Fatefall - 38

Fatefall - 38

A Chapter by A.L.



Chapter 38 - Nakoa

The lines between sides were clear, though the same could not be said for the lines between cruelty and practicality. 

Nakoa was not expecting a warm welcome upon her return to her village. The lack of letters from her parents, her sacreligious actions, and the fact that she’d run off with a boy she wasn’t married to---she expected a stern reprimanding, if not complete exile.

She knew she had a week to return to the city, and she knew her team would not miss her during her travels. Sage and Jett had mentioned a possible visit to Jett’s parents and something about another bakery tour. Poppy would be preoccupied with Adrian, who would be preoccupied with his brother’s death. 

Nakoa didn’t blame them, really. It wasn’t their fault that Ansel was gone.

At least she still had Moose, although she planned to leave him with her sisters…assuming they hadn’t been exiled.

Your family wouldn’t be exiled without a proper judgment from the Fates, Nakoa reminded herself. Proper judgment couldn’t be placed without the help of five priestesses, and Nakoa doubted that they’d found a replacement for her yet, considering all the rigorous fasting and devotion exercises. 

Even if her family wasn’t exiled, Nakoa wasn’t planning on returning to her village.

The Tournament had given her a life that she’d always craved. Had shown her how close she was to true freedom. The door to her cage was open and she needed only to fly.

So when she arrived in the village to find someone had strung up a banner reading Welcome Back in bold print, her shock felt warranted. Could people have actually missed her? Could they be proud of her?

It was noon by the time Nakoa reached the village and the laborers were just beginning their midday breaks when she stepped into the dirt streets.

Her dirty city clothes and the dagger at her hip---which she’d taken to wearing ever since her and Adrian’s encounter with Hunter---attracted attention almost immediately. Nakoa knew from experience how fast whispers could travel from one side of the village to another, so she figured she wouldn’t have to wait long before either her parents, sisters, or the Divine came to find her. 

Still, with the welcome banner, Nakoa was surprised to find no one else approached her. She strolled to her house, waiting for someone to ask her how she’d been or congratulate her on progress in the Tournament. Her disappointment only grew as she made the walk home alone. 

Moose danced around her legs, excited by the idea of returning home. That made one of them, at least. Nakoa was beginning to regret ever coming back when someone shouted her name.


She spun wildly, hoping it would be one of the other apprentices or her parents or her sisters. Instead, she found the Divine, looking even older than Nakoa remembered.

“Your Divinity,” Nakoa acknowledged, bowing her head in reverence. She noted that the Divine didn’t recognize Nakoa as an apprentice. By leaving the village, she’d officially forfeited her apprentice position. Nakoa’s hopes sank. She briefly wondered who had replaced her. 

“It’s been quite a long time since I’d heard news of you,” the Divine said. “We thought you might be dead.”

“How kind of you,” Nakoa retorted.

She’d been a fool to think the village might change in her absence, but the Divine still wore several layers of robes despite the humid air and she still wielded her cane as though it was a weapon. 

“You can hardly blame us. After you and Ansel disappeared, your families assumed the worst,” the Divine said. Was that genuine worry in her voice? 

“I sent letters,” Nakoa argued. “And none of you bothered to respond to me. If anyone should have been worried about the state of their family, it should have been me. So, if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to have some words with said family.”

The Divine laid a hand on Nakoa’s shoulder, though she had to stand on the tips of her toes to do so. “Alaine and Lulu are at the temple right now, and your parents are at the candle-shop. They have not been Exiled in wake of your absence---I made sure of that.”

Nakoa wasn’t sure if she was supposed to thank the Divine or not, but her frustration with the whole village led her to ignore the Divine’s proclamation. 

“Alaine and Lulu are both at the temple?” she asked instead.

The Divine nodded, a hint of eagerness evident in her expression. “We’ve doubled lessons on Fatefall. I doubt you’ve heard the news, but Basar has shown us a vision of the future. The Fates will be reborn in the next moon cycle!”

Nakoa blinked. She wanted to laugh. Her village was still devoted to the idea of rebirth and Fates and all that nonsense.

She schooled her expression into one of polite interest. “That’s wonderful.”

The Divine didn’t seem to note her apathy, babbling on. “Although I won’t be able to reinstate you as an apprentice, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the festivities. We need happiness, that’s for sure. Jonah’s soul has passed into the next world and I’m afraid that all of us were quite devastated by the loss--”

“Ansel’s father died?” Nakoa interrupted, recognizing the name. 

The Divine nodded. “I’m surprised Ansel didn’t mention it to you. I was under the impression that you and him were close.”

Bile rose in Nakoa’s throat as she bit back an indignant response. “I thought so too.”

“Whatever could you mean?”

Nakoa laughed, but there was no mirth. “What I mean is that Ansel is gone. As good as dead. Kidnapped, enslaved, murdered---I have no idea. He vanished without a trace, so make of that what you will.”


“Don’t even try to console me. I don’t need to hear your reassurances that he’ll be reborn or that we need to trust in the Fates. When have the Fates ever cared about us?” Nakoa practically spat the words at the Divine, but if the woman was shocked, she didn’t show it. 

