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Disagreeing Hearts [Closed]


K'nahli

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((Previous scene))

 

The morning sun weighed down hard upon the landscape where even gold gave way to rust, pencilling new cracks into the crisp soil and draining away all trace of the torrential downpour that had swallowed the lands the night previous. The distant shade of Ul'dah against the blue horizon slowly drew colour as the brightening sky imbued it with a renewed strength, prompting Her dominating shadow to begin it's gradual retreat across the sands, and in time, revealing three new ones of a far more humble size. That a creation of man could eclipse the lands so was an almost scary thought to the ignorant little mind of a tribal Seeker. There was of course some fascination to be found in the matter, though such idle romanticism was further from the huntress's mind than had ever been before, where even as she quietly led the pair of chocobo forth by the reigns, she allowed herself no opportunity for even a passing moment's reverie.

 

It was of no surprise to the girl that it was only when the monumental city had been reduced to a mere fraction of it's great size that the familiar scent of a wayward companion had finally reached the pinnacle of it's strength. Though the storm has washed away most traces of his existence overnight, tracking him served to be of little challenge to a girl raised on the sands. Her course would divert from the main road, though the terrain would thankfully offer neither her nor the birds any significant difficulty as she slowly pushed on to a destination guided solely by her senses. When the lonely signs of a camp eventually drew into view, so too did the seemingly sleeping form of K'rahto. Had he shifted or not since the sun had risen, she could not tell - though the answer mattered little. Pausing for only a moment, the girl stepped forth uninvited with an unhurried pace, the soft crunching of both boot and claw against the flaky soil doing little to camouflage their approach. She would draw to a stop but a few feet behind him, abandoning her grip upon both sets of reigns as she closed the final few feet in a bid to reach for his resting arm.

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The first step to become someone more similar to what he wanted to be had been taken. He didn’t succumb to K’nahli’s call the last night; among other things, he’d refused to witness her weakness at that moment. Then why? Why was he feigning to be asleep now, eyes actually open with his back turned to the approaching girl? He was waiting, he knew he wanted to wait. Wait until her fingers made contact with his arm, perhaps in what might be the very last touch between them. It wasn’t until he felt her on his skin, light as the touch actually was, that he could actually speak.

 

“Ready to go back?”

 

He said, not moving just yet. He wouldn’t until she retreated.

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A very faint sense of surprise, made known to the Tia only for the soft graze left by her retreating fingers - flinching away from his voice as though it may pose them any danger. With his name now caught in her throat, the girl exchanged her waking call for that of a simple acknowledgement; her tone careful, yet unrevealing. Removing herself from the Tia's personal space then, her hand reached toward a satchel tied to K'rahto's chocobo, emerging soon-after with the remnants of the meal he had left behind in the cave along with her. In truth, it was little more than a few mouthfuls, certainly nothing he might see as a gift or perhaps even a pleasantry; though such an amount was better than no meal at all. The trip home would be a long one after all.

 

"I brought you this" she declared with a subdued voice, awaiting his response - her mellow gaze following along the length of her arm to the wrapped piece of cooked-meat that reached as far as lancer's shoulder.

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[align=justify]His eyes had closed half way when slender fingers graced his skin. It’d lasted a mere split of a second, yet it sufficed to tear a secret shiver up his back. However, he wondered if any other fingers could have created the same effect. What was it? A wish for being touched, or a wish for being touched by her? Not even he could tell at that moment, as if his brain had gone numb from thinking too much. The lack of sleep, perhaps.

 

K’rahto stood up, grabbed his broken lance to tie it up around his back as he’d done before, and finally turned to look at her with a serious, albeit tired expression. K’nahli was taking something out of the bag his chocobo was carrying, the remaining of last night’s dinner. The gesture looked like an apology to him, and taking a quick look at her revealed that she wasn’t her healthiest self today. The change might not be perceived by any normal person, but nothing related to K’nahli could escape K’rahto’s attention. Had she been visited by her own demons during the night?

