Omeria and her older brother Jacobi shared a rather small shack in the village of Logoff. The two were the only living descendants of the long gone Abayolla tribe. Sixty years ago, the tribe occupied a field that separated Ash from Kobo. The tribe members were allowed to live in the field as long as they didn’t trouble the Ashian or Koboian villagers. At times Bushear, the now deceased leader of Kobo, would have first meal with the tribal members in order to gain knowledge from them related to survival tactics. He would teach whatever he learned to a tough young lady named Yessenia. Everyone was happy with the arrangement. Years later the field produced red, blue and black edible berries. Once the tribe had something of value other than survival skills, the problems began.
Omeria recounted the berries that were in the basket. She glared at Jacobi. “No more deals with Syquan. He only gave you nine berries.”
Jacobi shook his head. “No, he said that Nestor and his goldkeeper raised the fee on the berries again. We could only afford the nine. We will need more gold next time.”
“No someone needs to bring Nestor and his Grant to justice. Thievery and greed. Nestor gives the order and then Grant serves it to us with his pretty face and routine courtesies.”
“Alright, who will bring them to justice then? He didn’t force the tribe to give up the berry fields. They chose to believe Nestor’s lies and took the gold,” Jacobi emphasized.
“And now we continue to pay the fee. Whatever fee he chooses to set. The berry fields belong to us! Don’t you dare defend him.”
“So tell me what should we do? Get on the Octo Trail? Hope that we make it to Kobo safely avoiding the trolls, witches, komodos and vamps and then ask to have the berry fields back?”
“I doubt that would work.” Omeria rubbed her stomach. She would never admit how hungry she truly was.
“You would have better luck at becoming Nestor’s flame, committing to him and then having free access to the berry fields. No one’s going to give us the fields back. Or you can ask to become a Koboian. How long is your past?”
“You make a good point. Grant’s flame Glodean is dead now.”
“Yes, the girl dipped in gold is no more. What a grand spoiled twit she was,” Jacobi voiced no sympathy. “I heard that they poured hot, melted gold all over her skin. She screamed for many moments as it boiled. It’s hard to believe that they are humans. Obsessed with the gold.”
“They are freaks. So Grant is vulnerable now.” Omeria peeled the skin off of a berry with her nails.
Jacobi snatched the basket from her, held a berry up into the air and then smashed it. “I said become Nestor’s flame. Always kill the snake before the rabbit.”
“Are you thinking that Grant wouldn’t fall for me?” Omeria wondered.
“Look, bow and arrow lessons. If you are going to aim… Aim high. Nestor is more powerful than Mattau, Declan Mortis III, Callahan and Asher put together. You know why?”
“Nestor is also a freak. A cursed man.”
“The humans and the freaks trust Nestor and follow him, when he is the least worthy. He doesn’t kill, threaten or judge. He loves everyone, everyone loves him. His downfall will be his lying flapping tongue.”
“His fall will be loving me.”
“Indeed. We need to be let into Kobo’s gates.”
“Ignore it.” Loud knocks came from the front door. “I’m not up for guests. I hope you are not planning on leaving without cleaning this floor.”
Jacobi headed for the door. “What if it’s the knights of the Punishere again looking for Lottie? We could give them a bad tip. Tell them that their future Punishere is hiding in Kobo.” He placed his face close to the door. “I didn’t hear the black horses coming. Who is on the other side?”
A soft female voice responded. “It’s me.”
“Strange, I don’t know anyone called me.” Jacobi opened the door and quickly pulled Errola inside. “You are all sweaty, dear.”
“I ran over.” Errola caught her breath. “That freak Mattau is here with his gold armed goons.”
“Are you sure? I thought he was still mourning the loss of Glodean. No one here killed her. It was the clumsy witch and Declan Mortis III.”
“He’s too afraid to go after them so he’ll take his frustrations out on us. Coward!” Omeria ate another berry.
“The true coward is our leader Callahan. Who does nothing to make our lives better,” mentioned Jacobi. “Don’t worry about a thing. Tomorrow we will journey to Kobo to start new lives free of these fools. All we have to do is outsmart Nestor. You’ll be his new flame and I’ll hunt down the imaginary beasts.”
They laughed. Errola felt less fearful. “Can I come too? Don’t leave me here with Callahan.”
“Of course, run home and pack your things.” Omeria gave her a hug and walked her towards the front door. They were pleased by the idea of living together in Kobo.
Without notice, the front door violently flung open. Mattau stomped in accompanied by three big-headed, golden armed men and Logoff’s reluctant leader Callahan.
“What is this?” Jacobi spoke to Callahan who offered no answers.
Mattau casually walked up to the three. “My dearest Glodean is dead.”
“What does that have to do with this intrusion? Did you get lost on your way to the Crescent?” Jacobi asked.
“It’s simple. You have something that I want.”
“You are the richest being Mattau! We have nothing for you. Golden freak. Be on your way now,” Omeria snapped at him. “And leave us gold for the door.”
Mattau smiled. “Yes, she is beautiful I see, but a little tonguey for Ondello. Nothing like my niece. What about this little dear?” Mattau pointed his gold finger in Errola’s face as if she was an inanimate object. “I like this one.” The goons grabbed at Errola. Jacobi tried to fight them off but one punch to the face from a golden arm killed him within moments. His head met the concrete floor.
“Someone really should clean this floor. The palace floors are always impeccably clean. I make sure of it.”
Callahan grabbed a berry from the basket. He made no eye contact with anyone as if he wasn’t even there. Errola wondered if a spell had been placed on Callahan. He was lazy but never this aloof. She didn’t try to undo the grip of the men. “Callahan, do something. We are your people.”
Mattau explained to Omeria who was beside Jacobi, “The little one here is going to be the new girl dipped in gold. The next Glodean.”
“You are mad,” Omeria fumed.
“You may visit if you like. I am sorry about your brother Jacobi’s death. I know what it’s like to lose someone so unexpectedly,” Mattau continued.
“Get out!” Omeria yelled as loudly as she could.
“We have a golden palace. You will like it,” Mattau informed Errola.
Omeria could tell that her brother Jacobi was no longer breathing. Errola was taken away by the goons. The three of them would never make it to Kobo after all, but Omeria would.
Callahan placed a small bag of gold on the floor next to Omeria after Mattau left. Callahan sat down on the dirty floor next to Omeria. Omeria had the urge to push him but she didn’t. It wouldn’t bring her brother back from the dead. She was now the last descendant of the Abayolla tribe. She planned on staying alive, so that she could get her revenge. Callahan remained silent.
“Why are you still here Callahan? Callahan.” She moved closer to him and shook him repeatedly. “Callahan. Why are you still here?” His eyes were wandering around the small room.
Suddenly his eyes focused on her. Callahan removed her hands from his shoulders and gave her a wicked grin. His voice was unrecognizable. “Callahan? I’m not Callahan.”