Child of the Kaites: Chapter 16

Here are previous chapters.

Child of the Kaites Chapter 16 | Beth WanglerBy midday, we have finished our explanations and begun discussing how to begin rebelling against Izyphor.

“Yes,” Elesekk says.  He readjusts on one of the crates we’ve dragged to form a circle.  “We ought to start with gaining the royal Yrin’s patronage.”

I squint against the sunlight that dances off the ripples of the ocean as if they’re made of faceted crystal.  The air wavers between pleasantly cool and humid warmth, depending on whether or not the breeze is blowing.  “Remind me what it means for him to be called ‘royal.’  Izyphorn titles have always confused me.” Continue reading

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Victory Came Through Defeat: Palm Sunday Sonnet

If you’ve been around a year or more, you probably know that Palm Sunday is one of my favorite holidays.  I’ve written this post in previous years, and this one, too.

I couldn’t pass up another opportunity to share my love of this day with you all, even though this post comes a day late, so I wrote this sonnet for you.

(For those who care, it’s iambic tetrameter following the Spenserian sonnet rhyme scheme.)

Victory Came Through Defeat | Beth Wangler


In hopes to be remembered well,

The olden kings of empires large

In feats engraved on lasting steles

Would lead men in a battle charge.

Victorious armies all would march

With captives and spoils in proud display,

Gifts and honors to discharge

And offering made by the god-for-a-day.

Old Zion saw a triumph, yea,

Announching a Rabbi’s victory.

He ascended ‘mid palms and donkey’s bray;

Next week, they nailed him to a tree.

Thus Jesus’s triumph in Jerusalem streets

Showed victory came through defeat.

It doesn’t have the smoothest flow, but I’m no Petrarch, Spenseras, or Shakespeare.

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Child of the Kaites: Chapter 15

Find previous chapters here.

This is the beginning of Part II of Child of the Kaites.

Child of the Kaites Chapter 15 | Beth Wangler

        Golden dust twirls in lazy eddies under the roof of plastered reeds.  A curtain rustles in the unshuttered window.  The early cries of the auklets, petrels, pigeons, and gulls down at the harbor echo up into the hut.  The air is perfectly cool.

        I stretch my arms over my head and settle deeper into the mattress.  A weight presses on my stomach.  I smile and lightly rest my hand on the arm encircling my waist.

        Turning so my cheek touches the pillow, I watch Saviayr sleep.  His golden hair swirls over his smooth forehead.  His thin eyelashes curl at the bottom of his rose-blue eyelids.  One eyelash has fallen onto his flushed cheek during the night.  I don’t brush it away, for fear of disturbing him.

        Waking up next to Savi, seeing the freckles on his neck and hearing the soft pufts of breath leave his parted lips, makes it easy to dismiss the nightmare that interrupted my sleep.  Here before me is the proof that the slave master’s sword didn’t slice a red line across his throat.  Saviayr is alive.  The nightmare was just a shadow.

        Memories from yesterday crowd the dream out of my mind. Continue reading

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Child of the Kaites: Chapter 14

Find previous chapters here.

Child of the Kaites Chapter 14 | Beth Wangler

The morning dawns with strong light on a ravaged hilltop.  No plants within three arms’ lengths remain in the ground.  Their roots lay atop the dirt, churned so that rocks lie on the surface and stems poke face-down into the soil.  

The path of destruction follows the route we took from the beach.  Nhardah was wise to bring us here, away from the houses.  Otherwise, there would probably have been casualties.  I wonder how the Iranines will explain last night’s events.

“I don’t understand,” I say, looking at the remains of the storm.  Some of the helpless feeling from the night before returns.  I am impossibly small, compared to the vastness of Orrock and further reach of ierah.  I’m just one girl.  How could I possibly warrant such extreme fury from the aivenkaites?

“What don’t you understand?” Nhardah asks.  He helps me sit up and pats my back.

“Why…” I sweep an arm around.  “Why were they so focused on me?”

Nhardah chuckles.  “Think.  Why would the aivenkaites want to harm you?”

I frown.  “But I haven’t done anything yet.  I haven’t even left Ira.”

“They are happy with the people Aia chose being enslaved and killed by those who reject the Creator.  The aivenkaites know as well as you and I, as well as the kaites, what was prophesied about you in your youth.  They know this is Aia’s will.  Of course they are trying to stop you before you can do anything.”

That is a sobering thought.  Not only am I about to antagonize Izyphor, I’ve also made myself a target to the aivenkaites.

Aia, I’m going to need so much help.

“Well,” Nhardah says, “now that that’s settled, it’s time to get you back for the wedding.”

I groan and cover my eyes.  My enemies aren’t enough to deal with right now.  Saviayr’s marrying Maylani.  Everyone expects me to be elated for my cousin, not fighting off tears and affection that won’t die.  Of course, I have to face their wedding exhausted from the aivenkaite attack.  My whole body is sore, and dried blood is caked over my knuckles and arms.  I just want to bathe and sleep.

“Let’s leave a day early,” I beg Nhardah.  “You can get my bag, and we’ll go to the ferry.  There’s no reason I have to go to their wedding.”

