I arrived at the stadium where the test was taking place, I went for to the private box, Alkaia and her people were already there. They were seated, but I remained standing, I took my place at the back, out of their way. From there I had a perfect view of the arena, I could see Alkaia’s daughter and her cousins preparing for the tests. A group of people, warriors and slaves, were setting some targets on one side, while others prepared a table with weapons.
Many Amazons were there, high ranking officials and favorites were present, as well as every warrior who could escape her daily duties to see her leader’s daughter earn her name.
“Sisters,” Alkaia commanded everyone’s attention, “today, two of our daughters will earn their names and become officially warriors of our Clan. Today, they will prove their worth through a series of tests, by the end we will decide what name they deserve.” Everyone’s eyes were focused on Alkaia, they were listening to her words, but they knew that more than a name was in play, after all, they didn’t need a ceremony for that, unlike my own Clan, an Amazon mother could choose her daughter’s name at any time and under any circumstance. No, this test was about their futures, Alkaia’s heiress was going to be decided, the one who would lead them once Alkaia was no longer there. “First test will be a test of marksmanship. Enjoy the show.”
I knew that Alkaia’s daughter had the advantage in the test. Her aim had been good to start with, but under my tutelage it had been perfected, she was not going to fail. They started with firearms, going through different kinds and then they changed to bow and arrow. All of them did an impressive job, just like I knew they would. The aim of all of them was perfect during the first round, even Bremusa’s youngest was good, despite a couple of bad first shots.
They were evenly matched during the first round, so after allowing them to choose their favorite weapon they changed to moving targets to increase difficulty. When one of them missed a shot they were taken out of the competition. After all of our training I knew that my protégé wasn’t going to have problems with moving targets, but I found myself holding my breath as the competition advanced. After a while they were just two left, Alkaia’s daughter and her rival Valasca were the ones still in the competition, everyone knew that Valasca was the favorite, not only to win the match, but for the title of heiress.
For the first couple of rounds both of them were flawless, not missing a single target. I could see Valasca talking to her cousin, trying to make her lose her focus, her posture was relaxed and non-threatening, but I knew better, she was attacking Alkaia’s daughter, not with her body, but with her words.
Just before the next target was fired Valasca said something that made Alkaia’s daughter turn to look at her, one the target was flying I saw that her focus remained on Valasca as she lifted her pistol and fired at the target. We had trained for that, sometimes you don’t have time to focus, sometimes you have to react by instinct and attack things lurking just out of focus. The target exploded in the air as the bullet found it, another target was fired and Alkaia’s daughter repeated her feat by hitting the target without taking her eyes off of Valasca.
The people on the stadium erupted in applause at the feat, but not everyone was impressed of happy, Polemusa got out of her seat and faced me.
“That was impossible, I’m sure that was your doing.” Polemusa accused, and I decided to misinterpret her meaning.
“Of course is my doing, I’ve been training with her for months, teaching her everything I know. We even practiced her aim while she was blindfolded, currently she can hit a moving target 4 out of 10 times while her eyes are closed. With standing targets her aim is perfect.”
“You’re lying.” Polemusa said as we heard new shoots.
We both moved our attention back to the arena in time to see Valasca trying to duplicate her cousin’s feat. One, two, three shoots resonated in the arena, what was missing was the sound of the target being hit. Finally Valasca moved and put all of her focus in the descending target and finally was able to break it, but it was too late, everyone had seen her missing the firsts shots, everyone had seen her trying to imitate her cousin and failing.
“Your daughter should come to train with us some time, she would benefit from my lessons,” I told a furious Polemusa, “especially in self control.” I added as we saw Valasca trying to attack Alkaia’s daughter after something she had told her.
“While Valasca was able to hit the target, it took several attempts. I think is pretty obvious that my daughter was the winner.” Alkaia informed us before she informed the people of the stadium her decision.
Polemusa walked out of the box, going to look for her daughter. Alkaia motioned Iphito and she left after Polemusa. In the arena people was already working in the next event, many obstacles were being created in preparation for the next test.
“Aren’t you going to talk to your daughter?” I asked Alkaia.
“It’s not necessary, I think is better if I stay away, and you should stay too, I don’t want anyone saying that we were helping my daughter, she has to stand by herself.”
