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Thread: Tidal Changes (Koti~xAshen){M}

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    Default Tidal Changes (Koti~xAshen){M}

    (Rated M for gore, violence, adult language stuff, and alcohol)

    The scarlet songbird pulled slowly up to shore, the seas calm after the long night of the storm. Several crew members hung about the deck, slumped against the railing, save for two of them. The stout Baroc, easily the strongest member of the crew, stood in the center of the deck, rope burns crawling along his skin. One could easily see both the joy and exhaustion from having battled the storm as they ran from the galleons that had chased them. He finally let out a grunt of pain as he allowed the ropes to drop to the deck, the sails unfurling their entire length to flutter carelessly in the breeze.

    “WHOO! We conquer the storm!” Baroc cheered, grunting in pain as he raised his arms in triumph, to only feel a mug bounce off the back of his skull. He turned to look at the direction, a mixed snarl sprouting on his lips before spying who had tossed the mug. Maralynn pulled herself up off the wheel, her face ashen as she kept the grip on the wheel, her knees threatening to give way beneath her. She had been the second to remain upright during the trip through the storm, though was more than ready to drop to her knees. Taking a deep breath, she finally moved towards the bow of the ship, letting the gentle waves echo the misery of her men about her.

    *Ya know, we should have avoided that storm. We knew it would be bad* Caesar whispered to her, the glowing orb twirling around her head in mild agitation. She wanted nothing more than to shove her other half into a glass bead and chuck it into the ocean. He had yet to finish nagging her after they had escaped the storm, and been hounding her since she made a line for the island they now harbored in. Walking around, she began checking who all was still alive, who was dead, and how their supplies fared from the fight and storm.

    “Alright rotworms, lets get things back in order. Anyone still alive, let's figure out what this island holds, and start working on repair. Anyone half dead, get working on getting Scarlet back into shape.” Maralynn spoke, pulling off her hat and dropping it onto the bow, letting the crew know they would be beached for a while. She and Caesar listened as the crew began grumbling and complaining, several still sore from the night.

    “Oi, shove it lads. If ya need to fix your wounds, shove off onto the beach and lick your wounds, then get to work.” Maralynn ordered the crew, stomping her foot to silence the complaints. She herself moved to the beach as Baroc followed her, one of the very few eager to explore the island and check out the wildlife, to either hunt it, or wrestle it. Maralynn brushed her scarlet hair back to help dry it off, wrapping a simple bandana to keep it in place.

    “Baroc, you hunt for food, I’m gonna search for some fresh water. Gamoul, you keep an eye on the ship and make sure people keep working. Scare ‘em straight if they slack off.” Maralynn shouted up to her crows nest, getting a shaky thumbs up from her first mate. With that, the woman finally took in the island before her. Palm trees decorated the land, thin enough to allow the sun to pierce through the leafy foliage, but dense enough that she couldn’t view the entire expanse. The clear waters only bothered her from the reflected sunlight that added to the overall ache in her body, which the chirping birds didn’t help with either. Her eyes scanned the growing mountains that promised a hopefully large game, and she prayed for water among the ground. Looking to Baroc, she nodded to send him off, watching the orc gleefully head into the foliage, his bone hammer swung across his sun black skin.

    *Guess we better get on with it* Caesar reminded her, signalling the two of them to set off, the sun warming her heavily tanned skin. Her gold irises scanned the foliage, combing for both water and threats, and maybe even locals and possibly sources of food. Already she had her hand resting on the hilt of her weapon, Caesar scanning ahead a fair distance ahead as fair warning.


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  2. #2
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    Fortune had graciously blessed that day. The small warrior had cursed his luck when he found himself unable to sleep, but the fruits of his early-morning hunt more than made up for his insomnia. As Kinta looked over his speared buck, he still couldn’t believe his immense luck. The colossal animal had been injured, a broken leg, a fatal injury in the wilderness of Ransei Island. Kinta knelt beside the dead beast, praying in gratitude for this meal. Afterwards, he drew a sharpened blade and tore into flesh and between bone, preparing the breakfast he’d need for his long day.

    A smooth head poked at his side, filling their cave with gleeful laughter. Kinta glanced towards the creature and chuckled softly. “Oh, you have such impatience, Ayo.” His voice was light, high-pitched, soaked in a dialect no one now would recognize. He set his knife down and patted the creature on the head. “You must wait.”

