Chapter Seven

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Lianna woke up abruptly at the sound of soft chirping, the sweet harmonic singing of birds flowing into her ear. The sounds aroused her alertness as her befogged mind began to clear. When she had succumbed to her fatigue she could not fathom. She onl...

Lianna woke up abruptly at the sound of soft chirping, the sweet harmonic singing of birds flowing into her ear. The sounds aroused her alertness as her befogged mind began to clear. When she had succumbed to her fatigue she could not fathom. She only recalled sitting in the partially open drawer, finishing the rest of her meal before lapping the grease off her long, slender fingers, not concerning herself with how undignified she seemed.

Her cheek brushed against something soft as she attempted to turn her head. Confused, Lianna began to shift her entire frame, but found that her movements were restricted, as if she were bound. Her eyes widened when they fell on the white cloth that enveloped her.

Lianna stifled a scream as her feet and fists ripped the fabric off of her, pushing it away in disgust. She soon scrambled into a sitting position and frantically scanned her surroundings before realizing she was in the confines of a narrow box.

She brushed her fingertips against the box’s smooth interior, her hand quivering. The giant called Martin had placed her in this makeshift cot while she slept.

Lianna swallowed hard when the thought of him lifting her up during her slumber flooded her mind. Not once did she stir when his massive fingers touched her skin. Even if she had awakened, her chances of escaping were slim.

This lack of attentiveness was what had made her and her people vulnerable to attack. Her musings travelled back to the night of the invasion, harshly chastising herself for possessing a thin skin. Had she not allowed herself to be distracted by Orktos’s insults, she would have sensed that something was amiss moments prior and warned the Orlotae sooner.

Warm tears fell from Lianna’s eyes, sliding down her cheeks like raindrops down a leaf. She flicked her eyes open again and slowly examined her surroundings.

The giant’s quarters were unoccupied, shrouded in faint shadow. His bed, once holding the pile of material in his bag, was cleared and neatly made as if it were not slept in. Usually the unfamiliar silence would have provoked suspicion of a potential ambush. But Lianna welcomed the quiet, inviting it to alleviate the mourning, the shame and burden of failing her people. She could no longer tolerate the thought of terrified Shuluans frantically shoving, pulling one another to reach evacuation trees. Their screams, desperate and unforgettable, echoed through her mind, painfully reminding her of that night.

The unidentified enemies also assaulted Lianna’s thoughts. The Shuluans were often vigilant in concealing their existence from outsiders who moved through the Kaddani Jungle. Perhaps the giants had spied on the tribe from afar, camouflaging themselves with the trees, crouching behind the tall blades of grass until nightfall. Regardless of their tactic, they compromised the sanctuary of the tribe. Lianna imagined the intruders’ attentive eyes watching, tracing their tiny steps that led to the Circle.

Lianna’s jaws tightened as she further meditated on the circumstances and the deities’ disregard, fury rousing her spirit. Since the beginning of existence itself, the Shuluan people had demonstrated absolute faith and devotion to the Gooktai. In exchange, both the Moon Goddess and Thro were to bless Their children with prosperity and Protk Divos—Divine Protection. The Shuluans had endured many hardships, but had always persevered under their guidance.

Yet, the Gooktai did nothing to intervene when Lianna and her people were ambushed during the Moon Goddess ceremony. It was as if They observed the chaos from the heavens, disregarding their desperate cries for protection. How could this have occurred? Lianna wondered. She swore under her breath as the possibility dawned on her.

Before the incursion, he affronted the Thro legend and the Spirit Council, claiming that the villagers were being deceived. By slandering the Gooktos Lundai and her One Love during the ceremony, Orktos then infuriated Them. Was he and his insolence the cause of the tribe’s unexpected misfortune?

Lianna angrily slammed her fist against the side of the box. “Damn you, Orktos,” she seethed though clenched teeth, her body quivering. “If my suspicion is confirmed, I will spill your blood when we meet again.”

She closed her eyes and released a deep relaxing breath before inhaling once again, repeating the technique for a few moments, concentrating on the sensations of air filling her lungs, of her breast pressing against the interior of her leather top until she gently pushed air out through her mouth.

Lianna opened her eyes once again when her self-control eventually returned, blinking and widening them to regain focus. Above all else, she was to maintain her composure. To unravel under the current circumstances would feasibly place her in imminent peril.

A fresh wave of determination streamed through her, supplanting the toxicity of mourning and indignation that almost possessed her spirit. She had to leave this room at once. Weeping and contemplating the worst served no purpose and such brooding would only lead to her demise. The sooner she initiated the search for her people and left this planet, the better.

 

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