|Rules and Guidelines|
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|Khelek, 74 - Afternoon, hr 8|
Junta and I had chosen to build our lives together. We started by building a house near one of the underground rivers. We spoke often about the future of our family, and we spoke about having children of our own.
We had waited for some time now, and decided it was time. This should have been a happy story.
I cannot help but look back on that decision and wonder. Why did we think it was time? Why did we choose to go through with it? If we hadn't...could things have turned out differently?
I was blinded by love, and did not see that the looming cloud of darkness had begun to creep its way into our lives once again.
|Kuile, 74 - Midday, hr 6|
Snow slowly drifted down, small steams erupting from each flake as it landed on the dieing brushfire that Cathal set next to. He was seated on a rock, the snow-tipped mountains all around him. Cathal's chapped lips tore themselves back in a pained smile as he carefully carved out the last hole in the rude instrument he was making. Sighing softly, the boy set his bone knife aside and placed the end of the wooden flute to his lips, gently blowing into it. He winced as the shrill shriek that erupted from his instrument echoed through the canyon, and let out a sigh before glancing up at the girl who stood nearby, his sister. "Sorry about that, I'll get better...I swear..."
Cathal stood with his back to a granite house. His grandmother stood before him, listening. Nervously, the teen placed the flute to his lips and let out a shrill whistle. A pain sigh escaped him, and a moment later he gave it another try. He had practiced on the road back to the house, he shouldn't be messing up like he did. Finally, after a painful moment of getting used to playing the instrument once more, he began to a slow, quiet tune that would be good if it were not for his dozen or so screw ups, characterized by harsh shrieks and pitches in the tone. "S-sorry...I-I thought I was better..." he stated, forcing a smile and gazing down at the wooden instrument which he cradled in his hands. Suddenly he held the instrument up, forcing a smile "H-Here, why don't you take it? I bet'd it take your mind off of all the bad things that are going on...trying to learn to play one of these things, I mean..."
|Kuile, 74 - Afternoon, hr 8|
The twins were called Vanir and Jotnar. A little girl and a little boy respectively. I remember asking Junta...do they look alright? Physically, there was nothing wrong with the little ones, and for a little while I was so very happy.
Things began to happen, strange things. Jotnar crawled away quickly, grabbing the large clay jar with our food and the box with our tools in them and fled into the mines. When he moved from the bed the movement caused me to wake, but I looked around to see him fleeing quickly. Worried for my child's sake, I hurried after him.
He had made his way into the main chamber, and I breathed a sigh of relief. It was hard to look at everyone as they smiled and congratulated me...knowing something was wrong. But I tried to keep my feelings to myself as my child promptly sat in the cavern, and refused to move. I tried speaking with him but it was as if he could not hear me. He sat as still as stone, staring off at nothing, clutching our goods with a greedy grip. I was worried, and returned to speak to Junta.
He remembered once, a long time ago, when a young one was posessed by a demon. Mou-mou took the demon's soul from the child to protect us all. Now, I was afraid, my own child was a demon. I started to understand, though I did not want to accept it just yet.
Sadly things were not going well with Vanir either. I came back and was happy to see her awake. Junta and I held her, and she giggled and acted like a regular child. She was playing with a trinket in her hands...just like the gold I had buried with Mou-mou... Junta and I were worried at first...but it couldn't be... it had been buried in mou-mou's sarcophagus, sealed in stone and tucked away. A mere child couldn't...
But when the others came to tell us that mou-mou's tomb had been disturbed I could not keep these things separate. I began to make the connections, and I began to understand what had to be done.
Junta, I will always owe him something for being stronger than I could have been that day. While I wept and cursed the Great Spirit, Junta carried out the deed.
The darkness was back, and I wallowed in its grip for some time afterwards.
|Rosa, 74 - Sunrise, hr 4|
One of the older ones, whose name I never learned, starved to death. Margalit returned shortly afterward, and discovered Mother gone (the old lady had taken her body) and the older one dead. Irhel was attempting to eat his body. Irhel scares me, sometimes.
Margalit knew immediately what had happened; I suppose she knows the old lady as well. She left quickly, but it wasn't in the direction that the old lady went.
