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Words for a Life [Story, closed, open to OOC, comments and criticism appreciated!]

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Rakka'li Kuhn (right) and his twin Rakka'sae Kuhn (left) at fourteen namedays.



Sixth Astral Era ~ 1572


“My feet hurt.”


Another stretch of silence then, broken only by the barely audible thump of footfalls on the forest floor. This one lasted long enough for Li to speculate that perhaps his twin had finally decided that whining wasn't worth the energy, but just as his tension began to ebb slightly he started up again.


“Li, my feet really hurt...”


“...we've walked the night away...”


“..and we've not eaten. Do we have te walk on sore feet with empty bellies?”


This litany continued unabated for several minutes. Though he occasionally grunted at his brother or offered a distracted denial, for the most part Li ignored Sae. Mother always told him to ignore it when he got this way, as it was just his way of enduring. But Li was only fourteen after all, and hardly the most patient of his siblings.


Li stopped suddenly, “Sae, quiet,” he used a tone that he hoped would draw out the more sensible part of his brother, the part that would be silent and listen. When Sae didn't start up again Li jumped up and perched himself atop the apex of a huge, knotty root. He strained his catlike ears about, listening, then sniffed the air the way he'd seen his mother do it a hundred, hundred times.


TheTwelveswood is burning, but it's far yet, long as the wind doesn't shift.


Li craned his gaze upward then, although they'd been walking a long time Sae wasn't exactly correct that they'd walked the night away. The adolescent Miqo'te boy scanned the canopy, hoping to find some sign of the Lover, but the thickness of the trees and the smoke and the chaos made it a futile effort.


Li turned his gaze back to the forest floor and closed his eyes so that he could really listen. He could hear Sae's breath and feel his eyes on him, purple like his own, and their mother's. For what little fortune had befallen them that night, Li was thankful that Sae had not see what happened to their mother. Sae had always been the weaker one. A thousand lectures on Greenwrath and Woodsin flooded back into Li's mind.


Don't live in the forest, live with the forest.


It was a familiar saying that their mother and siblings had uttered too often for anyone to count. But all of their kindness and care in the wood had seemed like wasted effort when the forest went mad. Li didn't understand why Menphina's Hound decided to burn the wood, perhaps they had angered the Lover in some way, or perhaps the Twelve were, all of them, angry. Li just didn't know, but mother had died all the same. Slain by the raging wood.


In truth Li hadn't seen exactly what killed his mother. They'd been gawking at the brilliance of the Hound's wrath, then there was terror and the burning wood, and Li couldn't remember all of it. He recalled seeing his mother turned to face what looked like the forest, come to life with rage, she had to have known the end was coming, but she faced it with the same enduring stoicism she faced everything else in life.


Li didn't remember how he found Sae, or their flight, it was only some hours later that he'd come to his senses and his brother's complaints had started up. The distraction of walking and the annoyance kept his mind from things, but now that he'd stopped all he could think of were those final moments.


Oh mother, the wood has slain you. What did we do to bring this upon us? What will come to pass now? You promised to tell us the story of our father on our nameday, did that story pass with you? Forever? Mother...




Broken from his mournful reverie, Li looked down at his twin, he had come closer, perhaps sensing his brother's state, even with their eyes so suited for the night his brother seemed barely a silhouette, gray on black, blurry. Blinking, Li hopped down from the root, and continued the direction he'd been walking before.


“Li?” Sae chimed again, a bit more urgently.


Li almost didn't answer him, “What?”


Uncertainly, the shyer twin continued, “..we should go back 'n find mother. The wind is not like to turn, so if we move upwind o' the fire we ought to stay safe from the flames...”


“No,” it was curt, and final.


A few more seconds, “..but Li we don't have any food er anything te hunt with...”


“We can't.”


“...why not? Do you really want te sleep out in the sun? It's te bright, ye know that I can't..”


“I said no.”


Another few more seconds, Li could feel the frustration climbing. He hoped his brother wouldn't speak again.


“...but what if we can't find 'er tomorrow..?”


Li whirled on him suddenly, his silent, private mourning burned to ash by his anger as easily as the wood was burning now. How could Sae not know? How could he not understand why they couldn't go back?


“Mother is dead Sae! She's dead! And we're like to be dead te if ye don't still yer fool tongue 'n walk!” Sae was wide-eyed, shocked, “Have ye considered that I wouldn't possibly lead us away from everyone like this unless we hadn't no other choice!? I know ye've not room enough for wit in that head of yers b-”


Li stopped short,having noticed that Sae's shocked gaze had broken from him and was now focusing on something behind Li. There was a pressure in his back too, under his left shoulder blade, the sort that a tiny, stinging insect might bring. A second later that pressure turned to agony as something jagged tore its way out of him. He stumbled forward, crying out.




The surging panic dulled the pain as Li whirled around to see an Ixal scout, his blood dripping from the beast mans cruelly barbed spear. Li was very afraid, but he was also very certain he didn't want to die. Everyone heard stories about Ixal cruelty, but this was the first time he'd seen one so close. Somewhere buried in his panic Li realized that the Spinner had graced him with a bit of luck, the wound was bleeding a great deal, but he didn't think it was slowing him down, much.