Instead, she spoke with infuriating calmness. “I wasn’t going to suggest that rebirth was a possibility,” the Divine said. “And while I understand you believe yourself to have been abandoned by the Fates, I must disagree. They are out there, Nakoa. They are protecting us---protecting you. Your Grace may be random, but the Fates’ kindness is not. It may be that when they are reborn, they will bring Ansel with them--”

“I don’t want to hear your ridiculous lies!” Nakoa shouted, not caring about the crowd she was gathering. “That’s all this village was built on---lies. This whole story about the Fates being saints that time will spit out at us again and again is completely unbelievable. I let myself be guided by the stupid hope that the Fates would save me for my entire life, and you see where that got me. No, the Fates aren’t saints, Your Divinity. The Fates are monsters, and I’m glad they’re dead.”

And with that she stormed off towards her parents’ shop, hoping she would be better recieved by them. 

She ignored the blatant stares and whispers as she crossed the village to the candle shop. Let them spread rumors about the nearly-exiled priestess fighting with the Divine. Nakoa didn’t care what they said about her.

Her parents were helping a customer when Nakoa stepped into the shop. She stood awkwardly in the doorway, Moose at her side, savoring the soft floral scent that wafted through the air. Her parents' voices drifted over the shelves of candles, somehow familiar and foreign at the same time. A bell jingled as the door fell shut and her mother’s voice rang out from the back of the store. “I’ll be with you in a moment!”

Nakoa slowly made her way past shelves of candles, Moose a comforting presence beside her. Memories floated to the front of her mind. She saw herself running down the aisles on wobbly legs, her impaired vision making her balance slightly off. Moose had actually been gifted to her after she broke an entire shelf’s worth of candles. 

She rounded the final shelf and stepped into her parents’ view. “Mama? Papa?”

Nakoa watched as her mother’s expression morphed from confusion to shock, then to relief and excitement before her mother wrapped her in a hug. Her father stood beside her, transfixed as though Nakoa was a total stranger between. 

She barely registered the customer thanking her parents before slipping out of the shop. All she could focus on were her mother’s arms around her.

“My little gazelle,” Mama whispered in her ear. “I’ve missed you so much.”
Nakoa finally pulled free of her mother’s grip as her parents took a step back to survey her. 

Her parents looked older than the last time she’d seen them, even though it had only been a few months. Her mother was shorter than Nakoa by nearly a head, but she carried herself with a confidence that only an experienced mother could carry. Her obsidian hair was streaked with gray and wrinkles lined the dark skin around her eyes. Meanwhile her father---who was just tall enough to meet Nakoa eye to eye---appeared to have lost weight, almost like he hadn’t been eating well. His green eyes were filled with worry and the way he twisted the wedding band on his wrist suggested that he was anxious. 

“You look so grown up,” her mother remarked, stepping forward to tuck a strand of Nakoa’s hair behind her ear.

“Thank you, Mama,” Nakoa said, pride radiating through her. She suddenly became self-conscious of her haggard appearance. A blush climbed up her cheeks. “I’m sure Alaine and Lulu probably look a lot older too.”

“They’ll be excited to see you,” her mother said. “I assume you’re staying for dinner?”

Nakoa hesitated. She knew she needed to return to the city in time for the Tournament, and she knew the longer she stayed, the harder it would be to leave. But…the village wasn’t that far from the city. If she left now, she’d make it back by nightfall. Dinner couldn’t hurt, and it would give her a chance to see her sisters…and maybe say goodbye. 

“Fine,” she conceded. “But you should probably go find Alaine and Lulu and bring them home early. I don’t really feel like explaining everything that’s happened to me twice.”

“You reversed time?!” Alaine burst, practically bouncing up and down with excitement.

Nakoa sighed. “It was only a second, and most people with the Grace of Time can probably do the same thing.”

Her parents shared a look that claimed otherwise, but Nakoa ignored them. The last thing she needed was for Alaine and Lulu to spread rumors at the temple that Nakoa possessed an extraordinarily strong Grace. 

The whole family had gathered around the dinner table, though none of them had touched their meal. Moose rested beneath the table, his head on his feet as he waited for one of the girls to drop some of their food. To be fair, it was midafternoon so Nakoa doubted any of her family had much of an appetite, but her appearance certainly interrupted everything too. 

She started her story by apologizing for running off in the middle of the night. Her mother forgave her almost immediately, but her father was a little more hesitant. 

At first, when she’d narrated the qualifying fights and the first two Trials, she’d tried to avoid any of the more…dangerous feats. However, Alaine and Lulu were curious and asked far too many questions, many of which couldn’t be answered without explaining the whole scenario. 

If her parents were worried about her risking her life, they hid it well. It struck Nakoa just how many times she’d nearly died since arriving in the city (between the qualifying round, the second Trial, her and Adrian’s raid on the Hunter’s apartment, and various other adventures, there’d been quite a few), and yet she still wanted to live there permanently. Her lust for action simply couldn’t be satisfied in the dull, routine life of the village. 

