Jump to content

The Breath of Thal


Recommended Posts

((The following occurs a short time before and during this post in Bring the Daughters Home.))




D'aijeen arrived on the ship from the Silver Bazaar in the late afternoon. The cool wind from the sea stirred up the heat of the desert and they spun around one another, pulling on her robes and the bangs hanging out from under her green hood. Her face was downcast; she didn't even look up as the boat moored itself to the small pier and the ferryman disembarked. The burly Hyur who stank of salt and old fish lingered near the boat, beckoning for D'aijeen to step out and telling her over and over that they had arrived. She heard him, but she couldn't move, sitting with her face down, staring at the blood that still stained her clothes beneath her green traveling robe.


Her clothes, which had always been so immaculately white, stained now with the blood of her... What would she even call D'ahl, now that she was dead? A passing acquaintance? She had loved D'ahl, but had not thought of her as... and in the end... the hound...


The Hyur man stomped on the edge of the boat, making it sway to get her attention.


"I am aware that we have arrived!" D'aijeen leapt up. She didn't feel the motion, but she was on the pier in a moment, dizzy but standing steadily. Her stance was wide, the muscles in her body so tight that she might have been stone encased in skin. Her tail stuck out straight behind her, her ears squeezing her skull, the muscles on her face palpably contorted into hideous shapes. She listened to herself shouting, "Such a barbaric, empty-headed animal to not give a woman a moment's peace! Where are you in such a hurry to? What grave or miserable pit must you so urgently drag your massive, hideous carcass to that you would protest to me! Your voice is like the belch of a corpse cut open, but I pity the insects in whatever pit you go to, for your stench exceeds the breath of Thal himself!"


"Shit, lady," the man stepped back and raised his hands. "You're the one who smells like Thal's breath. Calm down."


"Begone!" Something ripped out of the shadows between D'aijeen's robe and her body, falling through the planks on the pier and sliding outward. The wood beneath the Hyur man broke upward, throwing him out over the water. He landed half-on his own boat and then slid into the water with a confused wail. In the shadows beneath the pier, a man-faced, ink-black Voidsent retreated like a snake returning to its hole.


D'aijeen took a step back from it just before the thing melted and rose back towards her, slipping beneath her robe once more. "Stop! I don't want you!" She shouted, shifted, spun and stumbled to try and get away from it, but she could feel the chill of the Baalzephon pressing against her skin. "You killed her! It was you, not me!" She ripped the robe from her body and threw it towards the water. the Voidsent remained inside of it, resigned to the shadows. But as D'aijeen crossed her blood-stained arms over her chest and ran down the pier towards the town, sobbing quietly, others moved in the small shadow beneath her feet, chasing her. The cactuar earring bounced beside her tussled hair, its face dappled with dried red droplets.




Crescent Cove's coastline was littered with fishing nets hanging over the beach, hurriedly placed over wooden frames, with both men and women going from one to the other to capture the catch of the day and clean them from all the other messy junk the sea threw at them. The town itself was nothing but a handful of wooden shacks and houses, with no tavern or inn. Travelers had to rely on the good will, and greed, of the locals. 


K'airos had been such a traveler for some time. She was ways off to a side of the village, perched on a rock overlooking the nearby beach, deep in thought. Close to her was another, smaller rock with two long protrusions on the front, two really wide ones next to them and about half a dozen smaller ones to each side, clawing their way into the sand. Nearby, there was a large brown sack, and a scimitar resting against the sand, at arm's reach.

Besides moving rocks, there was something else odd about K'airos. The miqo'te woman was lying on her stone viewpoint with the head hanging from the edge, staring at the limbed rock a few falms away. She was dressed in strangely white clothes that didn't fit her shape: they were too tight on the sides, and the front. And everywhere, if she payed attention. A white bilaud with a carefully tied pink bow, a white hat adorned with a silver ornament on the front. At least the hat fit comfortably over her head. Her looks were broken by the sudden black boots covering her feet. But there was something else. K'airos' red hair was now a pale green, and so were her lips. 

From the pier, the woman looked like a bright white smudge against a brown cliff. 


"I should teach you tricks!" she said cheerfully to the living rock. It did not answer, but she felt the need to continue. "Maybe you could open the door for us. Or peel potatoes! Your pincers are good for that, right?"


The rock raised its antennae slightly and, for a brief moment, it looked like it looked at its own limbs in confusion. 


"Great! I'm glad you agree with the idea!" the girl said, clapping her hands together and rolling off her rock. With this action, she noticed another mostly white figure with green hair and a tail arriving on the piers and moving quickly across them. She smiled, took a deep breath and brought both hands towards her mouth.


"Aijeen! Over here!"


The voice pierced through all the panic and screaming thoughts inside of D'aijeen's head, and she stopped in her tracks, leaning forward and bending at her knees. She coughed and brushed tears at her face. The sleeves of her robe were almost more red than white, all with blood from the night before. For a moment, she was almost afraid to look up at K'airos, unwilling to face the sister that she so adored, and that had chosen someone else over her. Everything D'aijeen had tried to make that right had failed. They had collapsed dramatically that somehow, something inside of her had twisted until she had summoned a beast to... No. no, that hadn't been her! She hadn't willed that! She'd been desperate to stop it!


Part of her blamed K'airos' betrayal for what had happened to D'ahl. If K'airos hadn't lied to her, D'aijeen would not have tried to renew the love between herself and her mother. If she hadn't done that, D'ahl would not have felt betrayed and would not have tried to hurt the woman. Then D'aijeen would not have been so angry. She would not have chased D'ahl down in the night. She would not have...


D'aijeen pulled on her ears violently. Her mind was suddenly full of images from the night before, of the silent fountain, of D'ahl crying alone in the dark, of the monster stepping from the shadows summoned by D'aijeen's fury. D'ahl hanging from its teeth. Her body dashed against the stone again and again, ripped into, split nearly in two. Blood flying everywhere. The dead look in D'ahl's eyes. Screaming.


Voidsent stirring beneath her feet, D'aijeen lifted her eyes to look at K'airos. And D'aijeen broke.


She collapsed to her knees at first in sobs, but only for an instant, and then threw herself forward in desperation. K'airos stood in the sunlight, in the beach she'd been so happy about visiting together. The woman's red hair had turned green, her lips painted green, her Brass Blades uniform traded out for a too-tight white ensemble obviously stolen from D'aijeen's own wardrobe. The girl had disguised herself as D'aijeen. It was ridiculous. It was annoying. It was adorable. It was K'airos, and everything she loved about her.


D'aijeen cried out wordlessly as she ran, embarrassed by the base disregard of the gesture but unable to contain it. She was still crying, felt herself shivering and numb all the way to the tip of her tail, but she didn't care. She ran to her sister, threw herself bodily at the woman and clutched at her, and just cried.


K'airos smile broke down into a thin line when her eyes noticed that the red on her sister's clothes was actually blood, and then her expression broke again into mild despair.


"What happened? Are you hurt?" she asked, eyes wide open. She glanced at her without letting go, and she quickly concluded that there were no wounds to worry about. Only a gross red color covering her attire. She knelt down, letting Daijeen rest her head against her shoulder.


"What happened?" she asked again, her voice lowering. Behind them, the limbed rock moved closer to them and stared at the shadows below them.


"I don't know." D'aijeen collapsed against her sister, pulled herself as close as she could get, and then closer still. If it weren't for her weak body,s he might've crushed her sister from her desperation to pull herself into the woman's lap. "I don't know. I don't know. I don't know I don't know I don't I don't I didn't do it! It wasn't me!" She couldn't stop herself from crying or talking, blubbering senseless words at her sister. D'aijeen choked, tried to hold her breath, tried anything to stop herself from crying and reclaim her mind, but nothing changed. She felt like she was bleeding out her sorry, coughing it up like blood. It was not that the warmth and closeness of her sister was not reassuring; it was strengthening beyond compare. But it merely promised that she would recover. It could not stop the sadness before it was exhausted.


"D'ahl is dead!" she finally managed. "She died! I couldn't stop it. I wanted to stop it. I didn't want it to happen! I didn't want it to!" She pulled at the bow on her sister's chest. "K'airos, say it's not my fault. I didn't do it! I wouldn't do something like that! Tell me I didn't do it!"


"Of course you didn't!" K'airos' answer was quick, a reaction from her instincts. She had no idea what had transpired. Her sister was stained with blood, but she dared not  to imagine anything.  It didn't matter right now. She felt that her duty as a sister was to soothe D'aijeen first and ask later. Or perhaps never ask about it. She rubbed her shoulder reassuringly.


"It's not your fault. Do not blame yourself." she said, and repeated those words two more times, moving her body back and forth, cradling her in her arms. "Just cry until you feel better, alright? Crying will do you good. Don't hold it!"


She did cry. She wouldn't have been able to stop herself, but with K'airos' permission, she stopped trying not to cry. She tried to cry all the more. D'aijeen cried for her sister, shaking in the woman's hands. As she cried, she tried to say, "I wanted to fix everything. I wanted everything to be better for us. I went to mom and talked to her, but D'ahl got jealous. And then D'ahl and mom fought, and D'hein got angry, and that Lalafel attacked D'ahl! Everything just fell apart. I tried to fix everything but it just fell apart! It's not my fault. I tried. I tied. Everyone was so terrible and I couldn't do anything." She wailed, "I wanted to make everything perfect for you but I couldn't! I'm sorry." D'aijeen hadn't expected herself to apologize, had almost forgotten that it was for K'airos that she'd been doing everything. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry."