The Ixal charged, so Li scooped up a stone and threw it in its face. The blow was glancing, but it did give him enough time to dart out of the way. It screeched at him as he dashed out of the spears path, then used the base of one of the huge trees to change direction quickly. He meant to shout something to Sae but it ended up coming out as gibberish. The bird man had finished turning then, and was lifting the spear up to stab at him again. Li did the first thing that came to mind, he rushed it.


Li heard something from Sae, but the ferocity of the moment made the words meaningless, he barely passed under the tip of the spear and grabbed the thing around its lean torso, a stupid move he realized, but he honestly had no idea what he was doing. In the chaos the Ixal managed to lose the spear, so it opted to beat and scratch at him while Li held on for dear life, frightened out of his wits that the thing's wicked, fanged beak mouth would find a way to get him.


Suddenly, Li's back was on fire with pain again as the creature found the open wound and pushed, he screamed for Sae to do something, then bit the thing as hard as he could, hoping that its tough hide wouldn't tear his fangs out.


There was a jolt, and then the Ixal screeched, but Li kept fighting, heedless. Eventually it let him go and sank, so he freed up his arms and started beating on the thing. He didn't realize it was dead until after Sae had pulled him off of it and he had looked again, this time noticing the spear buried in the base of its neck. Sae had killed it.


Now that the panic was gone the pain in his back drew his attention like a bonfire in total darkness. Li wanted nothing more than to stop and tend to his hurt, but this was obviously an Ixal scout, and it was not likely that the thing was alone out here. He and Sae had been lucky, but if more came Li realized their chances of fighting another one was slim at best. His eyes met Sae's for a moment, then he grabbed his twin's hand and started off as fast as he could. Sae didn't say a word.


They trampled through the underbrush together. Li, hardly paying attention to where they were going, Sae being dragged along in silence behind him. The taste of blood was in Li's mouth, but he realized that it was his own, he must have caught his own tongue when he tried to bite the Ixal. Stupid idea, he realized. He hadn't even pierced the things hide.


Li struggled to keep his pace, but despite his efforts he knew he was at his limit. His breath was coming ragged now, and though he kept focusing on his foot work eventually he made a mistake and tripped, letting go of Sae's hand and tumbling to the base of a tree, limp as he fell.


The forest floor was far more comfortable than it should have been. Dimly Li recalled a story that his mother told him about some Ul'dahn lord. There was a word for them, but he couldn't remember it in his haze. It was a story about how the foolish lord had been tricked by a wily thief into believing that a plain feather bed was magical and the most comfortable in all the world, but because he wanted to believe that it was real the bed really did feel more comfortable than anything he'd ever slept in. Li thought the forest floor must be something like that feeling.


There were arms wrapping him up in a hug and turning him on his side. He groaned in protest, thinking his mother was trying to wake him, but soon the pain in his back began again and he realized it was Sae. He mumbled something to him, but he was sure it didn't make any sense, and seconds later he forgot what he wanted to say. After a few minutes of shapeless consciousness he realized he was on his back again, and that there was a cheek, wet with tears, being pressed against his own.


“Please don't die Li. Please....”


It was Sae, begging him not to die and pressing his cheek against his, something they did when they were very young. It forced Li to consider for a moment that he actually might be dying. It was amusing, a pathetic end for someone with such an auspicious birth. Their mother had been so proud to birth twin boys, and though she loved the lot of her children a great deal, it was obvious to the older siblings that she treasured the two of them the most, her usual mask of stoicism cracking for the two of them more than any other. So pathetic. He wanted to sleep very badly, but Sae was talking again. No, he wasn't talking. He was praying.


“I pray to you, oh Lover. My prayers in the past've been selfish, 'n many. Now I pray for my brother. Now I pray for me brother. Spare 'im his life, and I'll cast away 'at which brought 'im harm.Because my words tore 'is attention from the danger that surrounds us now, I'll never speak another word. This is swear on me mother's grave. Please. Just let 'im live. Please...”


Li forced his eyes open, the silhouette that was Sae hovered over him, gaze upward, streaked with tears. Peaking through the clouds and the canopy above, he caught a glimpse of the Lover. Pale and beautiful, alone in a night sky that was a shade lighter than before, a subtle herald of the encroaching dawn.


Li knew then that he would live.

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That'll be my burden, actually. Li and I are two different players. He lives in a completely different timezone than I do, in fact. Well--not polar opposite timezones, but CST vs EST. We're nowhere near each other.


I expect we'll do a small bit of coordination as far as Sae's communication goes, but I don't want to pin him down with "official translator duty." I intend on using descriptive narrative. Thankfully, the Miqo'te have the added bonuses of feline ears and tails for additional expression / body language. Worse comes to worse, my emotes might be pseudo preemptive meta, allowing other characters to decide whether or not they understand Sae's body language. (ie - Rakka'sae grimaces and cocks his head to the side, nose scrunched and eyes narrowing to slits. It was clear he didn't like something about [insert Name].)

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Good story, I enjoyed it!  Thank you for sharing it.  I wonder, do you plan to play these characters?  The vow of silence is an absolutely interesting tool (or limitation).  How do you plan on playing such?  Would you be able to dual box and translate with Li?


Thanks so much! It's possible that Li might have to translate for Sae sometimes. He's not 100% incapable of speech really. So I think Sae's player will turn to mine to whisper something if he has too (assuming that I'll be there of course, these twins won't be attached at the hip).

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