Nhardah-Lev’s expression rivals Tatanda’s most disapproving glare.  I guess he’s had all of history to perfect the look.  “Young lady, you will go to that wedding.  Running from your pain and fear is unworthy of the champion Aia-Thaies has chosen.”

Cowed by his rebuke, I stand and wince.  Needles poke into my ankle.  I must have twisted it last night.  Tears spark in my eyes.  I blink them back, but frustration, dread, physical pain, fatigue–it’s all too much.

But I am the Leader of a Revolt.  Worse may await me in Izyphor.  This is a test of my endurance.

I swallow, take a deep breath, and start limping down the hill.

Nhardah-Lev hums, then sweeps me up.  “I’m glad you changed your mind,” he says, “but you don’t have to do it on your own.  That has never been Aia’s way for His creation.”

Nhardah carries me home, cradled like a young child against his chest.  Already, Ira is awake and preparing for the ceremony and celebration.  An elderly couple pause to look at last night’s scars on the island.  “The spirits were angry last night,” the man frets.  “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“Perhaps they don’t want this wedding to happen,” the woman guesses.

I tuck my face against Nhardah and mutter, “They wouldn’t be the only ones.”

“Raiballeon,” Nhardah says, gentle.  Despite his tone, guilt pokes me.  “You may be surprised by today’s events.”

If any human can be justified in predicting the future, it’s the Firstborn, so I swallow any responses and try to hope that he’s right.

We somehow make it to the villa without being stopped.  It’s too much to hope that no one saw my disheveled state, but at least I don’t have to deal with that right now.  With blessing, I’ll be gone before their wagging tongues reach Tatanda’s ears and can clean up before I meet anyone in the house.

Nhardah sets me down at the foot of the porch.  “Have hope, Raiballeon,” he says.  “Aia gives good things to humans.”  Then he disappears down the hill, and I sneak into my room.

The water in my room turns red before I’ve even finished cleaning my hands.  When the hurried steps of a servant passes down the hall, I peek out the curtain and beckon him.  He gasps at my appearance, and I raise a finger to my lips.  A couple more gestures communicate my wish for more water, and he scurries off.

Unlike the day Saviayr and his family arrived, the kaites didn’t heal my injuries when they left.  I shudder at what that could mean.  Somewhere on Orrock, they probably fight on.  In the meantime, I’m left with more bruises than I know how to handle and plenty of scrapes that could become infected.

The servant returns, and I finish cleaning up as best I can.  With great effort, I don a maroon dress with a deep yellow vest.  My chanavea is the only adornment I choose.  Appropriately attired, I wrap supporting cloth around my ankle and hobble to my spot on the porch to hide.  Hopefully no one will come looking for me until the ceremony starts.

Behind a curtain of pots, I watch the activity in the yard.  Already, Iranines congregate nearby, showing off their finest clothing.  

The ceremony will start like every other.  Most people will join hands in a large outer circle.  Maylani and Saviayr’s family and good friends will form a middle circle.  At the center, the bride, groom, and master of ceremonies will hold hands.  After the master of ceremonies talks briefly about the purpose of marriage, he’ll join the bride and groom’s hands and they’ll be married.

A couple servants move around the platform for the center circle.  I frown.  There should be more servants.  Tatanda even hired some of the Iranines to help.  Where is everyone?

Just as I wonder that, voices trail through the window nearest my place on the porch.  Maylani wishes someone good morning.  Saviayr asks, “What are you doing in my room?”

I straighten up.  I haven’t thought about which guest rooms Saviayr and his parents were staying in.  

“I couldn’t sleep,” Maylani says.  She was probably too excited.  Nadina’s mother always says she didn’t sleep at all the night before her wedding.  My stomach clenches, and I try to dredge up happiness for my cousin.

“I’m sorry,” Saviayr answers.  He does sound sincerely sorry.  Whatever they’re going to talk about must be private.  I shouldn’t eavesdrop.  “But why are you here?”

I stand and sidestep my desk.  Maylani answers, “I was thinking.”

I hold my breath and try avoid squeaky boards in my retreat.

“So you really love Raiba, huh?”

I freeze.  Did I hear right?

I should go.

But I can’t move.

Especially when Savi says, “I really do.”

Despite my best intentions, I can’t move away.  Maylani asks, “Does she still love you?”

“I don’t know.”  Savi sighs.  “Probably not, not with how I’ve treated her this past week.  She might have even forgotten about me when we were apart.”

Part of me wants to jump over to the window and assure him that I do still love him.  Whatever logic is still working in my brain keeps me stuck in place.

“Are you okay with that?” Mayli asks.

“She can feel however she wants about me,” Savi answers.  “I have no right to demand her affection.  But I do plan to try to earn her love again.”

In the quiet that follows, my ears burn.  What happened last night?  I’m clearly missing important information.  Savi loves me?  Maylani knows about us?  I–I don’t understand.

Maylani’s voice is so quiet, I find myself sneaking closer.  “…is that I don’t want to be a zealot’s wife.”

“Okay,” Saviayr says.

“I think you’re right that we shouldn’t get married.”

There are muted footsteps, then Savi gently says, “Maylani, I’m glad you agree.  I really am sorry⎼”

“No, let me speak,” Maylani interrupts.  “I’m trying to be a better sister, okay?  To Pitka, but also Raiba’s been like a big sister to me.  That’s the only reason I’m saying what I’m about to say.  If she still loves you, and if you can convince her before everything was supposed to start, I’ll try to convince Tatanda to let you two get married this morning instead of you and me.”