    Ayo made a low noise of disapproval, but the creature slunk away to wait. He was a small thing, about two feet in length uncoiled and weighing all of ten kilograms. His scales were a glimmering lavender, his belly much paler in comparison. He was entirely blind in his pupil-less pale green eyes, but he still managed to find his way into all sorts of trouble, often to the delight or chagrin of his human companion. A wyrm, Kinta thought that was what the creature was, but he didn’t know enough about the creatures in his tribe elder’s old tales to know with any certainty. He had found the creature washed up on the shores of Ransei five years ago now, severely wounded and fighting for his life. Since then, Kinta had taken care of him, or perhaps they had taken control of each other.

    After preparing the meat and setting the fur aside for later, with Ayo’s help, Kinta started a fire in their cave. He set the meat to cook, all the while watching Ayo drool over it. He laughed lightly. “Ayo, you mustn’t—”

    Ayo looked to the mouth of the cave suddenly. Their gilled ears turned towards it, listening for a strange new sound. Kinta rose and peered outside, but they saw nothing unusual in the overgrowth of their forest. “Something is unwell?” the child murmured, to which the wyrm nodded. Kinta took their meal from the fire and tossed sand over the pit, leaving the cave in darkness. They padded towards the entrance of the cave and listened for what had given pause to their companion.

    Footsteps. These were heavy, foreign. Had someone come to Ransei? Kinta was still for a long while, wondering what to do. He thought back to the last visitors he had had, the lakes of red they had left behind. A shiver seized his small body. He grabbed his spear and, cautiously, he started out into the sunlight.

    Kinta walked to the beach, where he saw a large building resting on the water’s surface. It towered over the island, looking all too familiar. There were creatures dotting the sands—were those people? Kinta nearly dropped his spear in surprise. Beside him, Ayo made a small noise of confusion.

    “They look of me, Ayo,” he said, excitement and fear mixing in his voice. “Do you think they speak my tongue?” He watched them for several moments, eye catching on a human much taller than him. She looked like a woman, but the way she talked, the way she dressed; they were all wrong. Head cocked in confusion, Kinta tried to make sense of the scene.

    After several minutes, he realized he could not understand without approaching these strangers. Spear raised, he stepped towards them, keeping his distance still. Within earshot, he spoke to the woman, voice holding more confidence than he had. “Who comes?” he asked, glancing back towards the ship. “What brings you?” He didn’t know what to expect, and absently, he wondered how he looked to this woman. A mere child, sun-kissed skin stained with the colors of the earth, dark hair chopped sloppily by his own knife, clothes holey and dirty. Kinta had never needed to care about presentation, but now, in the company of a human—was she a human?—he didn’t know how he appeared.
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    Maralynn was glad she had been the one going to scout the island. Knowing the crew she had, they may have attacked the child who was now bearing a spear towards her. She didn’t even bother with the sun baked child, eyes drifting to the creature resting by his side. A soft purple creature with blind eyes. Maralynn snapped her fingers twice, a simple signal to her crew to stay back. The momentary halted sounds began again on the ship, knowing that she needed no help. Soft words could do wonders just as well as hardened steel. Affixing an eager smile to her face, she finally approached the child, keeping herself out of harms reach of the child.

    “Thank the seas abound! I thought we had landed on an abandoned island! My crew and I landed here after a troubling storm and rough seas.” Maralynn began, letting relief fill her face as she studied the boy, Caesar following her lead. The glowing green orb spun above the child's head, relaying information back best that he could.

    * He has confidence in that spear, but he’s young. Wary though, for sure* Caesar relayed to her, and Maralynn had to strain not to snort. That kind of information could just be seen how he approached. Maralynn placed her hand on the hilt of her weapon, palm open and draped across the handle to draw if needed.

    “I am sorry if we have disturbed your life here, but we need a place to repair our ships and fill our lauders. Is your village nearby?” Maralynn asked the young boy, voice soft and hopeful. Though the trip may have been rough to start with, she could turn this around. If they were drafting young children, barely even men, it would be easy to take. A village or two to plumber and get fresh cooked food would be grand. Along with a real place to freshen up without having to risk being run out of town just yet.

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  4. #4
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    This strange woman was a curious thing. Kinta took a subconscious step away from her when she spoke. Her words tumbled out of her mouth, emphasizes too short, grammar all wrong, and he struggled to make sense of her rushed syllables. Her words were familiar, though uttered in a completely different dialect. Kinta wondered how they would communicate like this at all. Why had she come here? And why was she staring at him like that?