K'airos had trouble understanding the words mixed with the crying. She catched glimpes of it, and made a mental picture with what she got: There was D'hal, a lalafell and a fight. That tiny creature must have been her murderer. But there was also her mother. It could not be the woman called Antimony, for she wasn't her mother, and D'aijeen had just said "mom". Not a pretender or a fraud. Not Antimony. Just "mom".

She almost smiled at that.

Yet she did not. While she was forming these images in her head, she immediately threw them all away, one by one. There was nothing to think about. Nothing mattered more than her crying sister.


"That's alright. You did nothing wrong!" the words came out quickly, pushed by her sisterly instincts. "It wasn't your fault." she told her once more. And then again: "You don't have to apologize. It's not your fault!"


The words helped. K'airos was the only person in the world whose words meant anything anymore. D'aijeen closed her eyes and held close to her sister, feeling the movement of her chest as she breathed, smelling that unmistakable scent that had been with her for all the best parts of her life. Truly, if there was anywhere in this world that love existed, then it was where K'airos was. If any person who was truly capable of it, then it was only K'airos. And herself. For what else could this be?


It was exactly what her mother did not feel for her.


"Airos." D'aijeen lay her head against her sister's chest, lay her hands flat against her body. "Why are you dressed as me?"


She failed to see the change of subject coming, and so her words strumbled into each other awkwardly, forming a meaningless sound. She tilted her head, looking into the sea. "Well, you told me nobody but you should find me." she started after a short cough. "So...I thought...after a while...that if I was here as a Brass Blade somebody could recognize me. Then I dressed up as you, because if anybody was looking for me, they wouldn't be looking for you! And you wouldn't confuse me with you, because you are you and you know that I am not you!  So you could recognize that you were really me! Except I wasn't...you, so you couldn't really confuse me with yourself! But others could...you know, confuse me with you and then they wouldn't find me."


K'airos felt satisfied with her logic once she was done explaining. She turned her head again to look at the odd living and limbed rock behind them. It clicked its pincers together. She thought that it must have been applauding at her cleverness.


"That's very clever," D'aijeen said, playing with the bow on her sisters chest. She sniffled, the crying having slowed by the tears still flowing down her cheeks. She pressed herself firmly against her sister, closing her eyes again. "Airos, I command you to forget every comman I've given you. Think whatever you want about anything."


It took a very long moment for her emotions and thoughts to catch up to each other. Her mother, K'piru, and the imposter called Antimony were the same. She always knew that, but just now her mind could actually accept it in the same way she had accepted it as a fact, back in Drybone. Her tribe was alive and well. D'aijeen had lied to her about her own't family's death, and of her tribe. 

K'airos remained there, kneeling by her sister, cradling her between her arms. 


After what must have been a full minute, she tilted her head and looked down, smiling. "I think...!" she cheered "...that we should get you cleaned up. and changed! And then we can eat something. But not here. All the food gives me a tummyache. So we should go to the Bazaar, or to Vesper Bay. Spend a couple of days there by the beach! We could even go swimming! Or rent a boat! Shelly will be our first mate!"

She finished by looking and pointing with one hand to the living rock. It was still clicking its pincers together. K'airos smiled broadly, identifying it as another proof of smallshell aproval.


"See? He agrees! It's a good idea!"


Wishing she could cry again, D'aijeen just curled up tighter against her sister, eyes pinching shut. "You still want to," she breathed, her tone embarrassingly high, cracking. Knowing everything, having a clear image of it, completely in control of her every thought and action, she still chose D'aijeen. It was real, her real sister, really loving her.


"Airos." D'aijeen lifted herself away from her sister for just a moment, grabbed her head in both hands and turned the woman's face to look at her. And then she lay her body against K'airos' body, and her lips against K'airos' lips, still crying, but happy.


That was the second thing K'airos had not seen coming that day. Her instincts kicked off again almost immediately by demanding a sudden and forceful action. But how could she? Her sister had witnessed someone's death, and she had come to her, broken, covered in blood and tears, looking for reassurance and soothing. Pushing her away could destroy that. She had to react firmly, and yet she couldn't.


She placed her hands on D'aijeen's shoulders and gently pushed her away, creating space between them. Her eyes were anchored at D'aijeen's shoulders. She frowned and opened the mouth twice, and twice she failed to say anything. Then she tried a third time, and something did come out of her. "Is that a...a thing of the Dodo Tribe?" she asked, trying to find excuses for her sister's behaviour, even though she had no idea of what any of that tribe's custom were actually like. "That's not something that sisters do. We should talk about that..." she said, and then quickly added in a forced new cheerful tone that was almost the same as the real one: "But first we should get you a new set of clothes! And introduce you to Shelly!"

She stood up, and tried to make D'aijeen stand up with her. She didn't wait for her to answer or say anything, interrupting any possible reply with more words that were increasingly upbeat. 


"Maybe we could learn to sail! That'd be a nice change from Thanalan. Oh, and go shopping! Vesper Bay must have some Lominsan wares before and cheaper than in the city! And I hear they have a pretty statue of a lalafell lord. Some...Lolorito guy? I don't know who he is, but he has his own statue!"


Letting herself be stood up by Airos, she smiled, the look in her eyes as she considered her sister one of pure adoration. "Yes, it is a Dodo thing. And a you-and-I thing." She continued to play with the bow on her sister's chest. "I would love to go everywhere with you, Airos, my shining sun, my new Azeyma. But first, yes, a change of clothes. I have brought none, so I'll have to find a private place and undress you."


In her shadow, unseen things still stirred, though they did so sluggishly. The sank and lost cohesion, flattening out until they were indistinguishable from her normal shadow.


"Take me wherever you want to go, Airos," the small, frail woman breathed. "You are the light of day, the brightest thing in the world, and I want to be the shadow that you cast, as close as skin."


"Alright, let's change." K'airos nodded. Raising one arm away from town towards the coast, she said: "I've not seen many people on that side, so we could change somewhere there."


She walked back to the rock she had been using to stare at Shelly, the smallshell and living rock, before D'aijeen arrived and picked up the bag that was lying next to it. The sound of metal pieces clashing against each other could be heard when she lifted it over her shoulder. She let out a sigh of relief. D'aijeen had at least come back to her usual inscrutable self. 


"I'll change first, since you need the clothes I'm using. Then I'll keep watch!" She made a little hop, turning around to face her sister. "Then we'll eat! And while we eat, we'll discuss about your new diet! Because I think that you are too thin." she said, pulling from her clothes to emphasize how tight and uncomfortable they were on her.


"Let the smallshell keep watch," D'aijeen said, her expression unchanged, her eyes taking in the tightness of the clothes on her sister. "Nobody will bother us, and you'll need my help to get out of those clothes without damaging them. As for my diet," She followed after K'airos, her tail swinging behind her as she did. The young woman, thin and dark, stained with blood and smelling vaguely of corpses, leaned forward and said in a quiet tone, "Maybe I'll just take a few bites of you while you're changing."


She shook her head. "What? No!" she started. But then she let her shoulders drop, turning around and walking towards what she thought was a big enough cluster of boulders near the cliff. "I guess that If I break your clothes you won't have anything to put on." she said, defeated. 

A few more steps and she spoke again "You also need some actually filling food! And my diet doesn't include myself for dinner. You need actual filling food! Shelly!" 


The smallshell stopped clapping her limbs around between each other at the shout. It wasn't actually responding to it's name, but K'airos concluded that was the only logical explanation. With a stern but amused frown she commanded the walking rock: "Keep guard! If anyone comes by, pinch them with your...pinchers! Or just look cute and distracted them." 


The little creature moved one antennae up and down. K'airos interpreted this as a salute, and so she turned happily to continue their march. But Shelly did not move from its spot, instead choosing to keep clapping its pincers.


Following her sister in silence, D'aijeen mostly watched the woman's tail. The way she kept talking to the smallshell just made D'aijeen smile wider and wider, energized her tired body more and more, chasing her despair and grief farther away. Surely if D'aijeen loved someone as much as she loved K'airos, she could not be the kind of person who would kill D'ahl.


"I think my diet should include little nibbles of you," D'aijeen said wryly, following her sister very closely. "Not with dinner. After. Maybe right before bed. And you can have a few nibbles of me. Yes! I'm adding that to your diet. A few tastes of Aijeen right before bed."

Link to comment

There were no further discussions about diets while Shelly kept watch as the sisters got to their proper attires. However, K'airos tried to kept herself and D'aijeen distracted by narrating how awful the food in the Cove was, how evil the buzzards were since they constantly tryed to poke Shelly out of her shell, how the air smell too much of salt. By the time they had changed, K'airos had also spoken at lenght about boats. Even though it was clear she didn't know how they worked or why. Her dream boat was some sort of floating wooden cottage, imagined from what she had heard about Gridanian houses, dragged by many pet smallshells that'd crawl their way across the bottom of the sea. After all, boats were made of wood, and wood floated. So anything made of wood should float. And so her cottage would surely float. 

