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.
“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