“Maylani, I don’t know what to say.”

“Don’t.  I’m not doing this for you.  It stinks, the way you treated me.  You should have told me as soon as we got here.  I’m really, really angry that you waited till the night before our wedding.”  Her voice shakes at the end.

“I know.”  Savi sounds subdued.  “I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, well, sorry doesn’t change things.  Just go try to make things right with one of us,” Maylani orders.

“Okay,” Savi says.  His steps fade, then pause.  “I truly am sorry, Maylani.  I hope you can forgive me someday.”

She sniffs.  “Maybe someday.  Only if you don’t break Raiba’s heart, too.”

Then the room goes silent.

I drop onto the bench and realize my hands are covering my mouth.  It doesn’t make sense.

It doesn’t make sense.

What just happened?

Footsteps thud on the porch.  My head jerks up, and my wide eyes instantly meet Saviayr’s.

He pulls up short.  “Rai.”

“Hi.”  A hysterical laugh forces itself out of the hands still covering my mouth.

Then he’s kneeling in front of me before I can blink, fingers brushing the scrapes on my forehead.  “Rai, who did this?”  Savi’s voice is low and hard, like it used to be when we had to convince him not to react after the slavemaster beat someone.

He touches a bruise on my cheek, and I flinch.  “I’m fine.  I was just caught in the storm last night.”

The muscles in Saviayr’s jaw stand out.  “I’m not the expert in kaites that you are,” he says, “but even I have no doubt last night was a battle.”

I bite my lip.  This is the least important thing we could be talking about, but how do I tactfully confess that I overheard his and Maylani’s conversation?  “Well, yes.  But I survived.  Um, tell me about you.”

“I’m fine,” Savi answers, frowning at my diversion.  “I was inside when the battle started.  Rai, you’re clearly not okay.”

I run my fingertips over my scalp and grimace.  “Really, I’ll heal.  It’s just…”

He takes my hands in his and squeezes.  “Rai, please tell me what’s wrong.”

I laugh, though, my face contorts like it does when I cry.  “Oh, it’s just that, you know.”  I pull a hand free and wave at his bedroom window.  “I overheard you and Maylani.”

Savi’s eyebrows shoot up.  He rocks back on his heels.  His lips form a circle.

“I didn’t mean to,” I babble.  “I just came out here to hide until the ceremony.  I mean, you freaked out when you saw me, and I’m sure my cousins will, too.  It’s easier not to upset them this way.  But then you started talking, and⎼”

Saviayr’s hand slides up to squeeze my upper arm.  “I’m…not upset,” he assures me.  He lets go and rises to sink onto the swing beside me.  “So, how much did you hear?”

I bounce my leg, which makes the swing wiggle.  “I think…everything?”

Savi laughs pulls down his chin.  “Wow.”  He looks over at me, eyes full of hope and fear.

I bounce my leg harder and squeeze my hands together in my lap.  “But I don’t really understand what I heard?”

“Yeah?”  He takes a deep breath and looks away.  “Yeah, okay,” he nods.  “I guess I have a lot to explain.  Um, I did what you said, last night.  I went to talk with Maylani.  She…I’d realized earlier yesterday that I had to stop lying to myself and to her.  So I told her what I should have said when I first found out you were alive: I told her how we loved each other back in Izyphor, and promised to marry each other, and how I thought you were dead.”

So she knows that I lied to her the whole time we’ve known each other.  I bite my lip again.  “How did she respond?”

“She was sad that you hadn’t told her, but pretty understanding.  Um, then I told her…” He glances up, green eyes flecked with amber latching onto mine.  We’ve been conversing in the Common Tongue, but now he switches to Maraian.  “I told her I still love you, Rai.”

Savi presses his lips together.  He waits, probably for a reaction, but I can’t give him one.  Overhearing what sounded like him confessing this to Maylani shocked me.  Now, hearing Savi say he still loves me in person, I feel like Tari out of the histories, turned to a stone statue.  I’m frozen.

Savi straightens.  “I should have said something that first moment I saw you, or any moment since then.  I was wrong to be angry at you–but it was only because of how much I missed you.”  He speaks with directness and confidence now.  “I grieved for you every day.  I carried your chanavea next to my heart from the moment the slave master gave it to me until I gave it back to you, like a widower does.  I would never have given Maylani a second thought if not for the kaite’s prophecy–and, well, you know how I misinterpreted that.”

My lips quiver.  My heart is too full, with regret for the past packed in with wonder at Savi’s words and overwhelming love for him.  “Savi–”

He holds up a hand.  “Let me finish.  I know you’re planning to go against Izyphor, like we used to talk about.  I’m coming with you.  I’ll do whatever it takes, whatever you need.  I’ll be your servant, I’ll carry your things, I’ll stand between you and a dozen spears, if that’s what it takes.”

That drives me to my feet.  “I would never let you do those things.  Savi, how could you think⎼”

He stands and wraps my hands in his again, gentle.  “Sh, Rai, I just meant that I have no expectations.  I’ll go with you and not expect anything from you.  But I also have to tell you, I love you more than ever before.  Before you left, I was a child.  Now, I’m an adult, and I’ve tasted grief.  I know what it’s like to lose you.  If you still love me, I will do everything in my power to never lose you again.”