She wondered why there weren't any actual floating cottages in the Cove, but she didn't allow that to better her that much.


With the awkwardness of the dress up out of the way, K'airos lead D'aijeen closer to the fishing village. She was now dressed in her usual red and rust Brass Blade uniform, though her hair was still dyed green, and her lips were painted green. D'aijeen's bloodied clothes had been thrown into the bad, which, naturally, was now much lighter. 

She stopped next to one of the large net racks that littered the village and silently 'borrowed' four fishes from a nearby barrel recently filled with them. 


"I'm not fishing." she offered as an explanation to D'aijeen, though she didn't look at her. "Fishing is silly and boring. I could catch them faster by swimming and using my own hands!" A moment later, she had procured everything she needed to make a small campfire. That is to mean, she found the remains of someone else's and claimed it by right of sitting next to it. 


"Now we just need fire and we can eat."


There was a disappointing lack of nibbling while changing clothes, even as D'aijeen did disrobe her sister and had not passed on any opportunity to make contact. K'airos just prattled on about boats and smallshells, which was adorable but not particularly intimate. It was like K'airos had no sense of romance at all. But that was finel K'airos would have to sleep at some point, after all.


Still, they were here on the beach as evening approached, ready to cook and spend the evening together. That counted for a lot, and D'aijeen had absolutely no complaints she channel aether into her scepter to light fire to the remnants that K'airos had claimed. "All we need is each other, Airos. We can light our own fire whenever we want." She sat down next to the fire, letting her sister take care of the fish. Cooking shouldn't be a problem for her; back int he Sagolii, K'airos had learned the skills of survival that the tribe taught. D'aijeen's skillset had always been a little different, though she was sure if she really needed to cook a fish she could figure it out.


"I'm looking forward to the next few days," D'aijeen looked her sister over again, still amused by the greenness of her hair and lips. "But what about after that? Are we going home to Drybone?"


"I guess. Would you like that?" K'airos asked. She had impaled the fish on sticks and was taking turns twisting them over the fire, then letting them roast in place. Her eyes raised from their future meal to set on her sister.


"I still have duties there, but I could find work someplace else. Of course..." she said, tilting her head and combing her head with her hands, as she hadn't brought a comb. "That would set us back on the savings. Though..." she trailed off again. There was hesitation, a short breath and then the words."And I heard that our tribe was moving closer to it. So I don't know if you'd be comfortable with that. Maybe we could set ourselves near Ul'dah? Or maybe even around the Bay! Or in Horizon. There's less Amalj'aa, too, so I'd just have to deal with even more brainless beasts." She tilted the head the other way and combed that side.


"Do you really want that?" D'aijeen's brow dropped, her voice fell. She leaned forward under the weight of the subject she'd accidentally broached. Had it been an accident? D'aijeen knew how much K'airos missed her family; she knew it now better than ever. "You would move away from the tribe, avoid them, just for my own comfort?" She frowned. "Or would you just house me in Horizon and then go to Drybone on work constantly, keeping me away from them and going to them alone?"


There were a few rebelious locks of hair on K'airos head, and she continued to comb them into submission. "I'd like to see them once per year, at least." she said plainly, as if she was preparing to bargain. "Though I don't know if they'd consider me an exile by now. And...I'd...I'd like to see mom once a moon, too." she added. The rebel locks at last surrendered to her merciless combing. 

She straightened her posture and smiled. "But I will stay with you all the other days, and we'll continue our plans together!" Still smiling, her fingers started tapping against each other, hands raised over her chest. "We'll buy a house and live together there. And we'll have Shelly as a pet! And she'll keep watch for us. Maybe we could set up a shop! You could then stay with me while I work! We'd sell Shelly miniatures! Or...something. I don't know what's good to sell...and I don't know how to manage a shop." She poked her chin with one finger, pondering about something related to the economy of a Shelly based economy. She then lowered her finger, and continued to tap her hands together. "But...how does that sound to you?" She looked at her sister, expecting her answer.


D'aijeen turned her face away, cactuar earring swinging against her temple as he ears dropped to either side. She watched the ocean, and that ridiculous smallshell that K'aiors had somehow obtained. "It's better to keep mom a long way away. I can't stand to look at her." Her whole face folded into her frown suddenly, an ugly expression. Her tail shivered. "Se doesn't love me. I went to her and tried everything, and things only became worse. If you go to her, if you go to them, then they'll only try to keep you. They'll try to take you away from me." And they would succeed, if permitted, for K'airos was more likely to believe their mother than even D'aijeen herself.


"I want you to stay with me," she glared at the sand, nodded her head. "I don't want you to see her or the tribe or anyone else."


"I see." K'airos sighed, closed her eyes and kept very still and quiet to think what she was going to say. She didn't believe that their mother didn't love D'aijeen, but then her sister had a strange sense of love.


"I won't see the tribe." she finally said. Another sigh left her mouth afterwards. "But I still want to see mom. She never tried to keep me with her, or to make me leave you. If she tries to...uhm...separate us then I'll..." Her voice was calm until that moment. It shivered. Her tail moved from one side to the other in one quick swoop. She tapped her fingers again. "I'll stop seeing her. But we'll give her a chance. I want to give her a chance."


"I've already given her a chance!" D'aijeen surged up to her feet and spun on her sister. Some ambient aether remaining in her fingers sprang unfocused from her hands and crackled in the air between them, swirling as though on invisible lines between them. "Too many! Too many! Every time she touches us -- every time she comes near me -- things get worse! Things get worse!" She dropped down to her knees again, shivering, her voice getting quieter as her voice strained again. "I couldn't stand things getting worse again. No, no, no. I don't want it!"


"It won't get worse! I miss her and I want to see her!" K'airos protested, dropping her hands down to her knees to help herself stand up. Her tail swope to the other side again as she did this. "It won't get worse. I'll only see her every once in a long while! And I can speak with her! She'll listen to me. What does she have to do for you to be okay with this?" She barely managed to stop herself from kicking the sand under her feet with frustration. Instead, the aborted action came out as an emphatic stomp.


Tail flicking back and forth behind her at a maddened rate, D'aijeen gripped her shoulders and pulled them inward, making her appear even more impossibly thin. She hissed with almost inaudible disdain, "She can't do anything. She doesn't want to. She doesn't want to! I'm not... discussing this." She didn't trust K'airos. If she were permitted to return to her mother, then she would leave. It was the only thing left that could be taken from her, and every time her mother got involved she lost something.


She recoiled away from the fire, on her feet and backpedaling away. "I said no. I said no, I said no. I said..." D'aijeen shook her head, and spun, the world around her blurring into an incoherent plain and identical horizons. Her eyes shook. Her arms felt numb. She stepped in something cold and heavy, something that clung to her and writhed in her shadow, but she didn't look at it. "I'm going to go swimming. I'm going to go for a swim."


D'aijeen spun and ran, but not towards the sea. She ran inland. She didn't even notice.


With her ears dropping and her tail curving down between her legs, K'airos watched her sister run away. It took her a brief moment before she herself noticed that the direction was wrong. Her memories stirred, and something in her head reminded her of one time when D'aijeen had left to think, to be alone, and then was never seen again, back when they were both part of a tribe. 


She panicked.


"Wait!" she shouted, jumping forward to chase D'aijeen, leaving behind their dinner. "Come back! I won't...I won't see mom anymore, alright? I'm sorry! I won't see her! I promise! We'll even go far away from her! And the sea is this way, too! Come back!"


D'aijeen hadn't bathed yet, so she could still feel blood on her skin. She thought she must smell like D'ahl and the voidsent that had killed her. She imagined the Skulls of the Scavengers stalking her in the shadows, waiting for her to get angry again, waiting for her to get upset and lose control and stomp and growl. And at the slightest show of aggression on her part, it would rip out of the shadows and destroy whatever she was angry at before she could take it back. And then no amount of begging would make it stop. Just like what it had done with D'ahl.


Her thin legs weakening, D'aijeen stumbled. Something seemed to catch on her feet, like she was stumbling over stones, but she had no clear sense of it. Green dots appeared in front of her eyes as nausea turned her stomach, as iron shot into her veins. Her tail bristled out behind her, her eyes widened, and she spun to face her sister without stopped. She fell backwards, landing prone, feeling like she'd slammed down on something hard but the pain was distant. Something beneath her, cold and oil, pushed her upright. She felt it on her skin, not her clothes, and it almost seemed to push outward from inside her body.


The shadows clung to her like ichor, staining her flesh and leaving her clothes immaculate. Darkness poured from her back as she faced the sun, pulled beneath her, writhing. There were faces and pale, muted lights meters beneath the ground she stood upon, somehow visible as if the ground was transparent. D'aijeen had no concept of these things, more for the purple flecks in the whites of her eyes, the subtle glow deep in her pupils.


Faster than she'd ran away, the thin, tiny woman who smelled like death ran back to her sister and threw herself upon Airos, clinging to her. "I'm scared." She admitted to this like a crime. "I don't want you to die. I love you. I don't want you to. I love you."