Of course, conversation soon turned to who had been on Nakoa’s team. Alaine and Lulu were intrigued by Adrian’s offer of a position on the Golden Guard, but Nakoa had quickly dismissed their theories by explaining his feelings for Poppy. Her mother felt bad for all of Nakoa’s teammates and their less than pleasant backgrounds. Her father, meanwhile, had warmed to the idea of Nakoa’s departure when he’d heard how Nakoa had wielded her Grace. His pride was contagious and Nakoa was glad she’d pleased him. 

The pleasant mood lasted until Ansel was mentioned.
“Where is Jonah’s boy, anyway?” asked her father. “I haven’t heard much from the family lately. Ever since Jonah passed, they’ve been quite distant.”

Nakoa swallowed. She knew she couldn’t keep Ansel’s kidnapping a secret forever, especially considering the Divine already knew and would spread the information around the town. No doubt, she’d try to claim it was by the will of the Fates. 

She bit her lip and then blurted out, “Ansel was kidnapped, and his family doesn’t know.”

“Kidnapped?” her mother asked, mouth falling open with shock. “Nakoa, are you sure? His family will be devastated if that’s true. Not to mention you--”

Alaine and Lulu shared a conspiratorial look.

“I had a vision,” Nakoa explained, her voice wavering. “You see, he’s not the first person to disappear. People have been vanishing all over the city and when I had a vision of him being kidnapped, I knew there was a strong chance of it happening to him too. I tried to warn him but…I don’t know what happened or when exactly he went missing. The Golden Guard is investigating, but they don’t have any leads and with Adrian nearly dying, I’m sure their priorities lie elsewhere.”

“Nakoa,” her father murmured, cupping her hands in his. “I’m so sorry. I know how much you cared about him.”

Tears welled in the corners of her eyes. “I really want to hope he’s alive,” she whispered. “But I don’t want to keep pretending. I told the Divine---I assume she’ll tell his family for me. The last thing I want to do is burden them with more bad news. They don’t deserve that, but hopefully they’ll be okay.”

“But what about you?” her mother asked. “Are you going to be okay?”

Nakoa opened her mouth, prepared to say yes but the words wouldn’t come out. Suddenly, she was crying and all of her pent up emotions came pouring out of her. Her parents tried to console her, but their empty reassurances and kind words changed nothing.

She was in over her head with the Tournaments and the kidnappings and the conspiracies. A dozen loose ends dangled in her mind, but she couldn’t figure out how to connect them. How did the assassins, the disappearances, the stolen Graces, Asher’s murder, and the Divine’s odd insistence that everything was about to change relate to each other? She voiced some of her thoughts out loud, but her parents only watched her in confusion.

“Listen to me, Nakoa,” her father said at last, squeezing her hands. “This mystery does not solely belong to you---it involves the entire city. Don’t be overwhelmed by something that you are only a tiny piece of. The answers will come eventually.”

She nodded, not entirely convinced but aware that crying about it would fix nothing.

“I have to go back,” she said. Her parents didn’t argue, and surprisingly, neither did Alaine or Lulu. “My team---my friends---need me. We’re going to finish this Tournament whether we win or lose. And…” she trailed off, realizing that this was her moment to share her dreams of remaining in the city. If her parents didn’t approve, then they didn’t approve. She summoned the last of her courage and plowed forward. “I don’t plan on returning to the village. I want to take up Adrian’s offer. I want to study the art of the blade and I want to save lives. I can’t spend the rest of my life stifled here. Come with me if you want, or remain here. I promise I’ll send letters, and maybe one day I’ll visit again--”

“Nakoa,” her mother interjected, cutting her off. 

Nakoa fell silent, glancing at her mother only to find her mother smiling at her. 

“We always knew this village wouldn’t be enough to contain you,” her mother said. “When you first ran off for this Tournament, I didn't think I'd ever see you again. Imagine my surprise when you came home today.” She sighed. “I can’t promise that all of us will follow your footsteps, Nakoa. But if you truly do wish to live in the city, none of us will stop you. We’ll visit and we’ll send letters, I promise.”

“Really? You’ll let me go?” 

“We can’t stop you, can we?” her father countered with a sad grin. “All we’ve ever wanted is for all of our daughters to follow their dreams. Just promise you’ll write to us too, okay?”

Nakoa nodded, barely able to contain her excitement. “Thank you,” she said, her voice coming out as more of a whisper. “Thank you so much. For everything.

Her mother nodded. “And if you ever need anything else, we’ll be here for you. Don’t ever forget that.”

She nodded again, so overwhelmed with emotion that she was unable to speak.

For the first time since Ansel’s kidnapping, her fractured heart began to piece itself back together.

© 2022 A.L.

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Added on December 18, 2022
Last Updated on December 18, 2022
Tags: adventure, Grace, Fates, Fate, teen, ya, fantasy, fiction, magic, tournament, game, competition, enemies to lovers, young adult, assassin, thief, royalty, prince, priestess, death, survival, noble



I've been writing for a little over three years now - just short stories and occasionally a book (by word count alone). My main works are sci-fi and fantasy, aimed at a teen audience. I'm still in hig.. more..

Fatefall - 1 Fatefall - 1

A Chapter by A.L.