My eyes fill.  I hold his hands tighter.  “Savi.”  I search for the right thing to say.  Aia, give me the words.  Give me wisdom to choose right.  “I never stopped loving you, either.”

Savi’s face morphs from desperation to joy.  His lips split in a grin that shows all his teeth and bunches up his cheeks.  His eyes crinkle at the corners.  He squeezes my hands.  

I squeeze back.

Savi reaches up and runs his fingers along the side of my face.  “Then, Rai, marry me?”

A laugh bubbles out of my mouth.  I think of what Maylani said, before Savi found me.  He might mean right now.  Will I marry him today?  Could I do something so sudden?  While I try to figure out the answer, I pretend I think he just means someday.  “Probably.  I’m fairly certain I’ll never find anyone I can love more than you.”  I feel light, like I could bounce and start floating in the air, like I’m turning into a kaitairie.

Savi tugs my hand, pulling me closer.  “No.  I mean, will you marry me today?  I know it’s sudden, but we’ve lost so much time already.  Why not now?”

Why not now?  

I love him.  I’ve fought it all week and have ended up loving him as deeply as ever.  

Why not now?

I’m trying to be more like I was when I was young, bold, and free.  Being spontaneous about this is scary, but it feels free.  It feels daring.

Why not now?  It was Maylani’s idea.  With Nhardah waiting to take me to Izyphor tomorrow and the future uncertain, I can’t think of any good reason to delay.

“Rai?”  Savi asks.

I beam at him.  “Yes.  I’ll marry you now.”  

Thus ends Part 1 🙂  Let me know your thoughts in the comments, and stay tuned for Part 2 to begin next Monday.

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Child of the Kaites: Chapter 13

Sorry this one is so late today!  My sister got engaged yesterday (yay!!!!!!!!), so I got way too little sleep and topped it off with a really challenging day of substitute teaching.  It took a lot of salsa and tea (my comfort foods), but I finally managed to get this ready for you.

If you need them, find links to previous chapters here.

Child of the Kaites Chapter 13 | Beth Wangler

The world twists into the half-sleep, half-waking realm where dream and reality mingle.  Cold fingers slip up my ankle, but I know it’s a dream.  I’m alone on the beach.

I dream the sea rolls up the shore to cover me like a blanket, though the tide is out.

The dream-water creeps up my shoulders.  It squeezes my throat⎼and I jolt fully awake.  I push against the sand, trying to sit up, but find I’m encased by water.  It presses my arms to my sides.  It squeezes my throat.  It cuts off my breath. Continue reading

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Child of the Kaites: Chapter 12

It’s hard to believe we’re already 12 chapters in!  I finally got down to creating this table of contents page to make it easier for you to find earlier chapters.  Anyways, I hope you’re enjoying Child of the Kaites, and I hope you’ll let me know your thoughts as we keep moving forward 🙂

Fun fact: I wrote the original version of this chapter in my sleep.  And by that, I mean it came to me in a dream.  It’s changed a lot since then.  There was a heartbreaking time when I thought I would have to cut it entirely.  Anyways, I’m pleased to bring to you Chapter 12.

Child of the Kaites Chapter 12 | Beth Wangler

By the time evening falls, my scrolls and the least Iranine, most serviceable of my clothing are bundled in a sack and Maylani’s bridal shawl is finished.  When Nhardah-Lev calls, I will be ready.  All that remains is for me to dress for the night’s festivities.

Tonight is the eve of the wedding.  Iranine custom reserves this night for a private dinner at which only the bride’s family is allowed.  I am not technically family, and now everyone knows that, so I’m excluded from Mayli’s last dinner as an unmarried woman.

“If I had my way, you would be with us,” Maylani says.  The candlelight from inside the house and the warmth of the evening sky shine in her brown eyes, casting soft light over her cascading curls.  Her simple white dress sets off her glowing bronze skin.  Even in plain clothing, she is beautiful.

“There’s nothing I can do, though,” Mayli continues.  “You’ll be okay.  You’ll be with Saviayr and his family, and Sandat will make sure you have fun.  You will be fine, right?”

“Mayli.”  I lay a hand on her arm.  “I understand.  I’ll be fine.  Go, enjoy the night with your family.”

Maylani nods, hesitates, and leaves me on the porch by the front door.  I won’t see her again until she appears for the ceremony tomorrow morning.

The bride’s family must have a private dinner, but the groom’s family and the rest of Ira will feast and dance in the canvas tents erected on the cliff over my secret beach.  No matter how much I want to hide until the wedding’s over and I can focus on inciting a rebellion, I must join the party.  I take a deep breath, force my lips into a smile, and step down from the porch.

Tomorrow’s celebration will reflect the wealth of the bride and bridegroom’s families, but tonight is the whole island’s undertaking.  I pause when the towering tents come into view, bold against the sunset sky.  The beauty surprises me.  “Thank you, Aia,” I whisper in appreciation.

Inside, tables and benches flank the tents’ walls, leaving the centers open for mingling.  Later, when the musical Iranines begin performing, dancing couples will fill the free space.