K'airos had paused in her run. At first she had just frowned in confusion as to how her sister had fallen and raised so strangely, but then she jumped in place, bringing both hands to cover her mouth as the increasingly terrifying sight before her unfolded. She did not have time to think of any of this before she found herself hugging D'aijeen with all her strenght. Her eyes stared into the abyss below them, and then they were closed shut by her own fear. She pulled her sister as close as she could.


More memories were shaken. Her sister had created a monster once, many years ago. A creature made of shadows and bones, covered in dark. A beast that D'aijeen couldn't control back then, that had tried to hurt those on the way of its scape into the desert. 

The fear of what her sister had awoken back then kindled again, pulling her away from those times towards the present. To just what seemed like a moment ago, when she had seen her sister on the docks, broken and crying. To her words about D'hal's death. To how she had calmed herself. And then she was pushed closer until they were no memories any longer. 


K'airos opened her eyes, moving them from the abyss to her sister, one hand moved to her chin and pushing up so that they were facing each other. "We'll solve this." K'airos said almost whispering, a collection of tears preparing to burst out of her eyes. She took a breath. Her eyes closed. "I love you too." Her tears came out, and then her lips laid against D'aijeen's.


Her ears and tail falling still, D'aijeen melted into her sister. Her thin muscles loosened, her body going weak. She leaned into K'airos and clung to ehr with her hands, closed her eyes and barely even remembered to kiss the woman back. The weight of her body seemed to flee from her, all cold replaced with warmth, all of the shadows beneath them flattening and going still. D'aijeen's senses were full of K'airos, touch and smell and taste. She could feel her sisters teardrops on her face, but they might as well have been her own, for as much as she wanted to cry as well. The fast recoil from terror to this, whatever this feeling was, this strange shock of elation and realization, left her dazed like a blow to the head.


Something twisted elsewhere, some emotion and sensation far removed from her. It was as if she had some foreign stomach miles away that was suddenly struck with incredible illness, something that poured out into another person's body. Not her own, but sensed, known.


And dismissed. It was so far away, and she didn't want it. This was perfect. This was what she wanted. K'airos had pledged herself to her and then, unbidden, shown exactly the affection she had wanted. What she needed. D'aijeen was being pulled by her sister across the threshold of a home she'd never been to before, but she wanted to live there forever. It was fragrant and peaceful, comfortable beyond reason. She would live in this home, this sensation and moment, for as long as she could cling to it.


There was a knot in K'airos' stomach. And in her chest, and throat. Their kiss lasted too long. She would have cut it short just one moment after it was given, but her head was unwilling to move, fearful. She mantained the kiss as she waited to stop being scared. The fear dwindled, but didn't leave. She tried to think, to distract herself, but couldn't. Then she concentrated on what she was doing. The knots inside her tightened and pulled as she felt her sister's warmth and smell closer than it had ever been. She kept crying, her ears dropping as low as they could.


At least it was not fear.


She opened her eyes, and she saw that the frightening sight that had manifested around Aijeen had vanished. She pulled herself away, but kept close, one arm still wrapped around her sister, and the other hand still placed on her chin. She had trouble breathing, but knew she should say something. "I love you." she repeated with a thin smile. The words came out of her mouth weakly, the knot on her stomach pulling her senses again. They weren't words she wouldn't have said, but they came with a different taste in this occassion. K'airos didn't like them, but she had to say them, she thought. Endure them, like one endures bitter medicine.

Her head pulled back, closing her eyes, facing the sky. "We'll be happy again, okay? Let's go have dinner and then we can...remake our plans the way you want them to be. Okay?"


"Yes, it's okay." She said this with all the zealousness of a drowning woman reaching for a lifeline. Holding herself desperately against her sister, she nodded emphatically, feeling herself continuing to cry, but smiling wide. They could go anywhere, together, just like she wanted. D'aijeen could finally leave everything behind and take K'airos with her, and it was completely by choice. Her sister knew everything, saw all of it just as it was, and completely of her own will choose D'aijeen. "It's okay. It's okay. I'll be happy for you." She turned her face up to her sister and smiled, showing K'airos the expression. "I'm happy. Airos, brilliant Airos, center of my sky. I can be happy for you as long as you shine for me."

Link to comment

D'aijeen insisted on going to Vesper Bay to find accommodations, because she still had her heart set on a day at the beach with K'airos. Though she did not say so, it was also because it was further away from Ul'dah and everything that was there, even if very slightly, and that made her feel better. D'aijeen insisted on a small room with a single bed for them to share, because of frugality. Though she did not say so, it was also because she had plans concerning K'airos in bed, either with her sister's enthusiastic cooperation or with more convincing later, while they were falling asleep. D'aijeen insisted on bathing together, because she wanted to make sure K'airos had been taking care of herself and because D'aijeen wanted help washing her back. This was also because she wanted to press her sister for further intimacy, trying to get as much skin contact as possible, eager to feel and taste the woman's body.


Perhaps she was too eager. K'airos claimed that the seafood had made her ill, and so D'aijeen ceased her advances. The fish they'd eaten had been well outside of the diet that D'aijeen had designed for her sister's fragile constitution, and she was not sure K'airos had been sticking to the diet prior to that. It could be a real problem! So D'aijeen, dripping wet but clean, ears flat on green hair that stuck close to her scalp, had pulled away from her physical advances, wrapped a towel around herself, and administered a displacement test to check her sister's mass.


After the bath she insisted on K'airos wearing the white clothes again, her pants, shirt and frock, plus the ribbon. She leveraged K'airos illness against her, saying she could not sleep in her armor and that she needed to sleep in something warm, and that D'aijeen's clothes were warmest. This was not true, but K'airos was adorable in the ill-fitting clothes.


Now, with the bath behind them and the moon half-visible through the window, D'aijeen lay in bed watching her sister fall asleep. D'aijeen lay motionless and quiet, curled up a few yalms away from the woman. But her eyes were wide open, bright blow in her dark face, as she watched her sister's pristine features. She'd spent a lot of time watching her sister sleep over the years. She'd been this close before, memorizing her slack face, her parted lips, the slow movement of her body as she breathed, the hypnic jerks as the woman began to fall asleep. D'aijeen had even touched her sister late at night, in ways that she wouldn't approve of.


But this was different. This time K'airos would approve. This time D'aijeen's chest was tense, because she would go further this time, and K'airos would awaken and move with her, touching her back. D'aijeen was already undressed under the covers, and she knew her clothes on K'airos' body would come off so smoothly, so easily, without stirring her. D'aijeen just needed to wait until K'airos was very asleep, dreaming, still, so that she could move more boldly, so that her sister would be well into her love before she even awoke. And so D'aijeen lay and watched, waiting. The tightness in her chest notwithstanding, she was calm. There was nothing to fear with K'airos. There was no fear of rejection. D'aijeen was able to relax, and let her eyes slide half-closed, her lips smile, and enjoy watching her sister.


D'aijeen let herself ease forward and listen to her sister breathe. She tried to match the pace of her breath. She lay her tail over her sister's tail, and tried to breathe with her, to make their breath one. It was relaxing. Her sister was warm, but she waited to draw herself close. She silently whispered for her sister to fall asleep, more asleep, to be so deeply asleep. D'aijeen was patient. Her green ear twitched, her earring clattering softly. She was patient, and she relaxed, and she matched her breath to her sister's breath and watched her sister's lips. And she closed her eyes.


D'aijeen did eventually pull close to her sister, but she was asleep when she did so. It was not an inappropriate touch, but a little sister pulling herself to her older sibling for warmth. D'aijeen pressed her forward against K'airos' shoulder and curled her legs up beneath her, wrapping her arms around her sister's arm. Their breaths were, different, both slow. D'aijeen was asleep. She was very deeply asleep.


And then she snapped upright, startled awake by soemthing unseen. D'aijeen's ears both shot up from her head. her earring clattered, and she flinched away from it as though something were sneaking up behind her. Her eyes were wide, tail flicking around at double its normal width. Suddenly she was breathing quickly, but wordless. Her hands flat against the ma tress, one of them pressing down hard on k'airos' ear, she cast her gaze about one way and then the other, confused and seemingly in a panic.


Whatever it was that K'airos was dreaming at the time was interrupted by the sensation of a sudden huge weight on the side of her head that, forceful, made her sink on the floor. She woke up, hurling her head and half her torso away, backwards. She yelled something with a tired voice, a complain about wanting to sleep some more. She took the time to rub her eyes with one hand before opening them enough to notice her sister's head frenetic movements.


"D'aijeen, are you awake?" she asked, though her voice was coarse. She still felt tired, but her eyes were properly open. Her arms pushed her up until she was sitting, crossing her legs over each other. She poked her sister with an open palm. "Are you awake?" she asked again.


D'aijeen's blue eyes snapped to her sister, going wide. Her ears popped up, then slammed down, expression stiff. She flinched when her sister spoke, and when K'airos touched her she pulled away, kicking herself off the bed and crying out in alarm. When she hit the ground, she tried very clumsily to get to her feet, but she couldn't manage it. Her curled fists and clumsy steps could only manage to drag her a few fulms away while, as she huffed and whined and a wordless panic. Her shaking gaze kept flicking to K'airos and then away from her, as though she couldn't bare to look.


Upon her sister's panic, K'airos threw a glance behind her. And up, and down. Everywhere. She wondered if the monstrosity she had seen before in D'aijeen's shadow was the cause of her fear. But that wasn't it, thankfully.