She called the old lady "Lilith".
|Rosa, 74 - Sunrise, hr 4|
Something was wrong. Margalit crawled onto the beach and could tell it that moment. She found Irhel, one of Lorel's son chewing on the corpse of her brother Anaf. Swatting him off she demanded to know where Lorel was. Irhel kept on saying 'Met' as he looked to Anaf's corpse whenever Margalit mentioned Lorel. Margalit started to panic, what could have happened to kill both Anaf and Lorel? She only had one conclusion..the Witch. With that she swiftly left, the memories of the past haunting her mind as she crawled away in the tide, not caring for what she left behind her.
|Lote, 74 - Sunrise, hr 5|
Mother is back!
She says she was merely pretending to be killed; she escaped Lilith's grasp as soon as she was able. Etzem is overjoyed; Krai is, again, barely responsive.
Margalit just missed Mother, however. I hope she is okay.
|Naur, 74 - Midnight, hr 1|
His brother Silas was fat, lazy, and did things he thought were silly, like scream for more food when there wasn't any spare. He hated him, in fact. But he became aware that the older boy was lonely. After stuffing one of the adobe bricks with sticks and leaves, which his mother quickly corrected, he brought his brother to help, taking him by the hand.
He sang a song to his mother while Silas worked; the noonday sun began to bake at their backs, and he noticed that his brother's wings were withered; the veins in them had all but dried out like the last dead leaves of summer. They padded the bricks of stone with mud, and helped their parents stack them up high. Soon the wall passed over their heads, so they sat and watched each other wipe mud on their own faces.
By the time it was done, he was exhausted. The house was red, red like the ground on certain days, red like his father's arm as he carried a shank of meat from the forest, red like the inside of a mouth. Red was soft, red was warm in the winter, red was cool shade. The broadleaves of the roof laid down flat. He lifted his hands to gaze at the dust that painted his hands while Silas grew older, broader, and now with a knowledge of work.
Mother broke half a twig and began writing an inscription on the lower wall. One day, he imagined, he would be able to read it.
|Vasa, 74 - Before dawn, hr 3|
Krai tried to fight one of the large, scary creatures today. He managed to kill it, but his wounds were too great. He passed away shortly afterward.
I never talked to him much, but I miss him. Not as much as I missed Mother, though.
|Vasa, 74 - Afternoon, hr 8|
I have stopped in the middle of a fierce snowstorm. I am almost out of the flat cakes of wheat I took from Mother Lilith and Father Krowe. I am so glad I brought with me some dry brush to make a fire with. Finding shelter from the wind beneath a high, curved bank of snow, I desperately try to light this fire. After some time, I am successful. I killed several fat, waddling birds earlier and cook their meat. It smells delicious. I pack it with snow into my box. Seeing a strange, barking animal, I kill it and take its skin, making it into clothing that seems to be much warmer and suited for this climate. I carry on, perhaps to my death.
|Vasa, 74 - Evening, hr 10|
Elliot? Elliot? Elliot. The copper blade drinks in the name, devours it, sings it back to the evening air. Elliot.
The teary-eyed one leaves and her man follows. Elliot, tiniest. Elliot, newest.
Five little forms, nestled amongst old grass bedding, tucked lovingly beneath a leaf. Little forms, some having opened eyes, some never having seen even the least of all field mice. They breathe like little pipe organs--together, but not; a melody of Nod to court the night. And Elliot, always Elliot. New, delicate, unwrinkled like the first unfurled leaf of a new spring.
Elliot. Elliot. A roasted meat, forgotten in the kiln, spits hissfire into the chill. Angry, coals dance their demon-light with lava knuckles, magma bones slowly dying as the ghosts of their rage reflect orange off the new copper blade. Elliot.
One-two! That easy. One less pipe organ to play the mad lullaby throughout the darktime. The blade counts four, four. Four more pipes to silence.
Toby? Toby? Toby. The copper blade drinks in the name, devours it, sings it back to the evening air. Toby.
|Losse, 75 - Before dawn, hr 3|
Margalit crawled back up the steep inclines of Farcliffs, her yellow eyes distant. She had made a U around the island and returned.
Exhausted from the excursion underwater, she curled up and fell right asleep.