Most islanders are here already.  They feast on wheat bread, pomegranates, figs, cheeses, lentil soup, and an unusual abundance of roasted pork, beef, and sheep.

It surprises me when I know the names of everyone I see.  Then I feel foolish for being surprised.  Ira is small; I would have had to try to avoid meeting everyone on the island in the past couple years.

Across this tent, I glimpse someone I know more than I know the Iranines.  For a brief moment, Saviayr and I lock eyes.  

I still love him.  It washes over me like a wave at high tide.  I’ll never forget him, the boy who found me in the river, who swore to be my partner and free our people.  But I have to separate myself from the past.  He’s marrying Maylani.  I’m fighting for Maraiah.

I turn my head, and then Savi is gone, caught up in the crush.

Filling a plate, I eat in silence.  Then feasting slows and melodies trickle through the tent walls.  The music draws those young enough to dance as the moons draw the tides.  For a couple of songs, I join in and try to forget about tomorrow’s wedding.  Then I glance Saviayr, closer than before.

Any enjoyment I could have found in tonight evaporates.  I can’t handle talking with him tonight.  There is no point in remaining and risking running into him.

Besides, I’ll be gone in two days.  It doesn’t matter what the Iranines think of my absence.  I have nothing to prove to these people who have done nothing to protest Izyphor’s wickedness.

Alone, I push between people.

I leave the merrymaking and duck out into the night with a heavy heart.  The cool sweetness of the air outside reveals how stuffy the tents are.  I relish the sea breeze.  When I’m back in Izyphor gathering the Maraians, nights will be almost as hot as the day.  There will be no cool stirring of the air as there is here.

Since it may be my last opportunity, I should bid my spot of beach farewell.  

At the bottom, soft sand fades into a bed of sea shells and rocks revealed by the abnormally-low tide.  I lay my head against the tree’s trunk and wrap an arm around it.  My skin detects no quiver of energy beneath its bark, nor the slightest unnatural movement in its limbs.  This tree, though alive, feels dead to me.  My kaites aren’t here.  I am alone.

I’m alone, and I’m going to have to free Maraiah alone.  I have no idea how to start being the leader of a revolt.

Approaching feet crunch the gravel behind me.  It’s probably Nhardah.  Maybe I won’t have to do this completely alone.  

“How can I stand up to the Izyphorns in a way that won’t get me promptly arrested and killed?” I ask the Firstborn.

“Um, what?”

My heart jumps into my throat as I whirl.  “Savi,” slips out reflexively.

He crunches a couple steps closer, fists shoved into his tunic pockets.  “What do you mean about standing up to Izyphor?”

I shake my head.  “Nothing, forget it.  I thought you were someone else.”

Savi’s mouth quirks up.  “Clearly.  Who?  Are you planning something?”

I haven’t told anyone except Nhardah.  Savi might be the best person to tell first.  After all, this was the dream that kept us going through our adolescence.  It was what brought us together in the first place.

“What are you doing here?” I ask instead.  “Your wedding is tomorrow.”

“I know that.”  Saviayr moves closer, close enough that I can see his eyes.  He stares at me with single-minded intensity, like I’m the only thing in the world that matters right now.  It’s too much.  My throat feels swollen.  “Please, tell me.  What are you planning?  Are you going to do it?”

Even with our time apart, Savi still won’t let me skirt around and brush him off.  He still sees into my words and is trying to make me share my burden with someone.  That was how I first realized that I loved him, back in the slave camp, and tonight it might be my undoing.

“I don’t know what you mean,” I lie.  Anything that will get him to leave.

“Yes, you do.”  Savi steps closer still.  He takes my hand.  “Rai, if you’re going to go against Izyphor and free our people, I want to help.”

“You have to think about Maylani,” I say.

Saviayr blinks.  “That’s actually what I wanted to talk to you about.”

I pull my hand from his and turn away.  “I understand.  You’ve moved on.  Savi, it’s okay.  I just want you both to be happy.  There’s nothing to talk about.”

“That’s not what I was going to say.”  Saviayr steps to the side, to where I can see him from the corner of my eye.

I turn my head away.  “Please, Savi.  If we’re going to be friends, we have to put the past behind us.”

Saviayr grips my shoulders and turns me to face him.  “If you’d just let me–”

I push his hands away.  “I need to be alone.  I have to focus on the future now.  Go.  Be with Maylani.”

We face each other, neither talking.  Then Savi’s shoulders sag.  He shakes his head.  “Fine.  Peace to you, Rai.”
I stare at the moonlit sea, blinking to stop the water from blurring with the sky.  Deep breaths—that will keep the tears at bay.

        Savi’s footsteps swish away through the sand.  Everything in me wants to call him back.  I don’t want to lose him.  I know, just as I know that the sun will shine in the morning and that the Izyphorns will never release the Maraians easily, that I’ll never love anyone else as much as I loved him.

        It wasn’t fair to silence him.  But I can’t hear what he might have to say.  Why did this happen tonight, of all times?  Why not when he first appeared at Tatanda’s door?  It’s too late to change anything, and I need to focus on taking a stand against the greatest empire in the world.

        It’s not fair.  The injustice overcomes my last restraint.  I crouch at the edge of the sea and let the tears slide down my face.