She quickly crawled over the edge of the bed and then out of it, saying "Wake up! It's me! You are having a nightmare!" She crouched over her, unsure on what to do besides taking a firm hold of her arms, pinning her down so she couldn't run out of the room into town without any clothes on. That was another cause of alarm for K'airos, but she let it slid off her mind.


Groaning and huffing in panic, D'aijeen struggled to try and get away from her sister. But her movements were clumsy and weak, legs kicking uselessly behind her, arms pressing against her sister as though she'd never used them before. It was evident that she was trying to get away from K'airos, but her gaze also snapped to the room around her, searching the walls and ceilings. Her gaze eventually settled on the window, and on the moon hanging there, and there they stayed. The longer her struggles remained useless, the less she fought, though her unwillingness to look at her sister remained. Finally, she lay still, staring at the window, ears flat on her head and face twisted in displeasure.


Seeing her calming down, K'airos slowly let her sister free. She stood up, walking backwards over the bed, ready to jump at D'aijeen in case she suddenly found strenght to run. With one energic move, K'airos removed the bedsheet and hurried to cover her with it. She didn't hold her or said anything this time. Instead, she chose to stay away from her field of view. But she remained close, sitting on the floor with her head resting on both hands. Waiting.


D'aijeen didn't react to the blanket violently. It was still warm from when she and K'airos had been cuddling, and all she did was clumsily toss an arm over her head to keep it out of her face. In a slow process, ignoring K'airos and her surroundings, D'aijeen moved her clumsy limbs into a sitting position. It was a strange, crooked pose, with both her legs stretched out to one side and one knee folded, supporting herself with her hands, but it was stable enough. She sat like this and looked at the window in silence. After a time, she began to cry, even though she didn't show any sign of noticing this herself.


K'airos couldn't remain sitting for long. She watched D'aijeen's back for a while. Then she stopped watching her to look at the moon that enthralled her so much. Another moment and she was on her feet, walking in a straight line to one side, then the other, always behind her sister. Her mind was busy worrying all over the situation. There had always been problems with D'aijeen sleepwalking and dreaming with the eyes open, but she couldn't remember when had been the last time that her young sibling had shown such terror. At worst it had been inconvenient situations. Normal, in a way. But this one had nothing of that. 


She stopped, head turning to D'aijeen again. Her eyes slipped down to look at her shadow. Then she started walking again, this time with her arms crossed. She waited again.


It might've seemed like a long time to K'airos. D'aijeen continued to cry without feeling it or responding to it, her tears running down her cheeks and dripping from her chin, dappling the blanket beneath her. She sat in silence, looking out the window for maybe twenty minutes before she very solemnly and silently stood. She ignored the blanket, her tail limp, her ears relaxed, expression impassive. She seemed to be out of tears. With small, simple steps, she walked back to the bed and lay herself down in it. She rolled so that her back was to K'airos and curled herself up into a ball, knees to her chest, tail laying over her ankles. Asleep again.


When her sister finally stood up, K'airos' ears stood straight up, her tail and legs remained still and her breathing stopped until D'aijeen was on the bed. She didn't know what to make of the scene. She took the blanket and covered her. She remained awake for some time, walking in silent, small circles in the middle of the room. She had to think about how to deal with her sister's emotions. How to keep her happy so that no voidsent would come out of her shadows. She fiddled with her fingers, then her hair. She thought for a while. 


Then her mother came back to memory. She turned around and made another circle in the opposite direction. No, she would not see her. Or speak with her. But she had to tell her something. Dissapearing and ignoring her without explanation, though she wasn't sure if she could do such a thing, was cruel. Too cruel. D'aijeen could be like that to their own mother, but K'airos couldn't. She had to tell her.


Hurrying, K'airos tidied her clothes very briefly. Since she was wearing D'aijeen's clothes already, she looked aroudn the room and eventually remembered where she had left the hat. With it adorning her head, she headed to the door and opened it as quietly as she could. She had to write and send a letter. She hoped D'aijeen wouldn't wake before she returned.

Link to comment

* * *


D'aijen controlled herself. She was not immune to K'airos' non-verbal communication. She was actually quit in-touch with it, and as much as she meant to be more in-touch with her sister, upsetting K'airos was never one of D'aijeen's goals. No, as young as D'aijeen was, she liked to think of herself as mature and patient, and so she chose to allow the status quo to linger for a time before trying to push things again.


This amount of time was a single day.


D'aijeen rose early and left K'airos asleep that morning. When she returned, she had changed. Where and how she found the resources to do so were credited to the talents of procurement she had learned from the Dodos. The change itself was credit to arts she had learned from the Dodos, but there was a measure of instinct in it as well. Not that D'aijeen would ever admit that seduction was an instinct of hers, but she was not so idealistic to think that there was such a being as one born without instincts to attempt seduction. And have at least a general idea of what it looked like.


She thought she would be good at it. She was trying to seduce her sister, after all, and how hard could that be?


The white leather her shoes were made out of was immaculate, and carefully polished. Her legs, completely exposed up to the hem of the short skirt, were also immaculate, though incredibly thin. D'ahl had said she had possessed a rare and slight beauty; svelteness, she had called it. The dress D'aijeen had chosen was red with powerful white lace and frills everywhere. The black accents barely registered with all the white, except for black collar, from which hung a gem in the shape of a red heart. She'd been happily pulling on the collar ever since she put it on, playing at the feeling of choking herself.


The only green left on her, besides her hair and tail, was the cactuar earring swinging about beside her head.


She slipped into the room she'd left K'airos in, shut the door behind her and locked it. Then she walked over to the bed where she'd left K'airos still sleeping and clambered right in, sitting directly on her sister's hips with one leg on either side of her chest. She lay her tail out along K'airos' legs and bent forward. Her only verbal warning was, "Wake up, beloved!" before kissing K'airos's face.


K'airos reacted as she always did when awakening in the morning: by extending her arms upwards, stretching them, curling her hands into fists and letting out a short lamented groan that was universally understood as "Please let me sleep three more minutes" in any language. 

Sadly for her, this meant that when the kiss arrived her arms were about to collapse around her sister's neck. Luckily for her, the kiss was unexpected and alarming enough to make her arms fall to the sides immediately.


"What...!" she mumbled, eyes wide. Her limbs flexed under her sister and then she was closer to the pillows, with her back over them. That single day had left K'airos unprepared for her sister's advances. In retrospect, she should have seen that coming. 


"What's going on? Are you... we late for something?" she wondered out loud, moving rebelious locks of red hair out of her eyes.


"No!" D'aijeen kept her smile on her face, hopping forward to keep her sister beneath her. "Actually I was hoping we could just take a me-and-you day and spend it together. Right here." She lifted herself upright and smiled down at her sister. "Look, I got new clothes. I wanted to wear something special for you. Help you see me differently. Do you like it?"


K'airos pushed herself further, until her back was parallel to the headboard. When she couldn't retreat anymore, she pulled the blanket closer to herself with both hands and looked at an indetermiante point in D'aijeen's shoulder.


"It looks fine, but I can't fully appreciate it if you are so close! You should get out of bed and...stand there. Somewhere." was her tenous reply.


D'aijeen shook her head. "No, that's not the point. It has pleasant colors and full access. See?" She pulled the skirt up her bare legs a bit for a moment then pushed herself forward to pin K'airos in place. "It's something I can wear for you, so that I can display myself to you. Because I'm all yours from now on, remember? And you can touch me whenever you want. Like right now."


K'airos did not see, her eyes naturally averted from her sister. "I don't like full access." she mumbled, a knot formed on her throat and forcing the words out.


"Breakfast!" she said loudly, almost yelling, her head still turned away. She quickly corrected her tone into something more diplomatic and tried to smile. "We should talk about this during...after breakfast! I can't think of these things with an empty stomach. And I'd have a terrible breath if I don't eat anything!"


"Oh, I don't care about your breath." The green-haired girl who smelled of corpses lost her smile and wrapped her arms around her sister. "Being in love is an all-the-time-thing, not just when you have good breath. And you should need me more than you need food. Like I need you more than anything. K'airos, don't you love me?"


Her hands clenched D'aijeen's arms. It wasn't a particularly loving gesture, nor a forceful one. Even if she was ready to push her away at any moment. She couldn't retreat any further, so she ended up meeting her eyes. For a short moment, K'airos leveled a severe frown, becoming a very serious sister.


"Yes, but that doesn't mean I want to...or that you want to...or that we have to! Because I don't think that's a requisite for love between sisters."


Leaning her shoulders back and her head forward, pushing out her lower lip and averting her eyes, D'aijeen muttered, "But if you love me why are you pulling away?" as though she had missed half of what her sister said. Her ears lay down on her head. "Why are you pulling away and looking away and talking like you don't want me close to you?"


"Because I don't think that's something sisters should do." K'airos said slowly, overthinking over each word and then just letting them go out anyway. Her grip loosened and for a second wondered if she should add something. She chose not to, however.