Light shapes shifted before her eyes. Margalit lifted herself up as she looked around. Indistinct figures moved around her. Some at work, some at play, all of her kind. She saw a muscular man pounding a piece of hard rock into a shirt. She saw an older woman sliding meat into a firing oven. Their faces were not visible, but Margarlit felt she knew them. She looked towards the sky and saw a Light setting to the west, past the cliffs as the beautiful moon and darkness arose from the horizon.
Margarlit awoke slowly, the moon almost to its full height in the sky. She lifted herself up and looked around at the mountains and cliffs around her. She knew what she must do now.
|Kuile, 75 - Before dawn, hr 2|
The thirteen-year-old girl walks into the tent after her mother, shifting a bit while she tries to think of how she wants to approach the subject. After a moment, she just wraps her arms around her mother, burying her face against her. "I've missed you so much, Mama."
Her mother returns the hug, consoling her troubled daughter before lowering her heavy body to the hides on the ground. "Oomph!" She laughs. "This doesn't get any easier... so my Rose, what is this about?"
"Just.. need someone to talk to. There's nobody I can really talk to. I mean... there is, but not about some things." She finds a seat by her mother, drawing her knees up to her.
"Well, I'm glad you feel like you can talk to me." Her mother smiles encouragingly.
The girl nods as she falls quiet for a moment. "I remember before I left.. Zee wanted to talk to me. And she talked to me about liking people differently.. some more than others. I didn't really understand. And I do more now, kind of.. But it seems strange to me to like some people more than others. I.. guess that's just how things happen." She glances at her listening mother. "Well, Zee told me she liked me best.. and differently. And wanted me to think about it while I traveled. And that she wanted me to come back here to live with her... when she visited Nolja, she kind of hinted at it again too. And that's why I can't talk to her." She finishes lamely, before moving onward. "And Anrod... just after those ladies left.. or just before.. he told me he liked me too. I guess that's why he made me this bracelet." She fingers the delicate gold bracelet. "And Ter.." She flushes slightly. "Has been acting different some. Can't really explain it.." She shrugs a little. "And I can't really talk to him about this, though he said I could talk to him if I needed to talk about anything. I thought about talking to Nia, 'cause I know she likes Niran a lot, but when I tried, we got interrupted anyway, before I could say much other than reassure her about Niran not ignoring her." She takes a deep breath. "Zee and I though, when we talked, concluded that you must like Papa and Liet best... How did you know you liked Papa best?" She bites her lip, looking at her mother expectantly.
Her mother nods, taking it all in, then takes a deep breath. "Well... I knew I loved your Pappa from when we were very little... Although he was a bit mean to me then." She laughs at the memory. "But I always felt something here.." She places her hand over her heart. "When I looked at him.. even when he made me angry." She smiles again. "But we didn't become mates really until I was about 20 years old or so..." She shrugs. "I wasn't that interested in that sort of thing.. I wanted to travel and have adventures and he always just wanted to stay in Nolja.. so I traveled with my sister. I think I told you about that."
The girl listens quietly, nodding. "I don't really know about mates.. I guess I know you and Papa are, and you and Liet are. And Dahl and Fenrod are. And you have babies." She shrugs dismissively as she mentions babies. "I don't really care anything about ever having babies or deciding where to live yet. I just.. am confused about how I feel. I told Zee and Anrod I don't really know how I feel yet- because I didn't. But I think now.. I kinda know. I think... But.." The girl's voice trails.
Her mother looks at her daughter sympathetically. "Sometimes we have feelings in our heart for more than one person.. for different reasons, sort of like myself, your Pappa and Elieth. It doesn't always make things simple and other people don't always understand. I have always tried to be honest in how I feel and tell them both the truth." She sighs. "But that doesn't always make it better.. Do you feel something here.." She points at her daughter's heart. "For anyone?"
"Maybe.." The girl nods as she thinks about what her mother said. "I mean.. I'm pretty sure." She sighs as well. "I care about Zee, but I don't think I do the way she does. And.. Anrod.. I care a lot about him, too. But.." She glances at her mother, hesitant to actually say the words. "I think I care about Ter most. At least.. in any different way, like Zee was talking about. And Anrod was talking about. I think.." She bites her lip.
