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 6.9 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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