After Raala’s betrayal, the tribe was in need of a Scholar to provide income. Manika had planned some additions to the compound, but they didn’t have the money. Thankfully, she soon found a new Scholar to join her tribe: Tahia Alane.
“Welcome, Tahia! I heard you are a skilled painter? Your skill will be most beneficial to the tribe.”
“It is an honor, Creator. Your tribal village is already so impressive.”
Tahia was given Raala’s old room. It hadn’t been used since her death.
Tahia immediately started a painting. While she was working, Nieva walked up to her.
“Hello, you must be the new Scholar. My name is Nieva”, she introduced herself, “Pink seems to be your favourite colour, you use it a lot in your painting”, she also noted. What an unusual introduction, Tahia thought. But somehow, she liked not always hearing the same shallow phrases.
“It is. My name is Tahia. As you can see I am also dressed all in pink. It’s the colour of Scholars, you see. Your outfit is green, are you the gatherer?”
“I am. If you are ever in need of anything to paint, you can always ask me”, Nieva smiled and with these words, she graciously left to tend her plants.
Tahia watched her for a while. This woman was mysterious and somehow she felt herself drawn to that. There were too few truly interesting people in this world, but Nieva was definitely one of them. Tahia thought about Nieva’s offer. She could surely use some plants to paint, but she thought she’d rather paint Nieva herself. She wondered if the creator would agree. Maybe she would have to paint her first.
She asked the creator for a word.
“What is it, Tahia?”, Manika wondered.
“I was thinking, that it would be a good idea, if I painted your portrait, Creator. As far as I have seen, you don’t have one yet. As former Creator, I could paint your mother too and maybe the other tribeswomen to come”, Tahia suggested.
“That is a great idea, Tahia”, Manika agreed. She was glad, Tahia seemed to be a great addition to the tribe, “Well thought. We shall start the portraits tomorrow.”
Manika tells her mother the news.
“I am so proud of you Manika. It seems you bring the right people to the tribe and make the right decisions. Portraits of us will surely make our descendants remember us.”
The topic of right decisions reminded Manika of Taam and the decision she had to face. When everyone was outside, she met him in the living room.
“Taam…”, she said and they shared a hug full of affection and emotion.
But then Manika took a step backwards.
“Taam I can’t do this. I just can’t stand the thought of letting you die. I’d rather see you alive. I wouldn’t survive the pain your death brought”, she explained, trying hard not to cry.
“But… I want to be with you. My life is short and my death is inevitable. But if I have to die, I want to spend the rest of my life with you”, Taam told her and took her hands. A wave of affection rushed over Manika at his warm touch and every inch of her body longed to be with him.
For a moment she forgot all the worries she had and let her emotions guide her.
The kiss was sweet, full of love and warm… How could she ever take this warmth from him? Her heart felt like it would burst of sorrow and love at every second, there was nothing she could do.
“Please, just let it happen. It’s meant to be”, Taam pleaded, but Manika knew it was the right thing to do.
“It would not be worth the pain of your death…”, she told him, her own heart was breaking with every word.
“Don’t you want to be with me?”, Taam asked. Manika could hardly hold back the tears. How could he do this? How couldn’t he see how much his life meant to her?
“You mean everything to me. That’s why I can’t be responsible for your death…”
She quickly left before her feelings would overtake her. She had made a decision and Taam’s life was worth more to her than his love. Still, she moment she sat down on her bed, she started to sob uncontrollably. Why was this world so cruel?
Taam was heartbroken. He felt betrayed… couldn’t she see that her love meant more to him than his life? Was she so selfish to save herself from pain and let him suffer? Little did Taam know about Manika’s suffering.
He knew that Manika, as Creator, must breed and if she wouldn’t breed with him… He couldn’t stand the thought of her being with another man. There was no way he would be here to witness that. And there was only one way for a slave to leave the tribe…