"I know you probably don't want to hear this, but," She takes her daughter's hands. "You are very young yet.. all of you, and.. maybe it is too soon to worry about these things as much as you all do... Maybe you should go travel.. explore.. I give you permission. There is no reason to wait for Acacia or Myran. I was seven when I left for my travels!"
The girl sighs. "I.. don't really want to worry about it. And I told them both.. But if I don't really understand how I feel at all now.. then it won't do me much good later either. Not that things won't keep changing and being confusing, but.." She shrugs. "I'm not really waiting on them to travel anymore. Seems waiting just takes forever. I just.. haven't decided which way I wanna go yet or if I want to travel much or not yet."
After a turn of conversation, her mother looks at her daughter again before she gets ready to leave, "I think things will come clear over time and your feelings will come together to make more sense as you get older and have more experiences in your life... but try to just enjoy your life... not to worry so much." She kisses her daughter's head.
The girl didn't really feel much less confused by everything. But for some reason she did feel better.
|Kuile, 75 - Sunrise, hr 4|
That Funny Thing Called Love
I fell asleep outside by a rock after all of the arguing in the hut between Father, Mother, Ado, and Cita. Cita had been the boldest in the arguing and I smiled to myself as I remembered how she defended me after Father yelled at me because nobody was helping. I knew, though, that Father was distressed about other things so I wasn’t too badly hurt by his stern talk but the fact that Cita had defended me filled me with feelings that I didn’t understand but I could not express these feelings with her as it seemed she was always with Ado these days. Whenever I think of her I get these weird feelings inside of me and it is killing me that I cannot express them to her. I also don’t know how she feels for me.
“I should let these feelings die away,” I keep telling myself, “and think of other things.” Father wants a table for the new hut so I should worry about collecting wood for that. He wants it like the one we left behind to the Night Watchers in Moonglade.
Cita also accused Father and Mother of treachery against the short people living in bones during the argument and she left with Ado soon after. I understood Father’s point. They weren’t our people and we didn’t know enough about them to trust them so easily although they trusted us enough to give us a tool to break the bones of the earth so that we could get to the hard, shiny bones that Father seems to want so badly. They cannot be too bad of a people to give us their secrets.
The scarier point about the short people, or the Stoneshapers as they called themselves according to Ado, was the fact that none of their dead have ever been returned to Moonglade Lake and as Mother points out; those that are not returned are doomed to walk the land as Night Watchers. Mother now believes it was them that were the reason for why Moonglade Forest had been infested with Night Watchers since their spirits never returned to the lake. I think this could be true and maybe when we do finally meet with these Stoneshapers we could convince them to return their dead and then maybe the Night Watchers will go away and then my people can return to the forest.
As Father and Mother discussed things I decided I would sleep outside where hopefully I could get some peace. When I left the hut I saw Cita and Ado together in the darkness and they talked away through the night. I couldn’t hear what they were saying but I knew something was up between them. I never understood what Cita saw in Ado. He was abusive to her at times. He treated her like he owned her. He was also abusive to his brothers except maybe Amabi since he was so large but I stopped bothering to listen to him a long while ago as well as did the others. But don’t get me wrong but Ado is a good brother but there were times where he just exploded in rage for reasons I don’t understand.
I opened my eyes to peek out at the world. I could see the painful ball of fire rising above the tree canopy of Moonglade Forest. It looked like it was going to be another hot day up here in the bones. I missed the forest with its shade very much and I had been trying to get Father’s attention to ask about going back. It seemed every time I had a moment to speak to him something came up.
This time Mother had just arrived from Moonglade Shrine for her first visit to Skyreach; our new home. This distracted my Father much for reasons I don’t understand and then two new babies were born. They are twins and we’re already confused as to which is who. I think I will find a way to mark them one day so we will know.
I stood up and stretched after having slept on the hard ground. My body ached and it didn’t help me that a beaver had bruised me up and bit me a few times during a hunt a few days ago. That furry, little creature was tougher than I thought and I’ll be sure to stay away from them in the future.