“I hope you know that I would never cheat like that, I believe in the importance of fighting your own battles, and I know that your daughter can hold her own, I’ve done my best to help her grow and I’m sure you will be pleased by the results.”
“I’m pleased so far, but there still more to see.”
The obstacle race went without problems, like most were expecting the youngest ones were among the last to finish, some had some difficulties, but everyone finished the race. Valasca to no one’s surprise was the first to finish, Alkaia’s daughter on the other hand surprised most people by arriving just seconds behind her cousin. I was surprised she hadn’t surpassed her cousin once again, but then I realized with pride that she was holding her ace for the third test, she knew Valasca wasn’t going to be second again without a fight and she didn’t want to show everything she was capable of just yet. I was glad she was thinking and wasn’t taking unnecessary risks.
Finally the third and last test started, it was an old fashioned melee fight. I didn’t need to be a seer to know what was going to happen, it was clear that Valasca and Alkaia’s daughter were the ones they needed to defeat. If Valasca was smart, and I needed to concede that she had occasionally been, she would convince her cousins that it was in their best interest to get rid of Alkaia’s daughter first, and then finish the fight between them. I knew all about that kind of fights, often I have been the one on the receiving end of that strategy, with that in mind I had trained her to survive that fight. We had even practiced the best ways of showing her powers to everyone for the first time. If everything worked according to plan, by the end of the battle Alkaia’s daughter would have more than a name, she would have her Clan’s admirations and respect.
Everything started just like I suspected. None of them had weapons, it wasn’t about that, it was about powers. Alkaia’s daughter tried to stay on the fringe of the battle, for a few moments it even looked like she was running away, she was on defense, for the first few minutes she didn’t even try to attack, she was too busy dodging and blocking. The more she defended the more they went after her, just like an animal smells fear, they were feeling what they perceived to be weakness. Once dodging wasn’t enough, she started to attack, just enough to take one of her cousins off the attack so she could face the others. Soon Valasca was too close to her, her attacks started to connect and it was obvious that if things kept going like that Alkaia’s daughter was going to lose.
Polemusa was beaming, she thought her daughter had already won, didn’t they could see that even resisting the combined attack of her cousins was impressive? No, they didn’t see that, they only cared that she appeared to be losing.
“Alkaia’s daughter!” I screamed over the noise of the spectators and the fight, using my powers I managed to make my voice heard. “It’s time for your Clan to hear your voice.” My voice and mostly my words caused a temporary distraction that gave Alkaia’s daughter enough time to move away from her attackers.
Alkaia turned to see me, surprise and confusion were evident in her face. Everyone knew that her daughter’s voice wasn’t louder than a whisper most of the time, how could it be heard by everyone? Bremusa was even laughing at my words, soon the others joined her, they thought my words were ridiculous.
“Hear my voice and listen to my warning.” Alkaia’s daughter’s voice came loud and clear, it was as if she was standing next to them, it wasn’t yelling from a distance. “The real fight starts now, you can surrender or face me, but I won’t show mercy to those who attack me.”
The silence that followed her words was deafening, and then, suddenly, the whispers erupted, no one understood what was happening.
“Pitonisa, could you explain me what is happening?” Alkaia asked.
“I suggest you watch for now, after the show I’m sure you will have more questions, I will explain later.”
The warriors in the arena recovered fast, they all moved at the same time, it was as if they were all acting as one, everyone wanted to stop Alkaia’s daughter before she could attack. But they made a big mistake, they got too close. Just before Valasca’s fist could reach her, she took a deep breath and then screamed, everyone in the stadium tried to cover their ears, but it wasn’t enough. Alkaia’s daughter’s scream was strong and piercing, it was louder than an explosion and cut like a blade. I saw Valasca stumble, just like two of the warriors behind her, I couldn’t see, but I was sure that blood was running out of their ears. The others were too busy trying to cover their ears, most of them were on the ground, trying to hide from an attack that they weren’t expecting. Being hit by that scream was the equivalent of being hit by a stun grenade at close range.