“…Thanks,” was all he said as he walked closer to take the offering, making sure not to touch her fingers this time. He simply placed it back inside the satchel before getting on his chocobo, ready to depart.

“Let’s go.”

 

Nothing would be the same any longer once they reached home.[/align]

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Little did the girl think of his words of gratitude, genuine as they may have somewhat sounded coming from him. Little, too, did she make of his simple decision to save the token for later as opposed to indulging himself now. In truth, she was in no particular rush to return home - no particular rush to hurry anywhere for that matter, and so she had intended to allow him whatever time he needed before he was ready to depart. Perhaps he thought himself doing her a favour, or perhaps he simply wasn't hungry. Either way, it was an irrelevant matter she would not think to question.

 

His next words were answered with an almost shy nod of her head, the girl's every animation reserved and lacking in energy - a demeanour that may be perceived as unusually soft for the huntress and more alike to that of her more tender-natured sister. Following the boy's lead, albeit with some slight difficulty, K'nahli mounted her chocobo with no further words shared between them before quietly guiding her loyal companion by the reigns back in the direction of the road to lead the long trek home to Drybone.

 

[...]

 

With the early hours of the morning placed well behind them, the pair had long since passed Blackbrush, the last bastion of outsider civilization standing between them and home - and the last which they would have to suffer for some time to come. The midday sun burned ferociously upon it's perch high above, resembling that of funeral pyre set adrift in the clear sea of cerulean above. Such heat was unforgiving in it's dominance with even the most native of the land's inhabitants brought to heel beneath it's intensity, though luckily something to be considered of lesser concern to those of Seeker breed. That was not to say that any respite offered by the lands would go unacknowledged, however, and shade and water both would not be too distant a hope as both miqo'te journeyed toward the large watering hole that lay between them and the more barren lands of Drybone.

 

".....nn.."

 

For K'nahli, however, even the sweet comforts offered by such a thought were rather far from mind. By now, it was difficult to continue muffling the weak protests humming away from the depths of her throat, the slightly harsher breathing that had harassed her already-parched lips... and the wary fatigue that slowly ate away at her ability to sit firm and upright in her saddle. As a young child struggling to keep awake in the late hours of the night, her vision began to fade into intermittent darkness, her posture gradually easing to one side, until finally, the girl slipped completely from her saddle and landed as an unmoving heap upon the dusty, Thanalan floor.

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[align=justify]His chocobo took the lead. K’rahto never turned his head back to look at his traveling partner; he could hear the other chocobo’s steps behind him, and that was everything he needed to know. Engaged in the same silence he’d been displaying from the day before, the Tia didn’t seek to give K’nahli any sort of conversation on this occasion either. His thoughts just wandered away, eager to reach the tribe and be done with that damn trip, even if that meant that his life would change forever. Perhaps it had already.

 

A noticeable thud interrupted his thoughts from behind. Something felt wrong. Frowning with confusion, he turned his head this time, only for his eyes to open wide as the scene they witnessed. K’nahli, always proud and strong K’nahli, was lying down on her chocobo’s feet as if an arrow had pierced her. Definitely not the turn he’d have expected, no matter how weak she displayed herself the last night. His reaction was immediate: he dismounted quickly and ran to the fallen huntress, holding her with a hand on her back  to help her sit up.

 

“Oi, Yohko! What’s wrong?” he hurried up to say, his tone still concerned despite the permanent frown in his features. Not waiting for an answer, he placed a hand on her forehead.

