The Amulet - Book one of the Regions Series
Kori’s sour mood returned to normal as the turns crawled by.
Kori couldn't help but worry about being on his own in this world again. This time being led about by someone he didn’t know.
Jhalla saw his concern and it began to make her nervous about putting the two of them together. She felt Jade needed a leash but something told her that Kori was only going to end up getting hurt.
The main reason she was becoming unsure of this pairing was because Kori didn’t act as a Hikarian male should. In all honesty, the boy didn’t react like most in the first place. Jhalla didn’t care for Hikarians, never had a reason to, but something about this one had her concerned for his well-being. She didn't like that.
That morning started like any other. Kori rose much earlier than the rest of them, to get in a couple of circuits around the farm before work started, he had told her. Jhalla hadn’t a clue what he meant in the beginning until she watched him do a slow paced run around the fields the first time. She didn’t understand why. Field work was more than enough exercise she thought, but he’s done it every turn since arriving.
It was simply that this time his jog; as he called it, was cut short.
Jade had finally arrived.
“What’s happening?” Thalus asked from behind his wife, both of them peered out the front window. They didn’t bother to hide themselves, knowing that Kori always knew when he was being watched.
Jhalla shrugged as her husband put his hands on her shoulders in an attempt to get a better look. She didn’t want to take her eyes off of the two Hiks, not wanting to miss anything as they stood in the middle of the road that led from the gate to the house.
“They’re just standing there staring at each other,” she whispered.
Kori had gotten up as usual to jog around the property. It had been peaceful and cool. The only time where he could feel like he was back in his own era. The chirping birds, the soft breezes, the calming rustle of the leaves of the trees that lined the main road and the crunch of gravel beneath his feet. It was as if he was back at home; if he closed his eyes he could picture the park he usually jogged through. He had already made two circuits around the neeri and tomal fields when he felt as if someone was watching him.
He noticed the girl standing off in the trees on his return to his starting point. She observed him silently. Her eyes taking in every inch of him. She leaned against a tree with her arms crossed and her eyes stuck on him. Kori came to a halt a couple of meters from where she stood.
She was pretty. Long jet black hair braided down to her waist. She had golden skin and gorgeous grass green eyes. A normal occurrence for Hikarians he was told. She had a boyish build yet was still feminine enough not to get her gender confused.
Kori stifled the bad attitude he’d had for the past few turns. No reason to start a new relationship on a bad note. He gave her a genuine smile only to be greeted with a suspicious sneer. His smile faded quickly.
“Are they talking?” Thalus asked his wife, he was getting a little impatient as neither Hiks moved. Jhalla started to answer him with a smart retort when they both watched Jade dash out from the trees at Kori who didn’t even flinch. Both of them ran for the door.
Kori smirked. The girl was arrogant.
He watched as she spun through the air to give him a back hand chop to the head, he supposed. He dodged with ease, ending up behind her when she landed. Quickly he ducked when she tried to attack him again. Kori simply backed away, wondering if he should ask why she was attacking him. Was there a point? Or should he wait for the older Douans to get here and stop her? Usually Terk and Jah would be out and about, but they had been sent on a delivery.
He kept at least an arm’s length from her attacks. It wasn’t long before he could hear running coming from the direction of the house. He knew Thalus and Jhalla had been watching. Kori waited till they came up behind the girl, thinking that by now she should have heard their approach as well. He dropped his guard when Thalus and Jhalla reached them.
Apparently Jade didn’t find that reason enough to stop. Her fist and elbow struck him across his face and spun him violently away. He hit the ground hard.
Jhalla froze, “Jade!” she snapped.
Thalus grabbed the girl by the back of her neck and snatched her away from the dazed Kori. Jhalla moved quickly to stand in front of Kori as he shook away the shock of being hit and started toward the girl, now angered. Jhalla stopped his advance by putting her hands to either shoulder. “Kori, stop.”
“Why?” Thalus asked simply.
Jade continued to sneer at the boy, “He insulted me with that slutty smile of his.”
Jhalla gave a startled squeak when she realized that Kori had escaped around her.
“Kori!” Thalus barked maneuvering himself between the two Hiks, “Back off!”
Kori snapped in what he thought was Japanese, but he watched as Jade’s eyes went from smug to irate. She yelled back at him in the same strange language that had sprung from his mouth.
Jhalla snaked one arm beneath Kori’s and over the opposite shoulder arresting his movements before gently maneuvering him away from her husband and the seething Jade. Whatever Kori had said was highly insulting. She was going to have to ask him about it later.
“Shut-Up!” Thal bellowed. Jhalla smirked as both Hikarians became silent immediately, glaring at each other.
“Jade,” Thal started calmly, “Apologize now.”
She eyed him for a moment before looking at Kori again, “No.”
Thal closed his eyes, his grip on Jade tightening noticeably, “You attacked my help for no reason.”
Kori observed as her eyes lost their cheeky glare in realization that Thalus was right, but the growing smirk did nothing for the validity of what was asked of her.
“Screw you!” Kori snarled pushing away from everyone, “I don’t want your false apology.”
Jhalla glared at the girl before she rolled her eyes. “Kori.”
“No! I don’t want an apology from some loon who doesn’t think that what she did was wrong! It means nothing!” Kori swiped at the side of his face feeling the dribbling of blood from the gash Jade had given him.