    His gaze fell to the ocean, to the calm waters that had brought him this woman and her friends. Kinta had seen how the ocean could call, how it could scream and throw its arms wildly. His own tantrums, he was sure, had looked similar when he was a child. He had never learned to swim, so he had only ever dreamed of what was out there on its surface, from beyond what his eyes could see. He knew not of the dangers that were born in the ocean, the rough ways it treated those who dared to traverse its vastness. What storm would bring this woman to him? Though she looked so familiar, he thought this woman seemed kinder than his last visitors. Maybe she could be trusted after all.

    The boy lowered his spear, causing Ayo to chirp warily beside him. "I have no village," Kinta responded evenly. It was the only part of her conversation he felt he had actually understood. "Men who looked like you took that from me many moons ago." Bitterness soaked his voice, but it was not directed at this stranger, nor her friends. Kinta understood these people had not murdered his family. There was no revenge to be had on the innocent.

    He straightened awkwardly as he thought back to the rest of what she'd said. "You.. talk funny," he mumbled. "I do not know of what... what you speak. This island is my home. You are free to use it to... rest, but..." Kinta stopped, and instinctively his hand fluttered to the rope around his neck, to the golden pendant hanging from it. It swirled into a nautilus shell, and narrow symbols were carved into it. Perhaps these people weren't the invaders he had feared. Perhaps they could even help him.

    "You come from out there?" Kinta pointed his spear to the ocean. His bright eyes shone with a new hope. "You must tell me what it is like. I may guide you to the town square, where you can rest, but you must tell me everything you know." He lowered his spear, and a palpable excitement met his steps as he shifted in place. An idea came to mind, and a smile graced his lips as he asked, "Tell me, you can read?"
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    ”So someone has already hit this island? Even worse, it seems they killed the whole lot of them, save the boy. Prolly took the entire town.” Maralynn grumbled internally, studying the boy as he looked towards the sea. She couldn’t help but curse her luck as the boy spoke in bitterness, though she couldn’t help but smile as the boy lowered his spear. Despite the wrym besides him, the slight shift in his body as the memories played across his mind, Maralynn could tell she had an in. The warning chirps from Caesar were put aside as he spoke again, his words grating and grumbling words of his voice, much more pronounced in his words.

    “Yes, I can read. I have been taught many written forms from my youth.” Maralynn began, before pausing again, Caesar replaying the certain conversation that she was trying to gloss over. The boy could just understand her, enough to hold a rudimentary conversation. It already pointed to them having a hard relationship if she had any slight of word plans, or trickery. The second point was that the child had been left long enough alone to know the state of his old village. The chances of anything good being left were slim, but it was worth a shot anyway. Something was better than nothing.

    “I shall tell you all that I can of what comes across the sea. I shall tell you of beautiful mountains, vast plains of flowers, and the cities aplenty.” Maralynn promised the young child, moving closer with a beaming smile, giving a two finger salute to her crew on the boat, a trained symbol to her men.

    “But first, proper introductions are required. My name is Maralynn Lockhert, and this glowing little ball, is my Edo, Caesar Lockhert.” She introduced herself with a polite curtzy. At the mention of his name, Caesar bobbed in place, the orb shimmering brightly for a few seconds in acknowledgement of his own name.

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  6. #6
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    This strange woman was making the child uncomfortable. Kinta shifted under the weight of her glares and her misplaced smile, wondering what was going through her mind. Why was she looking at him and Ayo like she was relieved about something? The wyrm made another anxious noise, so Kinta put a hand on his head to calm him down. “Trust, Ayo,” he murmured. The wyrm silenced, though he turned his blind eyes to the curious orb floating around. Kinta turned his attention back to this stranger. So, she could read. Then she would help him with the puzzle he’d been mulling over for years.

    The smile brought by this revelation wavered as she went on to describe what was beyond the ocean. Kinta had never seen a mountain, but he remembered from his tribe’s tales that they were enormous expanses of land reaching high into the clouds. He did not know what a city was, and he wondered if such a place would be more beautiful than his island, his home. If he were lucky, maybe this woman would take him with her, across the sea, to these mountains and plains and cities and whatever else was out there. The very thought brought his excited smile back full force.

    But then she was introducing herself. Kinta cocked his head, surprised at the gesture. Did she want to be friends? Would he finally have the opportunity to befriend another human? He repeated her name aloud, struggling over the foreign syllables and held vowels. “Why have you two names?” he mumbled curiously. He looked for the ball she had mentioned, but he found no one beside her. He squinted into the sunlight, seeing nothing but the sun’s odd rays—wait, did she mean that? Kinta raised a brow. Was Maralyn friends with… a ghost? And why did they share their second name? He didn’t have time to ask, for in the next moment she was making some strange gesture. Kinta looked on in bewilderment, trying to figure out what it meant. Was he supposed to repeat it? He grabbed the edge of his shorts, tattered and thin from years of use, and he tried to do what she had just done. His leg position was all wrong, however, and he lost his balance in the process. Luckily, he caught himself before falling, and embarrassed, he scratched his head, figuring he would have to ask about it later.

