be the rightful queen of all the Amazon. I swear this by the blood of my ancestors it will be so.”

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