Chapter 55 – There’s a Way

Manika shook her head.
“I can’t believe it came to this. If we had only talked somewhere more private…”
She was sitting at the kitchen table with Kalaya discussing the recent events. Baato had been trying his best to serve his best cooking creations to lift everyone’s mood, though some dishes were fairly… experimental. Kalaya pushed away her plate.
“Well, it’s no use to regret anything now. We need to disrupt these rumors or this assassin won’t be the last”, Kalaya said firmly. She didn’t believe in mulling over the past. They had to move forward. They had thrown the assassin in their prison cell but kept him alive to await trial at the temple. She just hoped that it wasn’t the Temple who had sent him after her in the first place. But no, the priestess wouldn’t, Kalaya was sure of it.
“You know…”, Manika started carefully, “There is a way that would probably convince the other tribes that you don’t have any war plans…”

“Was everything to your liking, Creator?”, Baato looked at her almost untouched meal. Kalaya managed to force a smile.

“It’s great, Baato. I’m just not hungry, these dealings make me lose my appetite.”
Baato looked relieved as he took away her plate.
“Well, what is it?”, Kalaya demanded after Baato had left, “Why didn’t you tell me before, mother? This is important!”
Manika fidgeted with her hands. “I’m not sure you will like it.”
“What does that matter?”, Kalaya replied angrily. “The tribe isn’t safe as long as these rumors persist. Tell me now!”
“You have to produce an heir.”
“What?”, Kalaya said in surprise. “How would that help?”
She hadn’t thought of breeding yet and truth was she didn’t want to. She had planned to build the tribe back up before taking up responsibilities as a mother. And who would she even choose as a mate? She had seen the slaves of the market, they were all either weak or dislikable. Or treacherous.

“No Creator breeds if she is about to start a war. It would put the heiress at risk and slow her down during the pregnancy. If you conceive, the other tribes will know there is no war to come soon”, Manika explained. Kalaya had to admit it made sense.
“I have to think about it”, she reluctantly agreed. If this was the way, how could she refuse?
“I’ll give you some time. But don’t take too long!”
Manika stood up and left the house.

There was something that she needed to know. She looked around the compound but saw no one. Baato was working in the kitchen, and Nieva and Tahia were upstairs playing with Prie. Good.
The prison cell was located next to the sacrificial area. She bowed slightly as she passed the statue of prayers and walked up to the door of the cell. Through the small window she saw the assassin curled up on a wooden bench, the only piece of furniture in the room.

He seemed to have a light sleep since he jumped up as Manika knocked on the door. His eyes narrowed.
“What do you want?”, he asked as he walked up to the door and stared at Manika.

“I need to know who sent you.”
“Why?”, he replied, his mouth showing a slight smirk.
“Because I need to send them a message. The war rumors are false.”
The assassin threw his head back and started laughing.
“Don’t you get it?”, he said as he finally calmed down, “It doesn’t matter. This isn’t about the rumors. It’s about her mindset. If she has thoughts of war after just becoming Creator what will she think of next? She is a danger to all of the Amazon. She will never be safe. And neither will her children.”
Manika’s eyes widened in shock. As if the assassin had read her mind about making Kalaya have a child.
“We will see”, she simply said calming herself down. She would find a way to fix things. “But one thing is for sure, you will not live to see her death.”

Next: Chapter 56 – Candidates

Chapter 54 – An Attempt

Warning: Depiction of violence in this chapter.

Kalaya sat at the pond in the center of the new compound mulling over her mother’s words.
‘This is a mistake!’
Maybe she was right. Kalaya had sworn to herself that she would bring the tribe back to glory and she still believed that openly displaying their strength and aquiring new lands was the best way to do it. But one thought had entered her mind. She couldn’t stop thinking about it ever since. What if we lose? Could she risk the tribe losing everything again? But this time for good? If the other tribes fought back and defeated them they would be completely destroyed. Just like that.

She shook her head. Not like that. She stood up to tell her mother that she had changed her mind. They would find another way. A safer way. She passed the meeting abode on the way to the house. She had to gather the tribe there soon to discuss further plans. Especially bringing new faces to the tribe. Baato was loyal to the bone but he was also old and wouldn’t be able to work much longer.

Suddenly she saw a movement out of the corner of her eye. Out of instict she took a quick step back which probably saved her life. This way the blow that had been meant for her head only scratched her nose, so close to her eyes that she could feel the weapon brush her lashes.

She immediately fell into a fighting stance, her training from the temple was kicking in. The attacker had to take a moment to recover from his failed attempt to strike her which gave Kalaya an opening to jump him and knock the weapon out of his hands.
“Die!”, the man grunted as he slung his arms around Kalaya’s neck.

She wrestled to get his hands off but was already suffering from the lack of new oxygen. She felt dizzy. NO! Recruiting all her strength she pulled up her knee and hit her attacker in the groin. He let go of her and groaned in pain but he didn’t take his eyes off her, ready to attack again. But the relieving breaths Kalaya was able to take returned her focus. She dodged a fist aimed at her head and pushed the assassin down to the ground using the force of his own blow.