    Kinta straightened. To the islander, this woman was making no sense. Didn’t she know anything about the etiquette of conversation, the norms of talking? There was more that was different about her than her weird accent and grammar. He cleared his throat, and finally he introduced himself. “I am Kinta.” He sounded unsure, as if he hadn’t heard the name himself in years. “I am the last warrior of the Ransei tribe, and the last man standing after the massacre of my people.” Though he said man, he was very much a child. His voice had not yet reached puberty, and his body was devoid of hair, save for the messy flop of light brown locks atop his head. Yet his voice did not waver; he believed his words. He turned to the creature beside him, and with a smile he continued. “This is my friend, Ayo. Together we live here.”

    With introductions now done, Kinta drew closer to the woman. “You must tell me,” he said, grabbing the necklace at his throat. “Read this. What does it read?” The etchings in the nautilus shell were old, faded. They were in the language of Kinta’s people, but the abbreviations would mean little to an outsider. Maralyn would likely only be able to read out the numbers, meaningless without the corresponding words. Only one of the Ransei would know the significance of such writings.

    But Kinta did not know that, and as he watched Maralyn, waiting for her to deliver to him the information he so desperately needed, there was an unmistakable joy in his eyes, a hope that he would finally understand what his family had left him.
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    Maralynn had to bite the inside of her cheek while watching Kinta try and curtsy for her. His awkward leg position and unsureness of his movements made it all the more amusing for her. He was quick to follow with introducing himself as Kinta and his pet wrym as Ayo. Filing those away for later, she was pleased watching him, giving him a warm smile that for once felt natural. She had no idea what the name Ransei tribe, which sounded completely foreign to her. Though, given the language barrier and the island itself, that didn’t mean much to her at the moment. She still didn’t know all the tribes and people in her own homeland, so who was she to judge. When the boy produced the nautilus necklace, she had to pause. He was asking way more questions than she could reasonably answer.

    “Hmm, the writing seems old, but let me see that for a moment.” She answered Kinta, bending over to allow the necklace to rest in the palm of her hand. The letters made no sense to her, and the numbers were clear enough to read, but made much less sense when paired with the other symbols. She mentally ran through as many languages she had been made to read, but nothing fit any of them, unless they were using an abbreviated short hand.

    ’We gotta tell the kid something, or he’s gonna be so upset’ Caesar prodded her, his words nagging at being ignored about the introductions. She agreed with him, though pointedly told him to stuff it for the moment. Keeping the boy on her side was the best option for her. Even with the knowledge that his entire village was gone, it didn’t mean all his people were gone, and any threat on the island was going to need a way to be dealt with. Secondly, she felt some pity for Kinta, having lost his family and being abandoned on this island by himself.

    “Well, this language is a bit picky to read, but the cleanest I make out are some initials and the numbers. My best telling, is that this is the season and date you were born. It must have been a gift for your birth.” Maralynn offered up with a sincere smile, wishing she could read more of it. Mayhaps someone on the mainland would be able to translate it more cleanly than she could.

    “Sorry if I couldn’t bring more information, but hopefully I can find you another person who might know more than I do.” Maralynn offered up to the boy, getting a response of shock from Caesar.

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  8. #8
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    The lady studied his necklace. This close, he could see the pores on her skin, the color in her cheeks, the splits of her hair. The last human who had been this close to him had died five years ago, in the hut he had once called home. But this was different; this foreigner held none of the warmth his family had, none of the closeness. Was she always this stiff? The Ransei had been a warm and welcoming people to all of their own, so Kinta had grown up assuming all humans were like that. But Maralyn was still distanced somehow, and the child did not know whether to take it as a personal insult or to chalk it up to a cultural difference.

    Her answer was a touch disappointing. Kinta looked down at the necklace. He had had it all his life, and most of his tribe had had necklaces like it, or rings or anklets. For years he had been dying to ask one of the elders what it meant, what words were given to him at his birth, but he would have to keep waiting. Kinta nodded quietly, thinking things over. If Maralyn didn't know his language, didn't know his people, was there anyone who could teach him how to be a Ransei man?