        Tomorrow, Savi marries Maylani.

        The next day, I announce revolution against Izyphor.

        Within the week, I’ll probably be dead.

Dun dun dun….

Let me know your thoughts in the comments 🙂

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Child of the Kaites: Chapter 11

Wow, we’re already eleven chapters in!  If you need them, you can find previous chapters here.  Are you ready to find out who Lev really is?  Then read this chapter 🙂

Child of the Kaites Chapter 11 | Beth Wangler

A dream awakens me, though its memory is already blurry.  My neck twinges when I sit up.  I blink at the room around me.  Pitka and Maylani share the same pillow, faces tranquil in sleep.  I must have fallen asleep still leaning against the wall, and my back and neck are not pleased with how I spent the night.

I ease off of the mattress, but Pitka stirs anyway.  “Raiba?” she says.

I brush a hand over her forehead.  “Sh, Pipit.  It’s early still.  Go back to sleep.”

Her eyes flutter shut, and I slip out of the room.

In my own room, I roll my head to loosen the crick in my neck and splash water on my face.  The action reawakens the memory of this morning’s dream, at least enough to know that Sandat had grown five times his size and was trampling a village of Maraian slaves, and I was the only one who would stand up to him.  Maylani had clutched my arm, predicting that Sandat would squash me, but I pushed her aside and stood between Sandat and the other Maraians.  I was unarmed, but I had not been afraid.  In the dream, I’d been convinced that Sandat could never get past me.

The dream lacked sense, of course, but I savor how it felt to stand up to Sandat.  In that moment, I felt brave, strong, and free.  In that moment, I didn’t care if I lived or died, I only knew that I was doing the right thing.

I squeeze the towel resting on my dry sink.  I don’t want to lose that feeling, to go back to cowering in the shadows and slinking by while my people die and the powerful trample on the weak.  I want to act.  I want to raise my voice, to stand tall, to say, “Enough.”  I’m tired of being afraid.  I’m tired of biting my tongue and ducking my head.  I hate the thin shadow of myself that I’ve become.

Last night’s dinner conversation rolls back through my head like roiling waves in a storm.

One day we will become a great nation.

All they need is a voice.

Izyphor could have a revolt on their hands.

It’s me.  I’m Raiballeon.  I am the leader of a revolt.

Lev.  It’s time to find him.

The swish of my door announces someone’s arrival.  I expect Pitka, maybe Maylani or Nihae.  A crazy hope flits through my mind that it could be Lev, arrived just at the right moment.

Instead, Tatanda fills the doorway.  I blink at him.

“I was hoping you’d be awake,” Tatanda says, voice low so he won’t awaken Anik next door.

I straighten the towel and drape it over the edge of the sink.  “Is something wrong?” I ask.  I bounce my knee, needing to move, wanting to run out of the house and follow this revelation.

Tatanda gestures at my untouched bed.  “Let’s sit.”

Tucking my hands together in my lap, I perch on the edge of the mattress.  Tatanda sinks down and rests his hands on his legs, palms up.  He inspects his hands for a moment before talking.

“Do you remember when I found you?”

I smile a little.  “Of course.  I was starving, hiding between the scriptorium and the smithy.  You probably saved my life.”

Tatanda chuckles.  “Do you know why I took you in?”

I’ve often wondered that, but never dared ask.  “I always thought you took pity on me.”

“You were pitiful,” Tatanda agrees.  He glances sideways at me, a glimmer of warmth in his amber eyes.  “Mostly, though, it was because the spirits gave me a dream about you the night before.  I thought it was nothing, but then I found myself living in the dream and knew I had to obey.”

That touches me.  Three years of living among the Iranines have convinced that what they call the spirits are actually the kaites.  Over and over, my kaites have looked out for me, even when I had no idea.  “I’m very thankful,” I say.  “I’ve always thought myself fortunate to be part of your family.”

Tatanda’s small smile twists, and his forehead creases.  “I know I’ve been harsh on you,” he says.  “Especially since my wife…well, I’ve criticized you far more than my children.  I hope you know I did it because I wanted you to fit in here.  It would have been bad for both of us if my people thought you weren’t one of us.”

Frustration and resentment wiggle into the warmth I’ve been feeling toward Tatanda and the kaites.  “I guessed as much,” I say.

“I didn’t know you were Maraian.”

“Would it have changed things?” I ask.

Tatanda rubs a hand over his eyes.  “I don’t know.  The spirits still told me…Most of my neighbors hate your people.  It’s best for us Iranines to keep peace with Izyphor.  They could destroy us like a cricket stomped underfoot, and Izyphor especially detests Maraiah.  But my wife’s great grandmother was Maraian, before they became slaves.  And she always said it was our responsibility to help those who needed it.”

Bits of this I’ve guessed, but I don’t know how to respond.  

Tatanda sighs.  “It’s dangerous for me to let Maylani marry Saviayr.  If any Izyphorns cared to look into the marriage, it could seem that Ira is sympathizing with the slaves.  I’m letting her because there aren’t many options on this island, he is in a powerful position, and she loves him.  I can convince my neighbors that marriage to a royal’s personal advisor is more advantageous to our people than marriage to one of their sons with no prospects.  But I can’t be seen as having more sympathies with the Maraians.  Anything else would spell disaster for my family especially, but also for Ira.”

