Zaleena’s death and the birth of Nieva’s daughter had shaken up the tribe. Manika knew that her mother wouldn’t have wanted for them to ponder on death but to look out onto a new life and so she did. The little girl had been named Prie and was loved by both of her mothers with all their heart. Kalaya didn’t like the new baby as it diverted attention from her.
More often than not, these days she was found wandering the grounds on her own, only interrupted by her mother who demanded her to train. But Kalaya still refused. She didn’t want to train, training was exhausting. And why should she even do it? The so-called fight was only a scam, they would let her win either way, she was sure of it. Otherwise, how could her weak mother have won?
Manika had been worried about her daughter for a while now, but when Kalaya’s birthday approached, she decided to give up and let her learn from her own mistakes. She gathered everyone around the table with the birthday cake and cleared her throat.
„Today is an important day, as Kalaya, the Creator heiress, will go to the temple and fight the Champion to earn her honour and become Creator of this tribe.“
No one spoke. A slight grumbling came from Baato, but he didn’t dare say anything. Kalaya treated slaves like scum, but she was still the heiress and it was his place to stay silent. Kalaya only nodded at her mother’s speech. Of course, she would do splendidly. With an arrogant look on her face, she turned towards the cake and blew out the candles in one go. A spin later she was finally a young adult. She felt self-assured.
Finally, people would start taking her seriously. This tribe was up for some changes, of that she was sure. The tribe members clapped half-heartedly, but Manika wasted no time.
„We must leave for the Temple now. The priestess and the Champion will be awaiting us!“, she announced and beckoned the other women to follow her.
When they stepped into the Temple, the priestess was indeed waiting for them.
„Welcome, Tribe Arayeo“, she said, but she did not smile, „You are here for the ritual fight. Let me introduce our new Champion, The Tiger!“
With these words, a woman stepped out of the corner. She looked even more fierce than the snake if that was even possible.
Her hair is flaming and she must surely have fangs as teeth and claws for hands, Manika thought. For the first time, Kalaya felt a lump of fear in her throat. But she swallowed it. She was the heiress! She must win! Still in the back of her mind, a little pile of regret began to stack up. Slowly, but surely. Maybe, just maybe, she should have trained more. But it was too late now and Kalaya gathered all her strength as she stepped into the fighting pit.
The Tiger growled at her threateningly. Kalaya tried to stare back with all self-assurance she could gather, but it seemed like all of her arrogance had fled her mind and left was only panic.
„Let the fight begin!“, the priestess called out and the Tiger wasted no time.
She launched herself at Kalaya and swept her off her feet. Kalaya groaned as her breath was taken away by a hard blow. She took a few punches before she managed to pull herself together and dodge the next attack. Her confidence grew.
She lashed out at the Tiger and her hand hit rock-hard muscles. The Tiger didn’t even flinch,but instead jumped at Kalaya again. How am I going to do this? Think!, Kalaya thought to herself. Her mind was racing unable to grasp a clear thought while she was still bullied by the Tiger.
Suddenly, she saw a fist flying towards her This is it… She didn’t even feel it anymore as she fell to the ground. She just lay there staring at the ceiling in shame as the Tiger stood over her and frowned.
Kalaya could only think about the shame she had just brought to her tribe. Regret came washing through her in waves. She should have trained. She should have listened. She could imagine the look on her mothers face, but she couldn’t bare to look at her right now. The only strength left in her went into holding back tears. There was nothing she could do anymore, it was too late. She had lost.