D'aijeen's voice dipped suddenly, grating, and her tail shivered. "You're talking to me like I'm an infant. Like I've never head all of this before." She lifted her head and turned her gaze straight at K'airos, eyes wide, lips a straight line. "You think I don't know what you're talking about? Rules and taboos are fences. They're cages. They're chains. Stop thinking and feel. You have no idea." He leaned forward again, pressing her face towards her sister's face. "You have no idea how much I feel. How deeply I feel. Sometimes I think I'm the only person in the world who feels anything at all. But I thought you must. You always loved me like I thought I wanted to be loved. I thought. I thought you did."


"I think how I think because that's what I feel!" K'airos protested with a pout. But then her arms moved around her sister, hugging her. Her tone lowered after a sigh. "It's okay. You are just trying to deal with D'ahl's..." She paused, rubbing D'aijeen's back. "You'll get better! I've been always with you. I'll still be! But don't ask me to...do that. You are my sister, and I still love you! But I don't like...you know." Her words were followed by some vague gesturing behind her sister.  "We can do other things!" she finished, doing her best to sound cheerful.


"I loved you a long, long time before I ever met D'ahl. And I always loved you more than her." D'aijeen pulled herself close to her sister, lay her head alongside her sister's head. This was not a sisterly hug, though. She clung to K'airos body. "You know I could just command you to touch me. You know I could do that, right? But I have faith that you do love me. There are chains stopping you from loving me like you should, and it would hurt you if I forced you to break them like that."


"I kno- wait...Command me?" K'airos sounded confused. The knot on her throat had moved, multiplied, and settled all over her stomach and chest. She grimaced and pushed D'aijeen away slowly. "I don't like this conversation! Let's have breakfast instead and look for Shelly. I think I lost her when we got into town."


"No." D'aijeen gripped K'airo's sides with her exposed legs, grabbed the woman's shirt with her fingers. She kept her gaze locked on K'airos' eyes. "You kissed me once. You already divested yourself of so many of those chains. Remember that? Kiss me again, K'airos, the sun of my sky. Kiss me now."


Her eyes dropped to the blanket. The protest that came after her sister was done speaking was loud. "No! I never asked you to do things you didn't want to do. I don't want to kiss you now, so I won't! Stop pushing!" As she spoke, she kept increasing the strenght of her push, trying to get D'aijeen off her. "Please, stop!" she begged.


The harder K'airos pushed, the tighter D'aijeen gripped her sisters shirt. But she was so much weaker than her sister was, and seemed to be getting even weaker the more time passed. "Why are you doing this? I thought that you'd chosen to... I thought... Please don't be like this." She ducked her head forward and felt her fingers buckling. Her shoulders shook. "I don't want this to happen with you. Not you, too. Please." Nausea rushed over her and she bent against it, going from weak to powerless in an instant. She let go of K'airos and fell backwards off of her, red dress and white frills splashing about her. The cactuar earring clattered beside her head. "Why is this happening?"


K'airos hung her legs off the side of the bed, ready to get up. She glanced worryingly at her sister, understanding quickly what was happening. The knots went nowhere, and were now joined by a distinct fear. "I'm still here! We can...I just need...! Don't summon that thing!" she said, reaching for her sister's hands, grasping them between hers. "I'm still here, with you!"


D'aijeen lay still until K'airos touched her hand, and then D'aijeen gripped her sister's fingers and pulled herself up by them. With desperate speed, D'aijeen was on her feet and in front of her sister again, pushing herself against the other woman. "Please, I need you to try! I know you love me. I know you do! I could feel it when you kissed me, that you really did! So please try."


K'airos didn't even have time to think how to answer to that when the door was knocked energically. There was a very short pause and then the knocks came back, fainter, but not by much. She took the opportunity and answered with a loud "Who is it?" She even turned her head towards the door.


"Hello! I'm Qion'a from Gridania and I'm looking for D'aijeen Thalen." the door answered. Or, rather, the man behind it did. "We need her expertise on a magical matter. Is she around?"

Link to comment

Her entire body tensing suddenly, D'aijeen seethed with undefined frustration. She felt the desperate need to continue pulling on K'airos, but she wanted to slap her for the cowardly distraction she'd latched on to. The way her name slipped through the door drew neither curiosity nor anger, but the voice and its sudden interjection breathed a threat into her presence. This was not something that should have been possible. It was not something that could be permitted to happen. Her attention needed to be completely on K'airos, and yet this inexplicable event called to her. As though it were made beforehand, a trap that had been set, a distraction called done for just this moment.


The fragmented shards of frustration coalesced into a theory, and D'aijeen's frustration drew cold. Her shadow darkened. He turned her gaze away from K'airos and leaned her head down, so that her features were in shadow. The cactuar earring swung against her temple. Her exposed legs felt very thin and cold and not at all desirable. She shivered, suddenly frail, assured of her hideousness, assured that she was hated. Sap ran through her veins, and she did not feel loved. Something was pushing very hard upon her.


"K'airos." Her hand moved up and gripped the collar of her sister's shirt. "Beautiful K'airos, perfect to me, everything that I could ever desire given breath and body. Do not speak to anyone except me now. K'airos, love. Beloved. Ideal lover. Nobody knows that I am here. Who did you tell that I was here? Who did you tell? I command you to answer me. Who did you tell about me being here, K'airos?"


"I...sent a letter to mom." K'airos replied immediately, eyes wide with surprise at her own words. Her hands pushed against her mouth, hoping that the words would somehow be unheard. "But I told her no to come! I was clear about it! Very clear!"


"I'm afraid that's not how I found you. I just followed you from Ul'dah." the man outside added with a chuckle, as if he was hearing. "I mean no harm! I just want to speak to you about a certain project you left in the Shroud a few years ago. It was quite impressive and we'd like to learn more!"


When K'airos answered her, D'aijeen buckled. Her ears fell. her tail swung between her legs and wrapped tight about one thigh. Her fingers tightened and twisted on K'airos chest, and she appeared that she might fall forward. The sound she made was shrill and loud, like a wounded animal, like she wished she had claws. The small woman shivered as if cold, as if terrified. Her screeching lengthened and deepened, it broke and began to cough out of her throat. She sounded like she was choking, and the shivering became a shake. Then the sound became a snicker, and she leaned back to laugh. D'aijeen looked at the ceiling and laughed quietly. Her shadow darkened until her white shoes turned black, and she laughed louder, and she appeared saddened by something she saw on the ceiling. High in the corners of the walls, something white moved inside the blackness. The room seemed darker as D'aijeen watched the ceiling and cried, as she shook and laughed and pulled on K'airos' shirt.


Her arms went limp and fell to her side. Her tail went limp and hung behind her. Her jaw went limp and her mouth hung open. Shadows poured down her chest as though cast by a light above her, though there was no such light. D'aijeen didn't breathe. Her ears lifted. The cactuar earring danced with a metallic clatter.


When she lifted her head and breathed again, the shadow lingered on her chest. It was black as an ink stain over the white frills she'd decorated herself in. Darkness crawled up her legs from the shadow she cast, like tendrils. The shadows against the ceiling leaked down the walls like water.


D'aijeen sighed.


"Nobody followed me her from Ul'dah." She lifted one hand and lay her knuckles against her sister's cheek. "I was not followed. So there, we are already lying."


K'airos recoiled in terror, mumbling. "No...no! Please don't! Please don't! I'll...! Don't!" she begged, jumping in place, her voice shaking and her breath becoming unsteady.


The man outside spoke again. "Sorry, but I did. The mail doesn't travel as quick as you think it does. But that doesn't matter." A wind came from the door, leaking from the crevices in the wood and the tiny space between it and the frame. It carried his voice towards the green-haired Miqo'te and only to her. "I'm here to talk about the man you raised in the Shroud. Tanned skin, red hair, sunny disposition, hated by the Elementals?" His voice sounde all around her, as if the man was inside the room, walking around her.


"K'airos, it's okay." D'aijeen patted her sister's face with the back of her hand. "I promise that I will never hurt you. You will never need to be afraid of me."


Then she spun around in a violent snap. "I raised no one in the Shroud! The spell failed!" In one hand, a stick appeared, with small carvings and rodent skulls held to it by leather ties. They clattered loudly as she swung her arm towards the door, and a powerful rush of air dispersed the voice around her before slamming into the door and ripping it open and throwing it off its hinges, slamming it against the opposite wall. This was obviously intended to hurt whomever was outside.


"Then how do I know about him? " The man walked into view, having been standing to a side of the door rather than actually in front of it. He was wearing red robes and wore a hood over his head. In his right hand, he was holding a very weak looking branch, with dried leaves sticking out of it, ready to fall at any moment. 


He spread his arms and bent slightly, trying to convey that he wasn't there to fight, glancing at the floor with his golden eyes. "Please! I came to talk! To share knowledge and learn from what you did. I can lead you to him, if you want. He's not even far! Just...forgetful."


K'airos, despite D'aijeens words, was very afraid. She curled down next to the bed, grabbing her head with both hands and burying it behind her knees.


The shadows in the room spread as though the walls contained ink and had cracked open, allowing the ink to slowly leak out. It bleed up her legs and down from her lips, spreading over her skin and her clothes. Inside of the shadows beneath her and the shadows on the wall, white things moved, polished surfaces. Masks. Looking out at them, but with disinterest.


D'aijeen growled at the man, a deep and silent sound that was almost just a groan in her thin chest. "I left him buried and warded. If you did something to him, I'll kill you. That's the only warning you'll ever hear."