“I didn’t do anything wrong,” Jade said matter-of- fact and grunted a bit when Thalus’ grip tightened more. “But I didn’t, he insulted me.” They all watched as Kori’s eyes nearly popped out his head.
Jhalla had never seen an incensed Hik male. The tradition with Hikarian males was that their emotions were to always to be kept in check, at least in public. But Kori didn’t seem to care for tradition. The boy moved toward Thal and Jade causing Jhalla to actually get nervous at his next action. But Kori stood there.
“By doing what?” He forced through clenched teeth.
Jade gave a small laugh as she watched the male before her. He was beyond angry and not ashamed to show it, not typical of what she was used to. She almost didn’t know how to react. “Calm down precious.”
They all watched as the younger male's face changed colors vibrantly. Jhalla wasn’t sure whether to laugh or to bodily grab Kori and carry him off. At the moment she had a gentle hold of his shirt to restrain him, but with that last remark she wasn’t sure if it was enough.
Kori’s eyes narrowed sharply and his lips became a thin line after pulling them in over his teeth. He clenched and unclenched his fingers, “…going for a swim.” He mumbled before snatching away from Jhalla’s grasp. He stormed off, gesturing wildly while he headed for the river.
“Why did you attack him?” Thal gave Jade a little shove.
She had the decency to give him a sheepish look, “I said he insulted me.”
Jhalla eyed the girl in disbelief, “How?”
“He assumed I was in a good mood,” She informed them, like everyone should have known better. Jhalla rubbed the center of her forehead in disbelief.
“Jade,” She started and then stopped, “Never mind.” She gave her husband a look and then headed toward the river after Kori. Thal wanted to call after his wife; he didn’t want to be left behind with Jade.
“Why is there a Hikari male working here!” Jade snapped at him suddenly. “They’re lousy excuses---!”
“Are you really going to tell me who I can and cannot hire?”
Jade quieted quickly at Thal’s cool tone. She looked at him before taking a deep breath. “Pin tao di-ma…”
“What?” Thal towered over her not caring for the whole situation as it was. She cowed beneath him, putting her hands up pacifically her green eyes wide.
“We wanted you to help him.”
“Do what?” She sighed resignedly.
“Find his lover. She’s been taken by some slavers…” he looked toward the river wondering what was going on.
“So he’s outspoken and has low tastes in women,” She laughed. She paused as the Exoan raised an eyebrow at her, “What?”
“Why do you say that?”
She got nervous, this had to be a trick question, “’Cuz the nearest slave compound deals in loborns and mutates.”
“Really?” Thalus was surprised to hear that, that meant that Kori’s lover was an excellent find for them. “She’s Exoan.”
Jhalla watched while Kori stormed into the river without removing anything but his sandals and he kicked those off with such venom she was sure he wasn’t going to be able to find them later. She watched in silence as Kori waded further into the water.
And then proceeded to go nuts.
Kori sent towers of water into the air while he kicked or punched the water. Jhalla couldn’t help the grin, he looked so ridiculous. She cleared her throat, but he didn’t seem to hear her.
Kori stopped immediately. His shoulders dropped and he sighed deeply. Aloyce had been the only other person beside his dad that had seen him throw a fit. Without turning to face her, he watched Jhalla move closer to the river and sat down on a large protruding stone. They remained silent for a bit before Kori burst into laughter.
Jhalla couldn’t help but grin wider when Kori laughed whole heartedly, “What is so funny?”
“I just pictured the type of look on your face when you caught me throwing a TT.”
She tilted her head in confusion at another of his weird words. ‘TeeTee?”
“Ah.” The both of them were silent again. Jhalla already knew that Kori was going to try to back out of going anywhere with Jade and spoke up before he could get his words together. “She’s your only choice.”
His smile shrank. “Thal said she hated males.”
Kori rolled his eyes, “Do you know why?” He watched as she thought it over. A breeze swirled around him, chilling him and reminding him that he was still standing in the middle of the river. He didn’t need to catch a cold so he headed for the bank. Using the edge of his hands he quickly flicked away the excess water on his arms after shaking his hair out.
“Familial abuse,” Jhalla finally answered.
He looked back toward the river and then at his hands. They had tanned since arriving here, but they were still lighter than Jade’s dark gold tone, “Ah.”
The silence between them was growing and making her uncomfortable now. Just as Jhalla started to get up he looked at her, a question ready but reluctant. The boy swallowed and tried to start again.
“Wh-why didn’t they take me?” He didn't want to meet her look of surprise. “I mean, why just her? Th- the slavers, I mean. They didn’t give me a second glance before snatching her away from me.” His throat threatened to close up, “Why Aloyce?” The horrified look on Al's face flashed through his mind.
Jhalla couldn’t help but feel surprised at this question. Kori was not a normal Hikari. She mentally went over all the weird things he had said and done since Thal brought him here. It was as if Kori had just appeared in that field from … another time or place.
“The Fire and Wind Regions are at odds with each other.” She answered. “Avians are arrested on sight as spies, most put to death. Controller Sajah is Exoan so Controller Kimino Nahla allows our enslavement. We think there was some disagreement between the two, but there’s no telling. Both women are ancient and known for their stubbornness,” She watched Kori’s face twist in irritation.
“Because of them, this has happened.” He mumbled