    He tried to shake the thought. He had taught himself just fine, and though most of his people's customs had died before he'd had the chance to learn them, it was up to him to preserve what he could. He nodded again, thanking Maralyn for her reading. At the mention of other people who might know more, Kinta perked up. "You are willing to take me to others?" he asked. He looked back to her floating house, at the rest of her crew. Would they treat him kindly, or would he end up like his family? Kinta bit his lip. He tried to think about it, about people who looked like Maralyn, looking down on the clothes he had not yet mended, the hair he'd cut himself, the dirt ever caked in his skin, the tools he had fashioned himself. In all his time alone, he had never had to prove himself to anyone, but what if the people out there, the people who knew more about the world than he ever could, what if they called him out for the liar he was?

    He was brought from his thoughts as the wyrm gently headbutted his leg. Kinta turned his attention to Ayo with a smile and patted his head. "Mind not," he murmured. Then, turning back to Maralyn, he shifted. "You wanted a place to rest. Follow me." He didn't wait for her response; Kinta took off behind him, away from the shores, deeper into the jungle of the island. He was quick, trained to walk through the winding path, over protruding vines and branches. It didn't occur to him that Maralyn, much bigger and less experienced with such terrain, might have more difficulty. He led her away from her ship, to the center of the island, where he slowed to a stop.

    Before him were the scattered remains of his people. Huts were burned and broken, made of clay and straw and stone. Pieces of wood and rock were half-buried by the sand. In the center was what once might have been a fireplace, but it was covered in leaves and dirt now. Cloths streamed from hut entrances, al dirty and torn. Kinta stood before this hub, a firm expression crossing his face. "This is the village square," he mumbled, refusing to use past tense. "There is not much here that was not stolen from us, but you are free to use whatever you find." It had all been cleared away years ago, the discarded shells, the puddles of red, but as Kinta looked at it all, he struggled to remove the memories from his head. He turned away, concentrating instead on his blind friend. "How long do you need to rest?" he asked Maralyn.
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    ‘I swear, I will set this forest ablaze when we leave’ Maralynn thought as she forced her way through the brush, ready to strike foliage away just to clear a path. It was a damn fight just to keep up close with the young boy, almost losing track of him several times. The trip took her into the depths of the islands, the ship fading into the forests before they finally exited into the town, the sight making her pause with anger stuck in her throat. She had seen villages like this before, but it still dragged at her heart.

    Before her rested the boy's town, utterly torn apart. Craters in the houses, the earth slowly reclaiming the lands and houses made from it. Fabric hung from opens and lines, pieces she could make out to be clothing prior to whatever had happened to the town. Pirates, mercenaries, or even the guards that would patrol nearby waters. If his people were as kind, they were easily taken care of. Just by looking at the place, there was nothing left for them to use again.

    “Oh, uh. A few days at the least, no more than 5. The ship requires several repairs and so do our lauders. So, this place … is your village?” Maralynn asked the young boy, moving to look at the town center. She studied the ruined appearance of the town center, feeling the image must have been rather beautiful before the people who had raided this village had destroyed it.


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  10. #10
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    Kinta looked over the square again, feeling a deep sense of loss once more. He nodded solemnly in responde to her question, then shrugged his shoulders. "I lived there," he said, pointing a finger to one of the huts that still had most of its wall. The roof had been destroyed and had blown away long ago, and the furniture inside was worn and broken. A dark green tapestry was half-buried in the sand, the only thing that had saved the child from his family's fate. "I lived there with Mother," he went on, "and Auntie, and my best friend Anya. It's also where they all died." His voice didn't waver; he spoke as if he were stating any fact. Ayo cowered at the words, however, but Kinta did not pay him any mind.

    He continued walking through the square. "This is where Elder Farrah lived," he went on, motioning to a ruined wall jutting out from the sand and dirt. "She would tell us stories about our ancestors. Oh, and here was Uncle Remai's house, he always brought back the biggest fish to eat!" Kinta went on, sharing the memories of his family with this stranger, pointing out the houses and celebrating the people who had once walked alongside him. After a while, he stopped himself and shifted. "Ayo and I live elsewhere now," he explained. He pointed in the distance, far from the town center, to a mountain shrouded by trees. "We made our home in the cave. It was easier to be there than here."

    The child looked over at Maralynn, raising a brow. She likely did not care about this culture; he felt his cheeks go warm from talking too much. "You have a village too, yes?" He approached her, tried to find something like a necklace or ring, something she might have taken from her own kin. "What was your family like?" he asked. "Was your elder a kind one? What sorts of things did you eat?" Though his questions were rooted in ignorance, the curious child wanted to learn more. "Might you show me the ways your people prepare food?" he asked, growing excited at the thought. He'd taught himself to cook; having a teacher now opened a world of possibility.
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