Nialane Antaeus/The Hunt Begins

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From Nia's Diary I wanted so badly to know what my father’s family was like. I have only met one of my relatives from his side, which happened to unfortunately be my psychotic uncle Nakim. I wondered if they were all like that; if they would love me; if they would be glad that I was alive. Hushed and whispered I have often heard my grandfather’s and my other uncle’s name spoken in the temple, but not in a way that I would consider endearing. Their names are uttered as blasphemy, like those of traitors or murderers.

And perhaps it was because of what happened to my father. All engineered, of course, by Nakim. His heinous deeds had earned my father a one way ticket out of his family. Abandoned and forgotten by those who should have loved him. Because of his father’s decision, my dad had been alone in the world until aunt Dexamene and aunt Kallidora, and then me.

I knew that morning that dad was unhappy, that something was wrong. Very rarely did the voice he spoke through our linked minds sound so weary, veiled with fear. I couldn’t understand it. I thought he would be happy that his father was coming to straighten things out, to make them right again. But it was not to be. He told me we wouldn’t be going to the surface to see his father, my grandfather, that night. I couldn’t understand why…that was until he told me that he would take me away. Why he would want something that he had never wanted to happen, thought of as an abomination, was beyond what I could comprehend. I’m still afraid of the day that he finds out I exist, though I am sure my father lives in a thousand times more fear than I do. I still don’t understand all that they are capable of.

My father took my hand and led me from the temple that morning. We trained and traveled the day away. I had even forgotten that grandfather was coming… Then this expression came over my father’s face. One of total relief, as though the burden had been lifted away from him. He was gone, just as quickly as he had come. We could hear the King’s words through our minds clear as crystal next: Nakim was to die. I was almost afraid of the vindictive stare that overpowered dad’s gentle eyes. Though Nakim did not stand before him, it was though my father could see his death, and he was glad for it.

I didn’t want it to continue any longer. In my heart I had known the only resolution would be for him to die—one of us had to, otherwise he would have hunted me to the end of his days. But I was not glad for death, not in any form, and neither was my teacher Pello. Still mourning his fallen mentor, he wished for the same fate for Nakim, as the sky wishes for air.

Then it came. The Kaet Eximo stood before us, and I was both terrified and curious. It was cold hearted, uncaring, and malicious, taunting our King and mocking him. The adults all seemed to know something that we children did not, and we were curious to find out. Renenutet kept trying to approach the mercenary in soldier’s garb, sticking her tongue out at it. Then it dawned on me—my grandfather had sent it, maybe it knew of him. I wanted to know more of him instantaneously.

“So he’s grandfather’s servant? I want to say hi,” I told my father through our mind connection. The response was something I had never expected. With a force of sheer denial more powerful than I had ever felt, he snapped back with a curt and final “no”. It hurt. I whimpered inaudibly, holding my head gently. My father’s face dropped, though he did not reach for me. He attempted to soothe me out of ear’s reach, in our guarded minds, telling me, “I’m sorry daughter. Your curious nature could be the death of you with this one.”

He was definitely scary. The Arrow my grandfather had sent to quickly dispatch the one he had once called his son was not only unpleasant, he did whatever he was commanded. Anything. Uncle Leviathas seemed not only unhappy he stood in our temple, more so though that he was supposed to command it. I stood back and watched it carefully. Dad didn’t tell me very often that he expected anyone to die, much less me, so I didn’t want to take any chances. As I watched it turn its back and walk from our temple to follow its order, I told dad silently, “I want to know something about him. About them. Anything. Something.” Dad seemed so sad as he told me quietly, “You will learn more then you could have wanted to.” The sorrow flowed from his mind for a split second before I could feel the connection close off. Sometimes I didn’t let go of something I wanted easily, and that was dad’s only way to stop me. As logical as he could be, every once in a while I could be undeniably charming, and I would get my way. But this was not to be one of those instances. He liked to reserve those moments for something silly or small, or for when I was out of candy.

It was take more than my charm to get information on them, but I could tell he was upset, and I wasn’t going to press it and make it worse. I grasped his hand and rested my head on his shoulder. My mood had begun to slip. I hated it when I made him sad. Sinking to the ground, I began to ponder what use I would have in the coming battle, eventually realizing that as a healer, and Nakim’s most important living target, I would be more of a liability than an asset. Besides, I was not relishing the thought of having to face Nakim. As Renny begged my teacher Pello to come along on the hunt for the condemned, he told her that he would not endanger more of the young children without the permission of the elders.

“More?” There was almost a snappy tone underneath the ocean of melancholy. “You barely let me make hand to hand contact! Blind, confuse…that’s all I do!” Pello could see it in my eyes as I looked up from the ground. “Nia, you’ve done quite well, you’re just unsure of yourself. That’s all.”

But the King wouldn’t hear any of this. Not now. Dad helped me up from the ground as the King approached. “Look at me children,” Leviathas commanded before advancing the volume of his voice so that all of Atlantis could hear him speak: “The tide of sorrow has washed away. We've a purpose....we've a goal. Those of you born of blood and steel, born and raised for battle and glory, will find it in our hunt. The transgressor's protection has been lifted. Fear not war with the Antaeus house, for there shall be none. Now, hear this....Nakim, formerly of the house of Antaeus, has been judged...the sentence is DEATH. BRING ME HIS HEAD. THIS, I COMMAND!”

Renny almost reminded me of a hungry tiger, the wild look in her eyes as she thought of wielding her flaming sword. But I guess she was just hungry. She must have been to ask Osanna for supper before the hunt. Rarely would Renny pass up an opportunity for a fight…

What are black eyed peas anyways? I lived on a farm and never saw them once. That was what Osanna suggested, but judging by the look on Renny’s face they must be gross, cause Renny will eat just about anything.

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