Qion'a kept his submissive pose. The only change was that he raised his head to look at D'aijeen. He had a slight frown over his forehead, but spoke neutrally and carefully. "We didn't know about him until very recently. He said he unburied himself, with the help of a local. He's quite alive, I assure you. Just let me show you, and you can decide if you wish to kill me or not afterwards."


"You think I'm an idiot!" D'aijeen took a step back the other way, shadows snapping free from her feet and reaching after as though desperate to keep hold. The shadows she cast lingered without source she moved. She thrust her wand and fetishes forward, and then pulled them back aggressively. The wind she'd thrown forward seemed to rush back into the room in response, slamming against the back of Qion'a's legs in an attempt to knock him off his feet. "You did not follow me from Ul'dah! You're a liar! You come lying and speaking of things you cannot know. Liar. Confess to me desperately. Eject the truth like a poison from your belly, else I'll extract it."


The wind pushed against Qion'a's defensive wards, making them crack like ice under a heavy weight. His back was lighted in a dim blue light as the aetheric lines of the spell unfolded and became visible behind him. He took a step back and straightened.


"Not lying! I'm just a good tracker." he said while he took yet another few steps backwards. "But I get it! I will leave! Give you time  to hide somewhere else, to keep a tight leash on your sister, make sure you are not followed and that nobody knows where you went." 


He raised his branch, the dry leaves on it shining as if they were about to be set aflame. Right then he smiled. "Then I will show up again and you'll have to believe me when I say I was just following you."


"No. You can stay." The shadows that wrapped D'aijeen cracked like glass and shattered outward, growing and becoming solid, and rushing forward in the speed of a blink to slam into the man physically. The spell was larger than her intended target. Shadows with polished faces cracked the floor and slammed into the walls, breaking the doorframe and making the walls buckle. Shouts could be heard from elsewhere in the building.


K'airos was still curled down behind the bed, trying to shrink away. She shrieked when she felt the spell smashing the walls. "Stop! Stop! Please, stop!" she repeated in whispers between breaths, unable to speak any louder.


The man barely had time to reinforce his wards before being thrown out of the room, hitting his back with the wall outside and falling towards the floor. His knee managed to meet it first, saving him half the trouble of raising up. He turned to the hallway and started to sprint away.


D'aijeen ran out into the hallway, the attack she'd cast already melting away into dark fluid staining the broken room around her, staining her clothes, staining her skin. Its putrid scent curled in the air around her as she turned to watch the man's back. "No!" Now she had a bladed scepter in her hand as well, and her with her stance spread across the width of the hall, she crossed the two focuses in front of her. The bones tied to her wand clattered. Her clothes rustled as the air about her moved with the energy of her spell.


When she snapped her arms to either side, the floor beneath her broke and shot forward. A chill wind shot from her form and wrapped about the summoned stone. Earth and ice shot at the man, a two-fold attack meant to stop him in his tracks.


The man jumped and turned around in the air, swinging his focus violently to the side. "Victor!" he shouted right before the spell hit him fully in the middle of his leap, the ice and stone wrapping around him, binding his  feet to the ground.


The wall he had swung his branch towards darkened. A portion of it collapsed into itself like moving sand. A grey snake-like creature, horned, roughly the size of a man but much thinner, emerged from it. It bashed itself against the opposite wall and turned towards D'aijeen, clawing and twisting its way across the hallway before spreading its wings and trying to violently ram the woman.


D'aijeen felt weak. Her feeble body seemed suddenly overstrained, first from struggling with K'airos, then from the use of magic. Just running from the bedroom to the hallway felt like it had been too far, and her head ducked forward as soon as the stone and the ice snapped away from her. She didn't see it hit her target, nor did she see the monster he summoned. Her eyes were on the ground, but she looked up just in time for the head-first charge of the stranger's voidsent.


The beast slammed against the air directly in front of her head. There was a flicker of light, and a haze of green magic lay between her face and that of the monster, like impenetrable colored glass between them. Through pits in the green shell, D'aijeen's eyes glared into those of the monster, mere centimeters separating them. She barely saw or heard it, but she felt what the creature was, and she hissed at it on instinct. "Obey me. Kill that man gently. Go."


In the next instant, the monster snapped backwards as though struck, falling on its back as shadows rushed out beneath it. It splashed down among the white masks of the Baalzephons, but they caught it gently and lifted it up, turning it around, and in a moment, the beast was careening back the way it had come, towards the stranger, Qion'a.

Link to comment

The beast spread its claws forward, opening its beak to screech, lunging towards him. The man had unbound  himself fro the ice and stones. His arms were pointing forward, aether gathering around them in a growing golden sphere. It collapsed silently just a moment after, making the floor and the walls a meter in front of him burst inwards, smashing the voidsent between the moving debris. He did not wait to see the result of his spell. Instead, he turned around and ran.


D'aijeen leaned forward and stumbled, pushing herself off the ground with her fingertips. As she moved, her shadow extended, spelling far ahead of her like a flood that poured from the building onto the road outside. She couldn't keep up, and she ceased trying, letting hersef fall to her knees and scraping them on the rubble strewn through the building. Chasing the man wasn't necessary. The Baalzephons would act on her behalf. This knowledge came to her as something remembered, as though she'd read it from a book some time ago and only just now thought of it. She was sure, though. They would get him. But would they bring him back?


"K'airos!" Dropping back on her haunches, watching the shadows stretching outside, D'aijeen shouted behind her. "Get him! Chase him down, I command it! Drag him back here!"


tattered forms lifted from the dark splotches in the ground, sliding forward faster than any being could think to run, pushing the wind aside as though it were a lazy thing. White masks set in dark matter like pillars of stained rags, they surpasses the fleeing man and arched around him in an attempt to contain him. They neared in an attempt to enclose them. Wire-thin limbs with needle fingers reached for him.


The red robed man had nowhere to run. He cringed at the situation, stopping and raising his tiny branch one last time. His aether released through it to his skin, hardening it, cracks forming upon it like stone.The creatures surrounding him took hold of him strongly, breaking the focus as they reached for arms. He struggled against them, but he was trapped.


K'airos emerged from the room in a hurry, still crying and with the eyes wide open. She stumbled her way towards the man as if drunk. When she reached him, she grabbed him from the shoulders and literally dragged him towards D'aijeen, not waiting for the Baalzephons to release it or follow.


The Baalzephons responded to K'airos' movements by permitting her to move the man. They did not shy away from touching her as they moved, instead holding fast to the man to ensure that he would not begin to move and escape from the woman.


D'aijeen managed to stand as K'airos brought the stranger back into the inn. She was breathing heavily, and her stance was frail. She lifted her head just enough to watch K'airos bring the man in. "Thank you. I'm sorry you had to do that. But I needed your help." She pointed to their room. "Please take him into the room, Airos."


The older sister obeyed, cringing at the touch of the voidsent. "Don't hurt him. He did nothing." she implored lowly, dragging the man to the room. He didn't struggle anymore. She didn't know where to let him go, so she stopped in the middle of the room. She took a moment to wipe her eyes clean with her sleeve. 


The man remained there, frowning at the darkness in silence.


"Did nothing? He came here. He lied. You dond't understand the gravity of the lies he was telling." D'aijeen walked tiredly back into the room, leaning against the tattered doorway. The shadows that had stained the room remained a deep, stubborn black, and the Baalzephons throbbed. The masks among the dark rags twitched. "And I hope you do not, Airos. I hope you never do. Terrible lies that he should never have known to tell. Horrible threats. A wicked man who underestimated me. Leave him there. He will tell me the truth after he sleeps for a time." She stepped forward with the rodent skulls clattering beneath her wand, her pointed scepter not quite shining in the morning light.


K'airos rubbed one of her eyes furiously while she moved towards her sister. She stopped one foot away and glanced up to her briefly before dropping her eyes to her feet. "You lie, too. You lied about mom and the tribe! But I don't care! Let's just leave him here. Please!" he begged again.


"He said he would find us. Didn't you here? He dared us to hide. The fool." She pushed around her sister, walking slowly towards the man and the Baalzephons that now held him in place. Her blue eyes glared down at him, her face otherwise completely black with incredibly dark shadows. "Oh, foolish. Can you hear me, sir? I implore you to go to sleep, sir. It is a kindness, that I would let you sleep, so these next moments hurt less."


Her eyes snapped to the Baalzephons. "Smother him." They responded, laying hideous weight over the man's face, wrapping around his head to suffocate him.


Qion'a's stone skin protected him from the pressure, but he could feel the immediate lack of air. He tried to say something, but only managed a deaf sound. He tried fighting, but it was for naught. After a minute, he simply stopped.


"Stop!" K'airos pulled her sister's hand, hoping in place. Her voice became increasingly broken by cries "Stop! Stop, stop, stop, stop!"


Watching for a moment, D'aijeen's eyes moved to her hand, and the to her sister's panicked features. Beneath her green her, Da'ijeen's skin was painted black, the whites of her eyes a deep gray, her lips and chin barely perceptible. The darkness had stained her clothes, left most of her exposed skin blackened. Still, she lifted one inky hand up to her sisters face, and her eyes curved to indicate that she was smiling. "Oh, Airos, beautiful and innocent. If you want me to stop..." Green light flickered in front of her face, forming like a shield there, a shell that imitate the shape of her face imperfectly and floated just beyond it. "Then you should kiss me. That might improve my mood. It might. You could cheer me up."


