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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Sorry for the delay, but I’m back on track and will update at least once a week. Thanks for reading!