the first part of the first chapter
The night the child was discovered, dark clouds had blotted out the moon as rain tore through the forest. Shaman Yon, leader of Makiista Clan, had finished pouring through potion recipes for fertility, but there were none as infertility was not a sickness that could be healed. For years he and his wife, Cerenti, had tried, but without success. They had about exhausted their options. With a heavy heart, Yon had set out into the rain to return home. As he left the library, he heard a sound behind the storm, like a mewling wail of a child. He paused to listen, twitching his ears, trying to find the source, but it was gone.
“I must be tired,” he muttered and was about to make his way up the hill to home, when the wail pierced the air loud and clear. Yon snapped his head toward the forest. Slipping on the mud, he scrambled to the arch gate, peering into the shadows where thick branches swayed as the wind roared.
The child mewled again, louder.
“Where are you?” Yon called. A child wouldn’t survive this storm. He leapt into the forest onto the well-used path. The leaves on the ground were slick and he fell many times, but continued to search for the child. Branches scratched his arms and face. A root tripped him, and he tumbled into a thorn bush. Blood smeared across his lips.
Yon shivered on the ground, dragging himself up, eyes gleaming with determination to find the wailing child. If there was one thing he had learned being a leader was that he must protect every life that resided in his clan even at the cost of his own.
When the storm had retreated, and the rain had calmed, Yon stumbled into a small, moonlit clearing with a raven statue. There, at the foot of the statue, an overturned basket lay. Yon turned it over to find a tattered white cloth with “Pinti” embroidered across it. The bundle moved, a mewling cry came muffled.
“Sound of rain?” he breathed out, picking the child up gently in his arms as it cried. She was covered in dirt. Yon used the cloth to wipe her fur. He paused, gasping at what he saw. Her fur was the deepest azure he had ever seen with dark blue stripes almost black. In the moonlight, her fur reflected purple hints. What was most striking were her eyes—blue, like all Makiista Kathula, but with hints of orange specks sparkling within. No Kathula in all the four clans looked like her.
“Where’s your mother?” he whispered. “Are you all alone?”
At that moment, the child’s forehead glowed beneath the dirt. With the cloth, Yon wiped her forehead, revealing her Lunar Marking—two triangular moons, one inside the other, with a runic symbol shaped like an hourglass in the middle. Only the leaders of Kathulan clans could have these marks. Partners would be gifted the mark during the wedding ceremony. Children would receive it from their parents. The marking held Kathula magick, a gift from the moon to relax bodies and heal wounds, even cure deadly diseases.
“But which clan?”
He would decide to search for her parents in the morning, but when Pinti’s azure paw grabbed onto his thumb, his heart swelled with love and he couldn’t bare to let her go.
Shaman Yon would return home to Cerenti who insisted he find the child’s parents.
“No, she’s a gift,” he said, “The Lunar Goddess heard our prayers. She’s ours, Cerenti.”
Cerenti shook her head. “We can’t just take a child. What if her parents are looking for her? Promise me you will report at the leader’s meeting?”
“Alright, but if no one knows, she stays with us.”
The following day at the leader’s meeting, Yon would take Pinti to show to the other leaders in hopes of finding her parents. But no one had ever seen a Kathula like her. That day, Yon and Cerenti adopted Pinti as their own. They would raise her as their only child for eight years until, miraculously, Cerenti would become pregnant and give birth to Tendri. Pinti and Tendri would be inseparable for many years to come.
“And that’s my story,” Pinti said, smiling to her sister. It was Pinti’s fifteenth birthday, and Tendri had asked about her story for the hundredth time. Now, she sprawled on Pinti’s bed, picking at a thread.
“What about mine?” Tendri whined.
“Well, you came out of Mother’s stomach, cried a lot, ate a lot, and now you’re seven.”
“Eight.” Tendri insisted although her birthday wasn’t until a week later. “So, you don’t remember your birth mother?”
Pinti shook her head. “I don’t remember anything.” But this wasn’t entirely true. Sometimes she would dream about a Kathula male with black fur. And in that dream, she knew his name, but when she woke, it would slip away.
- Does it draw you in?
- Would you read on?
- Any points of critique?