I went back home after my early morning excursion and found my yawning sister at the kitchen. I placed down the jar of bark juice on the table carefully.
“It was quite a long night. It was so nice!” she said dreamily. Her smile was from ear to ear. It was kind of different, which I immediately noticed.
“Right. You came in late,” I pointed out to her gently. She told me to go ahead because she wanted to stay longer at the wedding party, so I let her. I was exhausted, that’s why. Well, not physically but more on mentally speaking.
‘It was because of that stranger who gave me a guabula!’
“Yes, you were so rude. You left me at Oleifa’s!” She turned round to face me, with accusation in her beautiful green eyes. She wasn’t at all dismayed but rather enjoyed her freedom.
I rolled my eyes upward. “You said I can go ahead, so I left!” I sat down in the chair and crossed one foot over the other. I put down Ponpon on the table and rested my elbows on the armchair. He was looking at Shahrae with his piercing red eyes. “I heard you mumbling about a man’s name in your sleep,” I muttered, giving her a quizzical look.
Shahrae blushed. Her cheeks went pink.
I looked at my sister with a teasing smile on my lips. “So, what was his name, Ponpon?” I added with an inquiry, glancing at Ponpon.
“Oh, some name! I even thought it was even ridiculous!” His red eyes moved in my direction. His mouth pouted, like his non-existent brain was racked.
I grinned. “Hmm… perhaps your three-day memory has taking its toll, huh?” I poked his tiny forehead playfully. “You can’t even remember it.”
“Hey! It doesn’t mean that I only have a three-day memory, I’ve already forgotten where I came from,” he argued pointedly.
It was true. Even though with his short memory, he knew that my father gave him to me when I was seven. It was eighteen Aryan years ago. My father revealed that Ponpon could overall remember all those things he considered important to him aside from his short-term memory.
“Poor Ponpon,” my sister cooed sympathetically. Then she turned her head to look at me with a dreamy smile. “Anyway, his name’s Luick. He’s from the Nazian tribe.”
I sighed in relief. At least, he wasn’t from the north. It would be troublesome to know someone from up there as the King had somehow eyes and ears everywhere. We could get in trouble if we knew some Furezo and we didn’t report it. I didn’t want my sister to have any kind of trouble with the warmonger. As much as I hated him for sending us the dead body of our mother, and maybe the cause of it, I did not want my only beloved sister to suffer. Now that it was only us left, I would do my best to protect her.
“And guess what? He’s an elite warrior! Isn’t that nice?” she added excitedly, taking the chair that was right across from mine. “Perhaps he can help you join the army, Xerra.”
I instinctively put my feet on the table and crossed my ankles. My arms crossed, as I was contemplating.
“The annual Banatan is fast approaching, Shahrae. I’d take my chances there instead of relying on someone’s influence,” I said after a few dots.
“What? By disguising yourself as a man? Xerra, the King himself would be there. What if he discovers that you’re a woman then?” she said worriedly.
“Of course I won’t pretend to be a man, Shahrae. I’ll join without pretense. He can make me fight more than three rounds if he wants to just eliminate me from the recruitment process, but I will do everything in my power just so I can join the Elite Aryan Army!” I looked at her with conviction.
Her mouth hung open. She sat back in her seat with a sigh and shook her head. “What you’re planning to do is dangerous, Xerra. What if the King…?”
“Of course, he’ll recognize me. I’m that unique, right?” I chuckled bitterly.
“It’s not what I meant, Xerra. What if he’s going to punish you or something?”
My brows knitted. “I don’t think I’ll commit any crime if I want to join the Banatan, Shahrae. It’s just a traditional recruitment for new warriors to join the army. It’s never been said that a woman is not allowed to join the recruitment. It is just that no woman had has the guts to participate in it yet!” My hands gestured in the air as I reasoned to her.
“It’s because it’s very dangerous, Xerra! You could lose your life…” She was too concerned, I knew it. She shook her head helplessly.
Of course, I understood what my sister was trying to say. She was afraid that I’d die right in the middle of the Banatan… and maybe right before her eyes. We both saw for years now how bloody and deathly it could get. Men out there, once in the ring, they were somehow turned into beasts, fighting for their lives just so they could join the Elite Aryan Army, the King’s army. And many had died in front of those people who loved and cared for them. It was truly a barbaric way to die.
But so was war. And we were still in the middle of it even though some had the normalcy bias about it.
I smiled at my sister. “Now, that’s not very supportive of you, beloved sister.” I stood up gracefully from my chair. “I’ll join the deathly recruitment. Just remember that I’m doing this for our mother. Okay?” Then I left her to her own thoughts.
I extended my arm and Ponpon was like magnetized by my hand. I put him in the scabbard and went out of the triangular house. My thoughts were filled about the Banatan.
Could it be that stranger already knew my plan? I could not stop but ask myself again this same question over and over again. Why did he approach me anyway?
