Book 2: Starting Over; Chapter 13: The Romanized Eunkis

Life started decently enough for the Eunki household, given their status as Slaves.

Elettra laughed as she watered the seeds Cosimo had just planted. “Am I the only one getting a sense of déjà vu?”

Cosimo grinned. “There are some differences between now and when we first started life alone in the desert. For one thing, I’m not as grumpy. I hope.”

“Oh, no, you’re as grumpy as ever. I’m just more tolerant,” Elettra teased.

Cosimo had stopped trying to deny his feelings; he was head over heels in love with Elettra. He could tell that she wasn’t at the same depth of feeling for him, but he didn’t let that bother him. Over the next couple of weeks, he spent time slowly wooing her, and she eventually came around.

Cosimo lightly brushed her chin with his thumb and gave her a kiss, which she returned without hesitation.

“When we’re old enough, I’m going to ask you to marry me,” Cosimo said.

“I’m older than you,” Elettra reminded him, again teasing. “How do you know I’ll wait for you?”

Cosimo grinned. “Don’t make me go back to being grumpy.”

The two teens looked at the world through rose-colored glasses for a few days. They knew, of course, that one of them might at some point be chosen in the Slave Lottery, but they hoped to have a decent amount of time together before that happened. And the lottery was only in the backs of their minds, anyways.

Unfortunately, one disaster came along that no one had expected: Yaza Unki.

Cosimo’s little sister, who lived with Elettra Allah and Cosimo Eunki and their little brother Carp Unki, became an ill-tempered teenager.

By the time she was a teen, Yaza had realized her rotten luck in life. She was a Slave, and the lowest of the low because of her association with the two outcasts of the Neanderthal Age. She could have so many opportunities even a single class up, if only she hadn’t been dragged into such a mess. If only she had gone with Carlo instead of Cosimo.

As the days passed, Yaza’s temper grew. She threw tantrums on a regular basis, and she got into arguments with Elettra, even though the two of them were good friends.

And then, one fateful day, she attacked Elettra.

And Yaza won.

And Elettra died.

Cosimo heard Elettra cry out in pain, and he rushed to his beloved just in time to see the tail end of the fight and Elettra collapse in agony.

“Elettra!” he yelled, throwing himself onto his knees at her side.

She was badly wounded.

But she looked up at Cosimo and smiled. “I would have waited for you,” she whispered.

And then her eyes went blank, and Death came to collect her soul.

Cosimo stood up in a rage and stormed over to his sister.

“What do you think you were doing?” he yelled. “You killed Elettra, you idiot! What did she ever do to you? She was only ever friendly and wonderful and perfect! Don’t you know that only agony ever comes from fights?”

“Oh, you’re one to talk!” Yaza screamed back at him. “Just look at your face, Cosimo! Who do you think it was that taught me how to fight?”

“We’re Slaves because I made the stupidest mistake of my life fighting! Haven’t you learned anything?”

“Shut up! You don’t know what I’m going through! And it’s all your fault, too! I bet Carla is laughing at us right now! She’s a Plebeian because she’s a winner! You’re a Slave because you’re a loser! And I’m a Slave because you dragged me down with you!”

“So get out of this house right now and marry some Pleb! No one’s making you stay!”

Carp, who had been watching quietly until now, burst into tears. “Yaza… Cosimo… Pl-pl-please…” he sobbed.

Cosimo and Yaza called a truce for their youngest brother’s sake, and a few days passed uneventfully. Cosimo let Elettra’s grave remain on his lot, too heartbroken to send away what was left of the girl with whom he’d fallen in love.

For a while, Yaza seemed to have calmed down. She played with her brothers like a normal sister. Cosimo even began to wonder if he could forgive her.

But Yaza proved to be just as unstable a week later as she had been before. With hardly a warning tantrum, Yaza attacked Cosimo.

In self-defense, Cosimo found himself in another fight with a sister. This time, he emerged victorious.

Unfortunately, it was at the cost of Yaza’s life.

Cosimo did mourn her death, but not as badly as he’d mourned Elettra’s. Justice had been served.

Carp was devastated at Yaza’s death. He cried every time he saw the two tombstones sitting side-by-side. Cosimo even worried that Carp might fall prey to whatever mindset had turned Yaza into such a nightmare.

With a heavy heart, Cosimo realized that moving the resting places of his beloved and his sister was for the best. He spoke with Grand Abbot and got permission to bury the girls at the Slaves’ chapel. He figured that Elettra was doubtless in a better place, and he hoped that even Yaza might have been forgiven her wrongdoings.

Life at the Eunki household was anything but normal now, but Cosimo and Carp had little choice but to try to carry on.

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