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The Hidden Temple (chapter 3)
Malonina jumped up from where she had been crouching and ran down the stairs, slipping on the wet floor that her mother had been scrubbing only minutes ago. She ran to the front door and opened it, and ran right into Kalin, Feredella's friend. He reached out a hand to steady her.
“Malonina! Where are you going in such a hurry?” he asked, tugging playfully at her short, loose hair with his free hand.
Malonina ducked from his hand and stepped aside. Her face felt warm, and she hoped she wasn't blushing, but she knew she was. “Oh, Kalin. Sorry! I didn't know you were here. Um. Anyway. Come in!” She ducked her head and stepped back in the house. He followed her into the cool, airy house, a relief from the humid heat of the outdoors.
“Where's Munamar?” Kalin asked, looking around the spacious room.
“She’s . . . not here right now. I think she might be washing clothes by the river.”
Kalin looked disappointed. “Okay. Thanks, Nina.” He smiled at Malonina and went outside, closing the door behind him. Malonina went to the window and peeked out at him. She sighed. He was so cute! She knew that he liked Munamar and she was jealous. Munamar wasn't even that pretty. She was so plain-looking and didn't even care about the way she looked. She was eccentric and independent, always back-talking and running off to do things that she wasn't supposed to be doing.
Malonina slipped out the door and took off running to the river, going through the forest on a path she had discovered only a few days before. She got to the river and, not wanting to be seen spying on her sister, hid behind a huge boulder.
After a few minutes, Kalin arrived, just like she knew he would. Munamar looked up at him, and then smiled and put down the sulitah she was washing and stood up. Kalin hugged her, and then they both squatted by the river.
“Munamar, I have some really bad news.”
Munamar looked up. “What is it? What's wrong?” She stopped scrubbing the cloth and turned all her attention to him.
“There's an attack planned. The villagers of a town a couple of days away have planned it because they want a friend for a motherless girl, and they want someone around your age, maybe Nina's. They're also going to kidnap a bunch of other girls and women, all to be sold into all kinds of slavery. They might also kill some people.”
Munamar gasped and her hand involuntarily went to her mouth. “Kalin. It—it can't be! It just can't! Who told you this?”
“Mar, you know I can't tell you that. I assure you that it's from a very trustworthy source, though.”
Munamar shook her head in disbelief. “But there hasn't been an attack in almost a hundred years! I never thought that what I have always said to people would end up true!” she leaned on Kalin and sobbed.
Malonina, too, cried. She couldn't believe people would be this mean and selfish. After all, this was for a stupid, spoiled brat who couldn't live without a mother! She had very little time to cry and sort out her feelings, because at that very moment, she heard the sound of hundreds of marching feet, and, as her blood grew cold, she heard the sound she had been dreading for the past two hours: the war-trumpet.