Today, just like any ordinary day, I would help the farmers plant or harvest. So, I walked toward the farm, passing by our neighbors and our supply areas. The supply areas were where the food and drinks were stocked for the whole tribe. Whoever ran out of stocks at home, they could just get them from here. Everything was free to get anything they needed. Some may hoard some food and drinks, but it was not a crime, since we had everything we need and everything was abundant. Anyway, everyone helped out to make some food and drinks for everyone, so it was like we all earned everything we got from the supply areas.I nodded at some neighbors I met and passed by. They were nice beings. I was glad I was born to this tribe since they embraced me like their own, even though I was only half-breed.I looked up at the beautiful sky. The temperature was great. The sun wouldn’t usually burn our skin. It was always good for us and the plants and everything. Nonetheless, rain was rare
The man who answered was unknown to me. He was dressed in an elite warrior suit of black and blue. His long sword was hanging on his side. I didn’t let down my guard though. I was still holding Ponpon, ready to pounce just in case. Even though he was no threat, I could not just let my guard down. What if the King sent him to kill me after he killed my mother? Well, I know that I only suspected the King for my mother’s demise. However, I could not just put it to rest that he did not let her children know she was ill at the time. We could have done something. Or we could have been beside her when she was suffering, made her at least comfortable. I had no idea if he did everything he could for our mother then. That is why I so hate the King to the point that I suspect him for killing my mother.“Oh, Luick! What are you doing there?” I heard Zelian’s deep voice behind me. I whirled around to look at him. He knew this elite warrior?“Luick?” I echoed and
I swallowed hard. I did not want to accept my father’s words. But I knew that I had to, whether I liked it or not. The stranger’s face unexpectedly appeared in my reverie all of a sudden. My brows furrowed. It was because my father could see him in my thoughts, too. Everything from reality to my deepest dreams and desires, my father could see it. Nothing could be hidden from him. And I wasn’t wrong. My father smiled knowingly at me. His blue lips were torn from ear to ear. He was giving me that teasing look now, which made my cheeks go red.“Now, that unique being is quite interesting, my daughter,” he remarked.“Oh, Father! He just annoys me…” I frowned at him. Frustration was written all over my face.“You’re still in self-denial but I understand.” He smiled at me knowingly, still. I hated that smile of his. I couldn’t wipe it off from his face!Yes, I really I hated it when he does that. It was so unfair! My father knew everything that I didn
“You know? I just figured it out. You have that special skill called dagus to hide your aura and your presence. I must say you’re a powerful Aryan, stranger. It’s not like everybody can do it naturally. And I must admit I have trouble doing that myself.” Then, I crossed my arm as I watched him carefully.Tonight, he wore a simple pair of leather pants and sleeveless top, showing his muscular triceps. Overall, he was exhibiting his sexiness in his outfit. Until now, I could not pinpoint where he is from.The stranger sniggered and walked toward me in a predatory manner. However, I was not afraid of him.“So, he’s awesome then?” Ponpon inquired me innocently to the point of stupidity.“Keep silent, Ponpon,” I commanded him, trying hard to not get embarrassed. Ponpon is such a blabbermouth! Maybe it is because he has no brain! He sighed and did what I told him to. I was still looking at this strange being and tried to keep my hear
I was busy analyzing his action. Right. It was my first kiss after all!Why did he kiss me for powerful beings’ sake? Why? And then he ran afterward like that like a coward—or something?That was beyond… disconcerting! I should have come after him and give him a lesson or two. Maybe a punch in the nose would suffice at least! But there I was. I was just… still, processing more what just happened some moments ago.I always thought that when another being’s lips touched with mine it would be disgusting and horrible. But, no. With him, it was quite… wonderful! And my heart was jumping excitedly until now. It was insane. I could even feel the rush of my blood that traveled my entire body. I was not sure how many miles per dot though. I could not measure it.“Wow! That made you motionless, emotionless and… something… more… less,” Ponpon said with a mocking tone. But he sighed afterward. His red eyes were also bewildered by the stranger’s action.I swallowed
I was in my room and I stared at the two guabula flowers that were sitting on top of a marble nightstand beside my bed. Ponpon was beside the flowers, staring at them thoughtfully as well. Yes, as if he had a brain in his metallic head.I lay down with my arms crossed under my head. I crossed my ankles and looked up at the marble ceiling. My bed was soft, which was made up of preserved flower petals and foamy materials that were wrapped with silky cloth. It had a nice smell and comfortable.I closed my eyes and willed myself to sleep. However, that stranger’s words came back to me. I wondered how bad the recruitment could get in the morrow.“You just keep this and bring it with you tomorrow. I’m sure that this will help.”***The sun wasn’t on the horizon yet but I was already up. I put on my fighting suit of black and red color, almost the same shade as my father’s uniform but of different design. It was stretchable and
“Xerra, that way to register,” Daraton told me with a gesture of his hand.I nodded and followed him. My sister went with Zulika, Oleifa, and the others from our tribe. Five of my fellow Aigleans came with me to register our names for the recruitment. There was already a long line when we got there.The white-haired being who was about in his hundreds looked at me when it was my turn. He turned to the grave-looking being who stood behind him. He wore an army uniform and judging by the authoritative way he carried himself, I knew he was a high-ranking official. I looked at the standing lapel of his uniform and I was right. He was the general of the Elite Aryan Army—General Isoog from what I heard was his name. I never thought that I’d meet him at this early stage of the Banatan. Then, our eyes met. I almost saw the recognition reflected in his eyes but it faded right away. He hid his emotion well. I didn’t even think about probing into his thoughts as the older being was
Everyone settled down and listened to the official. Luick sidestepped and let the Army General talk. He caught my eyes and held them for a moment before he began to speak.“So, here are the rules, warriors. You can use any weapon you like. There’s just that little twist this year. When your name is called, you get your neck and go up on that ring.” We all looked at the ring that was already set up outside as well as different weapons that were arranged nearby. There were super guns. Yes, high-tech ones that could maim someone permanently. There were others that were not guns. Yes, I meant that blade family and others. They were short and long, with varied designs, sizes and weights.“And then, another three of you will be randomly called to gang up the first one who’s called out,” General Isoog added. “After fifteen dots, if none of you is able to defeat the first man, you just gave him the chance of a lifetime to join the army! He’ll automatical