A light wind blew, rustling the leaves of the trees overhead. Raúl felt a wave of emotion pass over her as Kaliki’s mind touched her own. He sat near a tree and spoke not a word, yet she could hear his voice as if he were sitting right next to her.
“How do you think she will react?” His thoughts were strong, and Raúl could feel his doubt and fear flow into her consciousness.
“Like anyone would after being told that everything they’ve known in their life is a lie.” Raúl allowed her thoughts to flow over the mental link they shared.
“And how would that be?” Kaliki asked.
“What if she refuses to come with us?” Again, doubt and fear washed over Raúl.
“The boy, Meko, will make her come. She trusts him, and he’s on our side.” Raúl tilted her head to look at the first star appearing in the pitch- black sky.
“Let us just hope that he stays on our side,” Kaliki replied.
Raúl relaxed as the ebb and flow of Kaliki’s mind receded from her own as he drifted asleep. Raúl gazed at the stars above and let herself slip into the half- conscious trance that passed for sleep.
The sun began to rise, bringing with it streaks of gold. This morning, though, Kiya did not feel the usual warmth and joy. Today she only felt coldness, anxiousness, and above all, fear. The ring on her finger was unusually cold, and her brother Meko was nowhere to be found.
Raúl awoke to the burning cold of the ring on her finger. She sat up and reached out with her mind, hoping to find Kaliki. A strong feeling of sympathy flooded over her mind as she found him.
“You didn’t sleep well,” he said, “You were moaning all night.” His thoughts were calm and empathetic.
“When, in the weeks since we left, have I slept well?”
“You have a point. Are you strong enough to travel? If we start now we should get to her by sunset.” Kaliki walked into sight, holding a container with fresh water.
“Yes, I am strong enough.” Raúl stood up and walked over to Kaliki, taking the water as he handed it to her. As soon as Raúl finished drinking they set off towards the source of the Imakula River.
Meko approached his home, carrying the animals he had killed. Kiya was at the stables, feeding the horses. When she looked up and saw him, she set the bucket of feed on the ground and walked over to him.
“Was the hunting good?” she asked him.
“It was fine,” he said, and handed her the bag of animals. “I have to go out again.”
“Hunting again? But you’ve caught plenty! And besides, you just came home.” Kiya protested.
In his mind, Meko toyed with the thought of letting Kaliki and Raúl find their own way to them. He dismissed the thought almost immediately. “I’m not going hunting again, but I have to go, Kiya. I have no other choice. Promise me that you’ll stay here.”
“I can’t promise you that,” Kiya responded flatly.
“Then I will go without you, and if you follow me you will wish that you had stayed here and waited for me to return. The choice is yours, Kiya.” Meko was becoming impatient. If Kaliki and Raúl did not see him at the meeting place they would continue on without him, and that was far too dangerous because they did not know where the drop-off was. If they fell off the drop-off and were killed there would be no hope for Kiya and the rest of the world.
“Why would I wish that?” She asked, looking at him even more intently than before. When he did not respond she persisted. “What is going on, Meko?”
“I can’t tell you,” he replied flatly, avoiding her determined gaze.
“Why not?” Kiya demanded.
“For two reasons. One: I’m sworn to secrecy. Two: you’ll find out soon enough,” he said, looking up at her. He flinched as he saw distrust flash in her soft blue eyes. Those eyes had always been trusting. “I have to go now. If you’re coming stay with me, if not go in the house and stay there.” He said the words with regret. Meko did not regret that he said them; he regretted taking the oath that prevented him from telling Kiya what was going on. He wished that he could tell her because he hated seeing that she did not trust him.
“I will stay,” said Kiya. Without looking at her brother, Kiya turned on her heels and walked towards her home. At this moment, she hated it. What she had grown up in and loved was now a source of hatred and confinement.
Meko walked away, stopping only to look back and give a faulty smile to Kiya as she paused at the door. Again he wished that he could tell her everything that he knew. She had grown up knowing and loving him as a brother, and even though he was not her brother, Meko still loved Kiya and would do anything to protect her.