Just then, Nieva and Tahia came running over to her as they had noticed the commotion.
“What happened?!”
“Who is that?”
“Are you hurt?”
Kalaya breathed heavily but was still too shaken to say anything. The adrenalin rush from the fight lessened and she started to realize what just occured. An attempt on her life.
“Bind him!”, Manika commanded as she hurried over to the scene, anger showing on her face. Nieva went to get rope and Tahia picked up the weapon which she now held to the attacker’s chest
“One wrong move…”

The man only frowned in disgust. He was wearing nothing but a pair of black pants. A slave.
“Who sent you?”, Manika demanded to know as Nieva returned and started binding his hands and feet. The man only grinned and said nothing.
“Tell us who sent you or you will regret it!”, Kalaya yelled at the slave.

“The only thing I regret is not taking your unworthy life!”, he croaked with a hoarse voice and thrust his head towards Kalaya.
“Watch it, slave!”, she growled at him. “Remember that you are in our hands now!”
The man laughed, the sound sent chills down her spine.
“Go on, kill me. I don’t care. I haven’t fullfilled my duty, I would die anyway.”
“But why? Who sent you?”, Kalaya yelled angrily. The slave fell silent.
“WHO. SENT. YOU?”, Kalaya grabbed the man’s arm and shook him.
“What does it matter?”, he finally exclaimed, “It doesn’t matter who sent me. The only thing that matters is that they will defeat you if you try to bestow war upon these lands.”
Kalaya gulped. So this was what this was about. Her war plans. But…
“How did you know about the war?”
“What war? What are you talking about?”, Tahia injected, her voice higher pitched than usual. Nieva looked concerned. Kalaya ignored them for the moment. She could explain later.
“How did you know?”, she repeated the question but the slave didn’t answer, only grinned as if he knew something she didn’t. Anger started to rise in her. How did they know about her plans? She had told no one except for her mother, just a few days ago when…
Suddenly the scene entered her mind. The slave who interrupted them. He had heard.
“Throw him into the cell!”, she ordered and turned away as Baato, Nieva and Tahia escorted the man to the prison cell, Tahia trailing closely behind him with the weapon.

Manika followed her daughter.
“This is bad.”

“I know”, Kalaya let out a bitter laugh. “The most ironic thing is I had already changed my mind about the war. You were right, it’s too big of a risk.”
Manika nodded solemnly.
“Then we need to find a way to get rid of these rumors for good.”

Next: Chapter 55

Chapter 53 -A New Direction

The compound remodel Kalaya had ordered was in full swing.

Since Tahia was able to sell her paintings at the market again they had made quite a bit of money. Nieva helped by offering up some of her garden produce. Baato was too old to help with the woodwork but he oversaw the proceedings instead, ordering around the slaves they had borrowed from the market to do as Kalaya told.

Manika walked through the lot and passed an exchange between Baato and one of the other slaves.
“Hey, what are you doing? If you don’t work you’re no use to the Creator”, he angrily told off the red-haired slave who was standing around lazily.

“What I am supposed to do? These crates are huge!”, the slave snapped back pointing at the obnoxiously large crates. “As if someone made them extra big so I wouldn’t be able to carry them!”
“Nonsense!”, Baato explained, “Who would even do that? Just open them up here.”
The slave grumpily did as he was told and started working on the crates.

Manika walked up to her daughter who was standing at the edge of the lot, looking towards the temple.

“What are you thinking about?”, she asked.
“Direction”, Kalaya answered solemnly. “I have to figure out where this tribe is headed and what we can do next.”
“You said at the meeting you had an idea, didn’t you?”, Manika was worried. If Kalaya didn’t have a plan, what was going to happen to the tribe?

“I do”, Kalaya reassured her, “but it’s only a short-term plan. I need to come up with something more… permanent.”
“I am proud of you, you know. You’ve learned a lot while you were away.”
Kalaya nodded. “I did. And I know that we have to  expand if we want to truly win back the other tribe’s respect. The name Arayeo needs to mean something again.”
Manika furrowed her brows.
“What are you saying?”
“We need more people. And we need more space.”

“There isn’t any space near here, all the land is divided between the Amazonian tribes”, Manika explained.
“I know”, Kalaya replied not daring to look at her mother. She knew she would disapprove. But it was the only way.
“I hope you don’t mean what I think you mean”, Manika said, anger rising in her voice. “War is not the answer!”

“You said it yourself, there’s no land left. The other tribes think us weak. We must-”

“Creator!”, a voice from behind them made Kalaya jump. She turned to see one of the working slaves bow at her.
“What?”, she snapped, her irritation apparent on her face.
“I am sorry to interrupt. I’m afraid there is disagreement on how you want you new bedroom modeled.”
“I don’t care about the bloody bedroom. Discuss it with Baato, he is the head of this operation. I am busy!”, Kalaya lashed out at the slave.

“I am very sorry for interrupting you, Creator. I will not happen again.”

It better not, Kalaya thought, turning back to her mother. All these borrowed slave were causing a disrupt she did not like. She’d rather have the compound to herself again but the work had to be done. The sun was setting and there wasn’t much left to do for the day.

“We will talk about this another time. But mark my words, this is a mistake”, Manika warned. Kalaya shook her head.
“It’s the only way. But nothing is set in stone yet. I agree we will discuss it at the next tribal meeting. For now, the compound remodel is priority.”

She looked over at all the slaves working hard on the house. It would show the other tribes what Tribe Arayeo was worth.

Note: Whew, the new comopound isn’t finished yet, good for everyone it didn’t have to be for this chapter since it’s “under construction”. Expect a full tour soon! 

Bonus screenshot:

Next: Chapter 54 – An Attempt