On the morning of her birthday, Kalaya woke up excited. She would basically be a woman grown soon! She couldn’t wait to age up so people would take her more seriously. She was sick of her mother pushing her around and people disregarding her opinions just because she was a child. She was the heiress!
With a smile of joy on her face, Kalaya stepped out of her room, ready to receive birthday wishes. Thus, she was surprised to find she was the first at the table. Where were the guests? The presents? Just as confusion and anger began to form on Kalaya’s face, her mother stepped out of her room. Manika sighed as she saw her daughter’s face, she knew something up.
„Where is my party?“, Kalaya demanded. Manika frowned.
„Your party is this afternoon, Kalaya. Be patient!“
Though her daughter was rude and impatient, it was her birthday and Manika couldn’t ignore that. „Happy Birthday, sweetheart!“, she kissed her daughter on the cheek.
„Ew, Mother, you’re being all gross“, Kalaya complained as she turned away. Manika smiled. At least, in some ways, she was like any other child.
Reluctanly, Kalaya accepted that the party woudld not be going on the whole day, so she ran to the workout area to play on the monkey bars. Meanwhile, Manika headed outside. She had something to discuss with Nieva and Tahia. As she had expected , the two women were found at the easel where Tahia was painting while Nieva watched.
„Good morning“, Manika chimed in.
„Good morning, Creator“, Nieva smiled. Tahia gave a nervous sideglance to the workout area. „How’s the birthday girl?“, the Scholar asked. Manika’s face fell.
„Demanding“, she said shortly and decided to change the topic, „I wanted to talk to you about something. Please, sit“, she gestured towards the meeting area. The three of them took their seats and Nieva and Tahia looked at their Creator expectandly.
„I already mentioned it at your wedding, I was wondering what you were thinking about breeding“, Manika began. While their reactions at the wedding had been awkward and surprised, this time, they were ready.
„We actually discussed it, Creator“, Tahia said and Manika was very pleased. It was important for the tribe to produce strong tribal daughters. Nieva and Tahia could be no exception.
„We want to have daughters, so we decided to find a breeding slave. I will try first… because of my age“, Nieva explained. „I’m afraid I will be too old to have children soon and I want to try while I can. After our first child, Tahia will get pregnant with the second.“
Manika tilted her head slightly as she thought about it, then nodded.
„I agree with you plan. Do you know which slave to choose yet?“
Nieva’s shoulders slumped just a bit. They hadn’t thought of a particular candidate yet but it was a touchy subject. Nieva didn’t want Tahia to feel jealous about whoever they chose. It was just breeding, perfectly normal, but you never knew when emotions would strike.
„We thought of visting the slave market tomorrow if you will allow it, Creator“, Tahia answered shyly.
„Of course, I allow it“, Manika smiled encouragingly, „The Tribe is in need of strong women.“
Tahia and Nieva smiled but on the inside they were both worrying. Would the breeding become an obstacle to their relationship? Tahia didn’t want to admit it but she didn’t like the idea of Nieva being with another. Her mind told her it was perfectly fine and that it didn’t mean anything in terms of love but her heart said differently.
Later that day, the hour of the birthday party finally arrived. Kalaya had been on the edge of her seat since the morning and she was very pleased to finally find the birthday guests trickling in. Baato had prepared a cake for the birthday girl, even though he had been talking to Kahio about how would have loved to refuse the task. But with his past, he knew better than to do so. Kalaya was the heiress after all and it was not his place to criticize her. When Zaleena arrived, she embraced Kalaya in a tight hug.
„Now aren’t you a strong one“, she smiled and Kalaya smiled back. She liked her grandmother, she was someone who understood things.
„Nice to see you, Grandmother. I’m so excited for my aging up today“, she said proudly.
„Don’t be too eager, young one“, Zaleena warned, „Being older might sound exciting for you, but it also brings great responsibilities. You’ll have to start training for the Creator’s ritual! It will take up all of your time. I wish I had been a child longer…“, Zaleena sighed as she got lost in remembrance of the old days. Kalaya only huffed.
„I know all about this ritual already, it seems like a piece of cake to me. I mean even my weak mother managed to win the fight.“
Zaleena was shocked to hear her granddaughter talking in this manner. „I bit of respect for traditions would do you good, young lady! The ritual is not to be disregarded, it -“
Just in this moment, Manika chimed in having heard nothing of the previous conversation.
„It’s time for the aging!“, she proclaimed as Baato brought the cake to the table. Kalaya was distracted from her grandmothers retort and brought her attention to the cake in front of her.
„Make a wish!“, Manika told her. I know what I would wish for…
Kalaya wrinkled her forehead for a second but then smiled and blew out all of the candles in one go.
With a sparkling spin, she turned into a beautiful teen.
Zaleena looked at her granddaughter and her face didn’t show a smile this time. She looks a lot like her mother. But only from the outside.