Raúl and Kaliki cautiously approached the small lake. They kept their minds open, searching for any signs of danger. They did not see Meko, so they stayed hidden under the cover of the foliage of a large tree.
Meko moved quickly over the barren landscape. Whenever he could, he kept to the trees and undergrowth so as not to be seen by unintended eyes. He only slowed down when he approached the small lake. He hid in the foliage and searched for Kaliki and Raúl, but he did not see them. After searching for them for several moments, they stepped into sight. Raúl was taller now than she had been when he had last seen her. Now her black hair was halfway down her back. Her face had aged slightly, though she still had a dark tan skin tone and a soft complexion. One thing, however, had not changed. Her eyes were still the same soft blue that they had always been. She was truly Kiya’s sister. Kaliki had also changed, but not as much as Raúl. His dark hair was cut in a way that fit his long, slender face. He looked a little bit stronger, and his green eyes showed that he was tired.
“Kiya is…” Meko began, but he was quickly silenced by Raúl. He felt warmth in his mind as Raúl let her thoughts flow into his.
“Don’t speak about Kiya aloud, not here,” Raúl said, “Many spies lurk in this land. They are paid by magicians who supported my father, many of whom want to bring him back, and to do that they need Kiya because they cannot break my mind. Kiya is far weaker than me, though, and she would be at their mercy in a matter of moments.”
“I agree. Let’s go.” Meko led them towards the path that led away from the lake. They moved quicker than Meko would have liked, even though he did not want to leave Kiya alone any longer than he had to. They stopped only once to drink and rest. The entire time Raúl’s mind felt like an extension of his own. Normally he did not allow people to stay in his mind, and he had not taught Kiya how to transfer thoughts. With Raúl, though, things were different. Her mind was not cold like many others. It was warm and inviting.
Kiya watched from the window, wondering when Meko would be back. After about four hours of sitting by the window, he came into sight. Kiya was about to run to him, until she saw the man and woman following him.
Kiya looked at the door as Meko and the two strangers came in. After the strangers were inside, Meko closed and locked the door as he had done so many times before. This time she felt uneasy, not sure what was going on or what would happen next.
“Who are they?” She asked Meko, glancing nervously at the two strangers.
“She doesn’t remember us,” the woman said. Her voice was cool and calm. “I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.”
“This is Kaliki,” said Meko, gesturing towards the young man.
“Hello.” His voice was as sweet and smooth as warm honey and his green eyes sparkled.
“Hi,” Kiya said, her voice shaking slightly.
“There’s no reason for you to fear us,” Kaliki said.
“This is Raúl,” Meko said.
“Hello, Kiya,” the young woman said.
“How do you know my name?” Kiya was confused and afraid.
“Why should I not know your name?” Raúl asked, “I am your sister after all.”
“My sister? I don’t understand,” Kiya said, “Meko, do you know what she’s talking about?”
“Yes. She is your sister.” Meko avoided her gaze.
“You must be mistaken. Meko is the only family that I have left,” said Kiya.
“No, he’s not. He’s not your brother, either,” said Raúl.
“Meko, is this true?” Kiya asked.
“Yes,” He replied.
“If you’re not my brother, then who are you?”
“He’s a soldier employed by our mother to keep you safe,” said Raúl.
“Our mother? She’s alive?” Kiya asked.
“Yes, and we’re going to see her,” said Raúl, smiling at Kiya.
“What do you mean we?” Kiya asked, “I’m not going anywhere with any of you. Not now, not ever!”
“You must come with us,” Meko said.
“Why should I trust you?” Kiya spat, “You’ve lied to me my whole life.”
“I had to, it was the only way I could keep you safe,” Meko said.
“Kiya, if he had told you the truth what would you have done?” Kaliki asked. It was the first time that he had spoken since he said hello.
“I don’t know,” Kiya admitted.
“Well I do; you would have run away and you would’ve been killed.” Something about him made Kiya feel safe.
“Fine, I’ll come with you, but don’t think for a single moment that I trust any of you,” Kiya said.
“Alright, now that that’s settled, we leave at dawn,” Raúl said.