Alkaia’s daughter walked cautiously to Valasca and pushed her, she was disoriented, deaf and her equilibrium was compromised, it didn’t take much to make her fall, once on the ground she couldn’t stand again. One by one Alkaia’s daughter approached her cousins and took them out of the battle. Her slow, almost lazy movements made her seem fearless and like she was acting superior, but I knew she was being careful, after her training with Kimball she knew better than taking her victory for granted, she needed to make sure they were definitely out of the fight.
Once the last warrior was out, Alkaia’s daughter walked to where her mother and aunts were waiting.
“Congratulations Molpadia.” Alkaia said, using for the first time the name that was going to be used for her daughter from that day forward. “Today you showed us your true power, a power that makes your lineage proud. I welcome you as a warrior of our Clan. I proudly welcome you as my rightful heiress. Come and take your place by my side.”
Molpadia climbed up the stairs to join her mother. Cheers and applause erupted in the stadium. Alkaia was so happy she couldn’t contain the smile from coming to her lips. Molpadia was beaming, she had done an excellent job and she knew it. I suspected her throat was killing her, but the show of power was worth it.
“I don’t get it, what happened?” Polemusa said.
“The reason Molpadia refused to use her voice was because of an unconscious fear of her power. I guess she had already seen how destructive it could be and learned to hide it and fear it. Not speaking was a form of selfprotection.”
“I would never imagine this was possible, I had never seen something like it.” Alkaia said.
“Me neither, lucky for us Kimball, my slave,” I clarified for those who refused to recognize his right to a name, “had experience with this kind of power.”
“Please, don’t tell me that I owe a slave my daughter’s defeat.” Polemusa said, she was beyond mad.
“Not to a slave, to a warrior coming from an old and proud lineage. I can’t believe that you still think of him as a powerless slave, it was a miracle you could capture him, he is more than you give him credit of.”
“You are being ridiculous again,” Bremusa said, “it’s almost as if you respected him.”
“I do, he is a great warrior and a great man, he is by my side because he wants to be, I’m not sure you could hold him like I do, he would leave any of you and you wouldn’t be able to stop him.”
“We’ll test that theory once I have him,” Polemusa said, “it will give me the opportunity to thank him for his help in my niece’s training.”
Even knowing that Kimball was safe from Polemusa’s revenge, I felt scared, the idea of someone hurting Kimball was upsetting, it was pointless to feel that way, but I did. Thanks to me and my stupid advice he could be going to his death.
“Congratulations, my daughter,” Molpadia’s arrival ended our conversation and my dark thoughts. “Today you made me and our Clan proud.”
“Thank you mother.” Listening to Molpadia’s words it was hard to remember the girl she was when I first met her, that girl couldn’t speak louder than a whisper, but now her voice was strong and confident.
“I think I will go to see my daughter,” Polemusa announced before walking out.
“I’ll do the same,” Bremusa said, “I need to give my daughter her name, even if she wasn’t as spectacular as Molpadia, she did a great job today.”
“All of your daughters did a good job today,” I told them, and I was surprised to recognize that I was being sincere, the Amazons were strong, “and don’t worry about them, Molpadia’s attack only burst a few eardrums, nothing a healer can’t fix easily.”
“Speaking out of experience?” Iphito asked.
“Not really, once I found out Molpadia’s power I found the way to neutralize it so it wouldn’t affect me.”
“Are you willing to share the secret with us?” Bremusa asked.
“It would be hard to replicate the trick unless you have aerokinesis and biokinesis to help you.”
“Let’s forget that for the moment,” Alkaia interrupted, “Go get your daughters, make sure they’re ok and join me in the Palace to celebrate my daughter’s victory. Everything should be ready by now. And you my dear Pitonisa will be our guest of honor, what you did for my daughter was spectacular and I can’t thank you enough for your help.”
I went back to my house before heading to the Palace, but as soon as I entered I felt something was wrong, the house was cold and lifeless without Kimball. I went to my room and went into my bed, I didn’t want to move, I wanted to stay there until Kimball was back, if he ever was.
For the first time since I had to let go of Malkia I felt like crying. I couldn’t believe how much I had come to depend on Kimball, in just a few months he had become a part of me, I felt like a part of my soul was missing without him. It was worse than Vasuman’s death, even if I still had a small hope that he could survive his fight. I wanted him to survive, because if he did, maybe, he would find his way back to me.