I know what he’s going to say next before he says it, and even though I understand, it makes me angry.

“People know you’re Maraian now.  I think of you as part of the family, Raiba, but after the wedding, you need to find somewhere else to go.  I have to think of Anik and Pitka.”

I stand and brush my skirts.  My jaw clenches.  Raising my chin, I look Tatanda square in the eyes.  “I understand.”  Leader of a Revolt.  “I was planning on leaving, anyway.”

As I turn to leave the room, Tatanda says, “Raiba, I am sorry.  Please stay for Maylani, for now.”

“I have business to attend to right now,” I say, and leave.  It is time to find Lev.

I don’t know where he’s hiding on the island.  Ira doesn’t offer many hiding places, especially for an adult.  I could check where I last saw him, around Crazy Tolak’s bay, but the memory of the aivenkaite grasping at my ankles deters me.  The marketplace seems as likely a place as any to begin, so I take the path down to the harbor as the sun trails new light over the sea.

Despite my intention of locating Lev, he finds me.  “Out alone at this time of day?” I hear behind me in the market.  “How did you manage to escape?”

I spin around.  He’s standing alone in the middle of the path, but he still manages to look like he’s reclining against something.  His lips quirk into a smile.

“I know who you are,” I say.  I stand straight, more confident that I’ve ever been around him.

His mahogany eyes squint at me, then he straightens up.  “Let’s go somewhere we can talk.”  Then he whirls and strides up the seldom-used path to the top of the farming hill.  We pass plots of beans, cucumbers, and onions almost ready to pick.  I have to skip every few steps to keep up.

At the very top of the hill, empty with yellow curtains flapping in the wind, hunches the marriage hut.  Like all newly-wed Iranines, Maylani and Saviayr will spend their first night here tomorrow.  I push aside the heaviness that fills my stomach with that thought and focus on the man I’m with.  He stops several paces from the hut and twists his legs into pretzel positions as he sinks to the dirt.

“By all means, sit.”  He sweeps his arm over the ground beside him.

I obey, trying to keep my back as straight as his.

“Now, what did you have to tell me?” he asks.

I take a deep breath.  “I know who you are.”


“You’re Nhardah.  Nhardah the Firstborn.”

He glances at me.  “Very astute, Raiballeon.  Yes, I was.  But ‘Lev’ is a more accurate name as long as my children—well, you know the situation of my children.”

“I can’t call you ‘Sorrow,’” I protest.

Nhardah-Lev purses his lips and looks back at the sky, which is brighter now.  “I suppose not,” he agrees.  “Well, since you discovered it, you may use my birth name.”

The reality of who he is hits me.  I am sitting next to a truly ancient man.  The Firstborn.  After growing up with the kaites, I thought I was beyond awe of humans, but Nhardah may be the only exception.  He saw Aia-Thaies face to face.  No other living human has done that.  He’s seen the kingdoms begin, seen Orrock and ierah split, lived through the stories I’ve only memorized.

Pipit would squeal loud enough to deafen all within a mile if she knew.

Despite that, something feels familiar about him.  Nhardah-Lev reminds me of the kaites, though he is undeniably solid and human while they were unmistakably ephemeral.  I search for a word to describe it.  He and they have perceivable power, but it’s more than that.

Goodness.  Both Nhardah and the kaites feel good, on a more intrinsic level than anything I’ve ever encountered.  That goodness gives me courage to continue.  “I also know who I am.”

Nhardah cocks his head to the side.  Inside his ancient eyes, I see hope.

“The answer to your question,” I say.  “I’m Raiballeon.  I’m the Leader of a Revolt.  I can lead Maraiah to rebel against Izyphor and gain their freedom.”

Nhardah’s dark face wrinkles in the brightest smile I’ve ever seen.  “I knew you would figure it out.”  He peers at me.  “You say you can be your name.  Will you?”

It will mean leaving Ira.  It will mean an uncertain future with probable danger.  This is what I once planned on doing, before I had to flee the slavemaster.  But before I gave up this dream, I was going to accomplish it with help.  Now Saviayr has chosen a different path, one with Maylani.  I will do it alone.

Logic says I should say no.  Izyphor is undefeatable.  I am just one girl.

But I have no place here, no where else to go.  The slave master is dead.  My people have suffered too long.

I already made my decision before leaving the house.  Now I must confirm it.  A spark of the passion I had as a child glows in me.  If Aia thinks I can do it, who can say no?  I was brave, confident, unhindered by fear, and I can be again.

I want to be again.

“Yes.”  My reply comes out as a squeak, so I clear my throat and try again.  “Yes.  I will be my name.  I am Raiballeon, and I will lead Aia’s people out of slavery and into our inheritance.  So long as He helps me.”

There is no sudden burst of wind.  No ray of light shines brilliantly upon us.  Nothing indicates this statement’s magnitude to the island around us.  The only that proof I actually vocalized my resolution is my ancestor’s dazzling grin.

“Hæ-Aia!” Nhardah-Lev exclaims.  He shoves his fists toward ierah with a whoop that echoes between the three hills of Ira.  I haven’t heard the Maraian expression of joy in years, so I translate it in my head.  Hæ-Aia—Aia saves.  A prayer for Him to act and a praise that He has done so.

