“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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