 

“Did you sleep under the rain or what…?” he couldn’t help but scold her, equally annoyed and worried. Something had definitely been wrong with K'nahli for the past while...[/align]

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Despite the new life breathed into his new-found sense of anxiety, the fervency of the Tia's protests went completely unheard by the unconscious huntress. Supporting the girl in his arms now, the extent of her diminishing health had become more than apparent. The pale complexion that had corrupted her youthful visage bells earlier had given way to a more distinct, reddish hue; a strong indication of a freshly-induced fever when in the company of her unnaturally heavy breathing and the thin film of sweat that had since drawn across her brow and down along the side of her puffy face. Her clothing, despite being exposed to the unrelenting sun for the best part of the morning by now, yet revealed subtle traces of moisture - a dampness that would have certainly been long-since dried had she spent the night in the company of a fire. Rhetorical though his comments may have been, the Tia would soon confirm that his remarks was sorely accurate, and regardless of his eagerness to scold in any attempt draw her out of this weakened state, it would immediately become clear that words alone would not reach her.

 

Maintaining her distance as she slowly circled around K'rahto's crouched form; Suna chirped anxiously as her curious nature drew her attentions toward that of her fallen rider, her behaviour easily suggesting that even she knew that something were oddly amiss.

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  • 2 weeks later...

[align=justify]"Stupid huntress…" the Tia muttered under his breath, frowning. Something was definitely wrong with her, and if K'rahto didn’t know her better, he might have wondered if the girl was simply trying hard to get his attention and delay the trip back. It was as if fate itself were preventing him from reaching the tribe and taking his next step. In any case, he didn’t know if those chocobos would be prepared to hold the weight of two people, and K’nahli needed to get rid of her damp clothes as soon as possible anyway. "Stupid huntress…" he cursed again, with little more energy this time, as he stood up with K’nahli on his arms.

 

There wasn’t much of a choice here. K’rahto searched for a good spot under a rock that acted as half a cave, and hurried up to make a small fire. His cheeks had coloured themselves a faint shade of red even as he did that, for the Tia was aware of what was coming next. K’nahli needed to change clothes, and it was clear that she wouldn’t do that on her own, being unconscious. Thus, swallowing hard and painted with a permanent frown in his eyes, K’rahto approached her and started undoing the straps in her boots. Her gloves followed, carefully removed to bare a skin he tried not to pay much attention to. Then, doing his best to turn his head to the side with both annoyance and embarrassment, his hands reached for the lace of her top…[/align]

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Having been stolen away to the shade's respite, a more natural colour had just barely begun to return to the girl's face in the time that K'rahto had made preparations to create fire anew - her feverish hue instead seemingly leeching on to it's nearest victim as he fulfilled his familial obligations to the girl, while in turn violating those of the 'Tia'. Even as he collected her weary frame in his arms for a second time to support her, the girl had not stirred; deep in a coma-like state she had all but seemed, her breathing still heavy and brow carrying a faint though noticeable glisten. Her boots and gloves both were to be removed without incident, unaided; their empty shells handled almost too carefully when placed to dry in the company of a fire that dared not crackle and stir beneath the unusually heavy atmosphere. Had he played to an audience, none would doubt that the Tia reacted as one whom could not bide his time enough in his endeavours. Though the inevitable step had come, and so too had his fingers come to reluctantly intertwine with the final lace that shielded the girl from indecency. He was alone, completely alone in that moment of disarray and uncertainty as her clothing's tying was slowly undone to but a loose hold, with little else but the weight of the fabric itself to loyally steel and hold it's ground in defence of the girl's honour - the right flank that was her shoulder strap having already fallen in defeat to mere gravity. An uncommonly soft hold eventually greeted her either arm, collecting the edges of her top in a fingertip grip to prepare to complete the final step and cross a barrier that was not meant to be crossed.... when a soft murmur would shatter the steel-like focus that had forged within those molten gems of amber.

 

"...nn...?"

 

When heavy lids and lifting darkness would give way sight once more, a weak infusion of crimson would arise to meet with the depths of the forge, sealing the pair tightly into a situation that, to both, no doubt defied mere explanation.

 

"...K'rahto...?" her voice would arrive with a fragility that betrayed a near-complete absence of strength. Her eyes fluttered helplessly as fatigue valiantly sought to steal her back to the darkness once more, and though failing, managing to at least rob the girl of her senses; her awareness of the moment and unusual closeness of the Tia in that very instant.

 

"......why have we stopped?"

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