K'airos closed her eyes, still hoping. "That's not fair!" she cried out. Then, she pushed herself forward abruptly, not thinking about what she was doing. Her mouth touched her sister's, or perhaps the lips on the aetherial mockery in front of her. She supressed the feeling crawling on her lips, hoping she would feel nothing.


K'airos faced impacted on that of the green shell. D'aijeen did not appear to noticed that there was any difference. She kissed the air between their faces, smiled, and hummed. She turned back to the Baalzephons and said, "Very well. We can be done now. However, it is too late for the health of our deceitful visitor." The Baalzephons that had lain over the man slipped away and vanished into the floor, but they had already finished smothering him. "However, I can fix him right up, if you'll just take him and put him in the bathtub. And then recover a few other items for me."


K'airos nodded and dutifully moved the man as told. 


"What items?" she asked.


"The nice thing about suffocation and drowning is that all of his innards are still in place. However, neural tissues will have been damaged." D'aijeen walked towards the bathroom, watching K'airos, smiling at her. The green shell over her face remained, the blew of her eyes invisible behind it. "Do they have birds around here? They have such tiny brains. But they have useful spines. Maybe two or three good-sized birds."


"Birds. Alright...I'll...get you some birds." she nodded and made her way to the door, arms crossed tightly over her chest. "Two or three."


The shadows lingered. D'aijeen did not acknowledge them. The green shell that had lain over her face faded away, leaving only the blackness of her own features, but she hadn't noticed that either. Instead, as the darkness leaked into the bathroom, D'aijeen put a modest amount of water in the tub -- just enough to make the stranger's limp tail float beside his dead body, and then a pierced her hand with her scepter. K'airos would have asked about these preparations were she present to witness them, so D'aijeen was grateful that there had been a task to assign K'airos to. D'aijeen sat on the edge of the tub with her legs arching over it, her feet resting on the other side, and squeezed blood from the hole in her palm, letting it drop into the tub and discolor the water.


The residents and merchants of Vesper Bay had noticed what had occurred in the inn. The presence of Brass Blades in this particular town was not exactly meager. But D'aijeen did not want them to investigate the inn, and though this desire remained unspoken, the Baalzephons acknowledged it and drifted abroad. In the far darkness of other places, they whispered and clawed. And no Brass Blade or Immortal Flame or curious commoner came to investigate the inn.


They were busy.




K'airos came back to the inn with two small birds. They were trapped inside a bird cage along with the parrot that was originally inside. She had made her way quickly and without being noticed too much, though a few people had shouted warnings at her. Warnings she would have liked to take.


She entered the room with an imploring yell. "D'aijeen! You are hurting people outside! Stop!" She didn't stop until she was inside the bathroom, extending her arm and the cage forward. "I brought the birds."


"I'm not hurting anyone. If people are getting hurt, it isn't me doing it. Why would you blame me, Airos? That's hurtful." D'aijeen hopped off the tub. Moving was easier now that she was rested. She reached out and took the cage from her sister, smiling at the birds within. "Oh, they're very healthy. Thank you for not bringing me anything mauled or sick. These will be very helpful." She spun away and held the cage to her chest, taking her scepter in hand. She conjured a small ice spell inside of the cage, frigid air blowing through it and out over her body. She shivered, but in a few seconds, the birds froze and fell on the bottom of the cage, dead.


K'airos crossed her arms again as if the cold had reached her, too. "Your...those things are hurting them! They are yours. Tell them to stop!" she demanded.


"They're just Voidsent, Airos. They're harmless. Like bees. Scary but harmless." She looked over her shoulder and smiled at her sister. "People will get used to them. Can you please go get your sword so that I can borrow it?"


K'airos turned around and walked away. "They are not harmless. You know this! They killed that man." she spat out, equal measures of fear and fury. She came back a moment later with her scimitar. She ducked her head and offered it to D'aijeen. 


"Tell them to stop and I'll...I'll compensate you later! When we are alone. But they have to stop. Please!"


"Airos, I can't just boss Voidsent around. What do you think I am, some king of witch?" Looking hurt, she took the scimitar, but as she turned to look at her sister, she sighed and softened. "No, Airos. I'm not going to make deals like that. I adore you. Don't worry. Tonight, you're going to be all mine, and it's going to be like breathing the first breath of a new life. Like stepping into a new sun. Like bathing in the sun itself. I have faith in you and I, Airos. It's a faith of always had."


She turned away and set the cage in front of the tub. "But, if you feel so strongly, I will see what I can do to help all of those scared people outside as soon as I am done here. It won't take long."


D'aijeen opened the cage and withdrew one of the birds, laying it against the tub and hacking it in half lenghtwise. She reached into its frozen corpse and took hold of its spine, using the sword to peel the chest and wings and legs away. All she needed was the spine and the head, and associated fluids and nervous tissue.


"Fine." K'airos replied, turning and walking away again. "I don't want to see this. I'm going outside."


"That's fine, Airos. That's fine. I'll only be a few minutes." D'aijeen answered without looking up as she fired a strange, black energy into the hideous offering of avian spine and skull, making the dead eyes glow, making the desecrated backbone writhe. She placed it in the water near the man's head, humming as she turned to start work on the next one.


Minutes later, she sat on the edge of the tub once more, this time on the end above the stranger's feet, with her own feet spread to rest further up on the edge of the tub and balance herself. She leaned forward over a hand-written tome resting across both forearms, having just read aloud from it. The shadows that had been writhing in response to her voice eased back into place like tired things going back to sleep. The black streaks on her body remained, though, making it appear as though swaths of her had been cut away. Her blue eyes seemed to shine out of a pit beneath her hair.


She smiled invisibly. "All right, sir. Do not pretend to sleep any longer. Stop sleeping. Awaken now and take careful breaths. Do be calm, though, for I think you will understand what I have done."


The man opened his eyes, rolling them in place as his sight focused. The first thing that came to mind was the memory of being suffocated to death. Then, strangely, the feeling of being almost or completely wet. He took a breath and looked around. After a moment, he settled his eyes on the woman sitting on the other end of the tub. His hands violently grasped to the sides and pulled half his body up, until he himself was sitting.


"Is...a bath your idea of torture?" he asked, extremely confused.


"You wanted to know more about how I do what I do. Consider this a lesson. As for you, I command you to answer every question I ask thoroughly and honestly." The book in her hands slammed shut. As she leaned forward, she held the book between her legs, pressing down the front of her skirt for the sake of modesty. Her tone was not nearly so frail nor as cute, though her eyes smiled with happiness. She spoke with words of stone. "How did you find me? How did you know to look for me?"


The man smiled. He chose to answer them in the opposite order. "We knew to look for you because a duskwight told us what happened at the Ossuary. I spoke with your mother and got your name from her. Then my brother used it to find you with the Oracle."


He stopped smiling at the last word, looking confusingly at his own hands. But then he smiled again, looking up. "Sorry, I guess, brother!"


Confused by the strangeness of the last thing the man said, D'aijeen nonetheless took in the implications. What occurred between herself and D'ahl outside the Ossuary was known. And that his man had colleagues. D'aijeen's smile did not fade. "I order you to explain this Orcale to me. What is it? How does it work?"


"It's a device used to look almost anywhere in Eorzea, by using the souls of the dead as a conduit for one's consciousness. All we need is a person's name." the red robed man complied. "And... that's how I followed you from Ul'dah, in fact. Can I get out of the tub? I don't like being so damp."


"No." D'aijeen's tail swung behind her, back and forth with more energy than her thin arms and legs could likely permit. "Explain to me entirely, in as much detail as you can, why you came looking for me and what you want from me."


The man took a breath. He really did not like being wet.


 "I found an amnesiac man in the Shroud. Thal." he started. "He survives by absorbing the aether out of...anything, I imagine. Plants and crystals, even. I gave him one and he took all out of it without even blinking! Or...maybe he did blink." He shifted in place, making waves, distracted by the detail. Then he continued. "We tried to study him but his Duskwight friend didn't like that. He was the one who helped him when he woke inside the grave, and the one who pointed us to the Ossuary. We were hoping you could tell us how you did that."


He looked down to himself and gestured vaguely. "Which I guess you just did!"


"In some nonspecific fashion, yes. I've given you a very good hint at least." D'aijeen dropped her feet to either side of the tub and lifted herself off of it, stepping back away and holding the book in front of her, over her chest. Her wand at its small skull fetishes were in one hand, her scepter in the other. "You may get out of the tub now. This is very important: I command that you must never harm nor consider harming me. I command that you must always protect me, and that the same goes for my sister, K'airos." She turned to walk towards the bedroom. "How many brothers have you? Should I worry about them?"


Qion'a nodded, at first. But then he contorted forward violently, screaming with mouth wide open and grabbing his own ears strongly. He tilted his head to one side and hastily pushed the linkpearl out of his left ear. It fell into the tub, blooded. An high pitched sound slipped out of it for the brief moment it was out of the water. The man stopped shouting, but kept his hand over his head and his body bent, complaining in mumbles.

Link to comment
  • Create New...