I looked about the camp and then I saw them just a few yards away sitting and cuddling. I felt my heart sink as I wished I was Ado then. Cita was a beautiful young woman now and she was blossoming more every day. Her hair was perfectly shiny white and silky and her skin was smooth and seemed to shine and I just wanted to reach out and touch her. There was something about how her ears were pointed sharply and the way her dark eyes looked at you when you had her attention. Her body had also begun to shape differently from when she was younger. I found it difficult now not stare at the curves of her body at times.
I don’t understand why I feel this way. I didn’t feel this way for her a year ago but now it is like there is something different about her and not only that but something was changing in me as well but with Ado with her I would probably never find out.
I turned from them to notice Asher inspecting the side of the mountain as Amabi worked nearby on a new building that was going to be for Cita and Freya’s living area.
I listened as Asher broke the silence in camp for a moment with a loud laugh followed by much louder shouting, “You can’t break the mountain! That’s silly!” I watched as he returned laughing to help Amabi work on the building.
I shook my head, smiled, and thought to myself, “that boy is going to get himself in trouble someday with that loud mouth of his.” I’ll have to keep an eye on him with Father and Mother and everyone else so distracted.
I started up the goat trail to the forest above trying to ignore the painful bruise on the side of my torso. Every now and then I noticed shadows skirting around in the underbrush and I could hear their incoherent chattering. The green short people, much like the Stoneshapers but uglier, were about and their numbers were growing daily. I checked to make sure my black bone sword was still tethered to my hip and held its wooden handle tightly. They had attacked me once before and I swore that I would rid them of our bone home and that they wouldn’t take this home like the Night Watchers did in Moonglade Forest. But today they seemed to keep their distance and I began to fill my arms with wood that was strewn across the forested floor.
From this high up I could see a great deal of the vastness of Moonglade Forest to the east and north. I could even see Rufus returning from the north. I gazed down to him and watched him struggle up a path probably made by deer or ibexes that lived in the area.
I looked sadly at Moonglade Forest knowing of the horrible beasts that infested it. I promised that someday I would find a way to get rid of the Night Watchers and free Moonglade for my people. We were not meant to live on bones. The forest would always be our true home.
I looked at my black bladed bone sword and I knew even this powerful weapon would do nothing to these beasts. I often had nightmares of their red eyes watching me in the night as my family and I slept. I had lost one brother and almost another to them. Poor, little Samos...he never had a chance against them.
And then I saw what would break my heart as I trudged back down the goat path. Cita had moved in closer to Ado and then their lips touched and then Cita had thrown her arms around his neck. I wasn’t sure why these actions hurt me as well as I’m not sure what it was that I was feeling inside of me but it felt terrible. I wanted to throw the wood down and run away but I kept my composure and I tried not to show any emotion and I think I succeeded in that.
Then I was distracted by Amabi as he silently but noticeably stopped working on the building and marched over to a pile of cleaned animal hides. He grabbed a few pieces of the hide and marched into the hut.
I looked back to find that they too had been distracted by Amabi but then I noticed Cita looking up at me and I quickly looked away. I started to descend down the trail again trying to stop my temptation to look again. I had hoped that she didn’t think I saw and then I thought I would act as if nothing happened but I will keep my distance from them. It’d be better this way and maybe these feeling I have for Cita will go away finally. In the least, maybe it will hurt less.
As I got back down to the camp, I carefully stacked the wood onto the pile that had already been collected in the past. I ignored Cita and Ado as best as I could. I even ignored it all when Cita began to cry hysterically even though I wanted to go to her so badly and comfort her. It even hurt me that she was crying in the first place but I didn’t understand why. “I need to get out here,” I kept telling myself in my head. “Or I’ll go mad.”
I finished stacking the wood and headed back up the trail to the forest. If I had looked back then I would have noticed Cita watching me sadly trudge up the trail but I never did look back. A part of me is guilty about that as it was then that she ran away. If I knew then why she ran then I perhaps I wouldn’t have been so angry at her. I was angry that she would leave her family behind and abandon us but if I had known the true reasons then most likely I would have been angry at myself than anyone else.
|Rosa, 75 - Evening, hr 11|
Brr...it's cold out here. It's so green...and brown. One minute I'm nice and warm, the next I'm out here being spanked until I'm forced to cry!