My lips stretch in an impulsive smile.  “Hæ-Aia,” I agree.

“This is perfect,” Nhardah gesticulates.  I can’t tell whether he is talking to me or an invisible kaite, which now seems to explain some of his earlier erratic behavior. That night with the falling indree—he must have been going to talk to Mithrida, his wife the kaite.  She must be whispering in his ear, incorporeal.  “The wedding’s tomorrow—yes, you’d better act quickly—so we’ll leave in two days.  Just in time for the Feast of Wheat, so they’ll all be gathered.  Send word to the others that we have our champions and need what’s in their care.  Raiballeon, be sure to pack today.”

“O-okay.”  It sounds like a question, but he does not notice.  “Wait, you said champions?  Who is the other?”

“Did I?  Don’t worry about it.”  Nhardah’s eyes glint in the sun.  “I must be off on business now.  Peace to you.”

To the Firstborn’s back I reply, “May it also return to you.”

Alone, I breathe deeply and exhale.  The smile stays on my face of its own accord.  I do have a great calling on my life, after all.  My original interpretation of Taikah’s prophecy was right.  Where do I start?

Lev’s instruction returns to me.  If I am leaving, first I must prepare.  I may not know how to talk to a king and royals, or how to gather Maraiah, or even where exactly our promised homeland is, but I do know how to pack my few belongings.  I can begin there.

There you have it!  I was very excited to share this week’s chapter with you.  Come back next week to see what happens next, and please let me know what you think in the comments.  Were you surprised by Lev’s identity?  How do you feel about Rai’s decision?

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Child of the Kaites: Chapter 10

By the time this post is published, I’ll be taking the English CSET.

^^How I’m feeling about that test.

So I hope you all enjoy this chapter while I’m writing my brains out and sweating over literary movements and blocking techniques and schools of criticism and sentence diagrams.  Only one of us needs to suffer right now 🙂

If you need them, you can find previous chapters here.

Child of the Kaites Chapter 10 | Beth Wangler

Moments before, Ira felt like it could fit on the eye of a needle.  Now it feels impossibly large.

I used to think Pitka was safe.  How much trouble could a little girl get into on such a small island, without coyotes or any other predators except the occasional hawk and rattlesnake?  Now, the dangers seem endless.  Whenever the ground dips, my heart jumps to my throat.  I glance over at Saviayr, so close to the edge of the coast.  In how many places does the shore drop down into cliffs dozens of feet tall?  Pipit could so easily have wandered too close and slipped to her death. Continue reading

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Child of the Kaites: Chapter 9

We’re already nine chapters in!  How crazy is that!  If you’re just joining us, or need a refresher, you can find previous chapters here.

Child of the Kaites Chapter 9 | Beth Wangler

           The next morning, with a headache already threatening, I pour over my finished scrolls, checking for anything to confirm or disprove my theory about Lev.  

        Everything agrees.  I know who Lev is, though I can hardly believe it.

        I close my desk and indulge in an unproductive rest on the swing.  A cloak of haze hovers above Ira this morning.  The rising sun burnishes the foggy sky in brilliant shades of gold.  The ocean is invisible right now.  More than usual, this lack of clarity in the air makes me feel trapped.  Lev being here has to mean something.  Something important is happening.  I long to be a part of it, not just trapped here in exile.

Just as I begin to think of breakfast, Saviayr rounds the corner.  He slows but continues approaching in an awkward, uncertain gait.  At least the anger that has been constantly in his face since our reunion is gone.  I breathe in relief.  “Good morning,” Savi says.

        “Good morning.”  I should offer him a seat.  The obvious seat is next to me on the swing, but such close proximity is not wise, and sharing a swing feels like family.  I could leave him standing, be impolite.  Or I could offer my desk chair, which is noticeably distant from the swing, though far less comfortable than my current seat.

        I settle on the chair, despite its shortcomings.  “Sit?”  I inject as little command as possible into my tone and gesture at the desk chair.  Saviayr can stay standing if he wishes.

        He accepts the offer in a strained voice, stiffly lowering himself onto the chair.  “Rai, I think we need to talk.” Continue reading

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Child of the Kaites: Chapter 8

Find previous chapters here.

Child of the Kaites Chapter 8 | Beth Wangler

A shooting star.  My breath catches in my throat.  “Yes,” my voice shakes as I rub Pitka’s back.  “Very good.  Now, why don’t you go and wash up real quick?” I suggest.  “I’ll be in to tuck you in and sing you a lullaby in a moment.”

“Okay,” she agrees, giving me a quick hug with her tiny arms.  “Good night, Saviayr.”

He is still standing on the walkway, his face in the shadows.  “Good night, Pitka,” he replies.  I have to guess his expression, but he sounds fond of her.  Then I chastise myself.  There are more pressing matters on hand than Savi’s opinion of my littlest cousin.

He moves to follow Pitka inside, but I stop him with a soft, “May I speak with you?”

He does not turn to look at me, but he pauses where he is, one foot on the bottom step up to the porch.

In a second, Pitka is out of earshot.  “Savi,” I leave no room for nonsense in my voice, “I know you saw it.” Continue reading

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