I don't like it here! W-what are you doing! W-who are you? All these little ones. Who is everyone? Where am I?!
|Rosa, 75 - Evening, hr 11|
Another one? Just like me, which they have but next to all the others here?
|Lote, 75 - Before dawn, hr 2|
The teenage girl looks out across the ocean as she starts writing unsteadily. She wasn't very good at it yet, but she figured this would be the best way to practice.
He gave me a gift. Well, Anrod gave me one first. A pretty gold bracelet. I don't know why, but he seemed weird about it. He's been seeming different about some things a lot. But then he gave me a gift. A clay tablet with lovely words written on it... to make me feel at home wherever I am. He was asking me about that before he gave it to me. Where I wanted to live. I still don't know. Nolja feels more like home, but I don't know if I want to live there forever either. But the tablet- it was sweet. The bracelet from Anrod was sweet too, but different. The tablet said:
"May the Light of Dyn wash away all dark shadows cast,
And bring with it health and prosperity to all those
Who shall choose to call this dwelling a home."
It does make me feel better. Here at Pearl Beach. Wherever I am. I gave him a gift too. After we found out Anrod got lost, he said he'd go after him. I drew him a rose and wrote, 'May Dyn keep you safe.' on it. I think he really liked it. I barely got it to him before he left with Fenrod. He.. looked at me that way again. Like he did before in the shack when we kept getting interrupted, but yet it was different. He seemed different when he came out, prepared to travel. I'm not sure what it was. But.. I think.. like mama asked... I felt something in my heart. And I knew *the word is scratched out* know.. that I do prefer him most. I don't know if he feels the same, but... I kind of hope at least. Maybe it was that look..
I hate it if I have to hurt Zee or Anrod's feelings. But Mama said she always tried to be honest with her feelings. It wasn't always easy, but things should be honest.
|Naur, 75 - Sunrise, hr 4|
So many people stuffed into one tiny room! And there! Mama makes another one! When will she stop?!
|Naur, 75 - Evening, hr 12|
I came to stay with Mama Ellina, my grandmother, and Mama Ailim, her mother. I wanted to spend time with them because they sleep a lot and seemed sad. I said hello to them and tried to be real polite like Mama and Hesende taught me. I got the idea because Atahnren had been away collecting resources and I wanted to do something for the family too.
They still slept at lot so I decided to make a parchment. Mama had given me a sandstone tablet to write things down, but wanted to have a parchment so I could copy down the important things other people write down.
I hope they wake up soon. I have visited before they were always asleep. I know Uncle Jarvick came to visit them before, but I don't know if they woke up. It must be really lonely for them, because Papa Holm is with the Gods and Papa Mattes left a long time ago, and most of my Aunties and Uncles left too.
|Elen, 75 - Before dawn, hr 3|
Mama Ailim woke up and talked to me a bit. She is super friendly. She answered a question I asked her that I put down in a new thing I am writing. I'm calling it "Questions for our Elders". I'm gonna put all of the Questions Mama Lania asked Mama Ellina and Papa Mattes when she was a baby, and the questions she asked Mama Talia when she came to Iron Mountain, and the questions I got to ask Papa Valandil.
I feel bad being away from Papa Valandil, but I know that Hesende and Belliri will keep him company.
I really liked talking to Mama Ailim. She seemed really sweet and not too lonely or sad. Mama Ellina sure is lucky to have such a great Mama. I hope she wakes up soon so I can spend time with her.
|Lasse, 75 - Afternoon, hr 9|
Mama Ellina still hasn't woken up yet. And Mama Ailim hasn't woken up since that first time. I am getting really lonely. Maybe now that the long metal knife is done they will wake up and respond to all the things I said to them.
The new babies keep coming in, and so did Atahnren and Hesende. I wish I had been awake to say hello. I wish I new the names for the new babies. I took one of them home. He was a silly boy. But when I went home everyone was asleep and no one could tell me his name. There were a lot of babies there. More babies now than all the other, older kids. When Atahnren came he told me that Papa fed Mama lots of fish and her belly got big with babies. I didn't know babies come from fish.
I really miss my faimly. I told Mama I wanted to stay for a year, but I don't know if I can. I think it'll be better when the elders wake up. Then we can talk and play together.
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