Open [Kihala's Shrine] Musical Weeding & Mandolin Fish Feeding

Tazrae takes a break to do a little maintenance at the shrine.

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Syka is a new settlement of primarily humans on the east coast of Falyndar opposite of Riverfall on The Suvan Sea. [Syka Codex]

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[Kihala's Shrine] Musical Weeding & Mandolin Fish Feeding

Postby Tazrae on September 13th, 2020, 10:24 pm

Tazrae was a bit disturbed that the man felt he had to ask permission for everything he did. She’d noticed it earlier and again when he asked to go to the beach. They’d need to talk about that, for certain, because the more time Tazrae spent with Puk the more she decided to feel a little bit responsible for his happiness. It was actually a good feeling, for he didn’t stare at her like he was judging the width of her hips and if she’d make a good broodmare like Akalak men tended to do. He didn’t seem to see her that way at all. She noted that he looked to her for clues and guidance in the new settlement which was a bit amusing for she was muddling her way through navigating this society all on her own as it was. Muddling… not succeeding or failing… just a lot of trial and error. But the mark under her left wrist – the Guardian Symbol – was something she took seriously. Was Puk a first challenge? Tazrae didn’t know.

What she did know was that she liked him. He was big and gentle and the energy around him was settled, stoic, and steady. He’d never be a fast man, a sweet talker, or someone that sold snake oil remedies. He felt almost ‘of the earth’…. What was the phrase her father used to say? Salt of the Earth? She hadn’t really understood the concept, but the longer she was in Puk’s company the more clear the old saying became. He’d never mind her trying to feed him, which was one of the things that comforted Tazrae no matter how upset she got. And truth be told, she got lonely and upset a lot when no guests were around and there was nothing to nurture. And she hoped that even though she had guests tonight, Puk would feel welcome here and come around often. The rudeness of the Alakak hadn’t seemed to phase him, even though it angered her.

His story had big gaps in it. She noted that immediately on how he started and stopped in his response to her question on the necklace. And it made her reach out as he was talking, and gently pet his unruly hair. She stroked his head, on tippy toe, like she’d sooth Creech when the pup was nervous or upset. Puk had a ‘before’ in his life. And he had an ‘after’ in his life. It was the event that occurred which delineated his life that she wondered about. Now wasn’t the time to ask about it. Nor did Tazrae really need to know. Her curiosity didn’t trump his need for privacy and she understood that well. She had no right to ask and did not. But sometime soon, hopefully, he’d feel better enough about his life and himself to speak of it. Tazrae knew how he felt. Some wounds were hidden and didn’t leave big bruises on the skin or deep cuts that festered in the flesh. Some wounds were invisible and left on the soul.

She watched what he ate and realized immediately that the man was a vegetarian even though he choked down the chops. Tazrae smiled at this because she knew a great many dishes that didn’t involve meat but she could make for him easily. She never got to stretch her culinary wings because the Akalaks were heavy meat eaters and most of the diet on Syka involved hunting and big game. Thinking deeper on it, she should have realized that Puk wouldn’t like the flesh of other creatures. He was a Tskana, right? A huge cousin of the gentle little ashtas. She should have known…. Tazrae thought, shaking her head. She would never offer him meat again. But that didn’t mean he wouldn’t get good food. He would. She’d see to it.

The deck cleared off after the meal. The guests were off to do evening things in the Settlement or retired to their rooms to relax and unwind. Some went to walk the beach. Tazrae thought her job must be the best in the world because all she really had to do to serve the guests was keep their rooms clean and cook for them two to three times a day. And she realized as the Inn got more popular, she’d have to cut out the lunch and just offer two meals a day or perhaps a packed lunch for jungle adventures.

“Thank you for telling me. I enjoy cooking other things besides meat. I’ll enjoy making you things with no meat. Now that I know, it’s an easy thing to do.” She said, reaching over to pat his arm. Creech circled her feet and she scratched him. Tazrae avoided handling the Imperial Watcher when she was cooking or interacting with the guests, and the dog was used to turning his attention to visiting children or simply hanging off to the side watching the meals that tended to happen. When those times were over though, the dog slunk closer and tended to not let Tazrae out of his sight.

Taz listened to his story and nodded. So he was treated like some second class citizen. She knew that’s how Riverfall treated their Kelvics as well. “In Riverfall, people treated Kelvics as pets. You would probably be considered on the same level as Creature in terms of the pecking order. But Puk, this isn’t Riverfall or Taloba. This is Syka. Has anyone told you that here your life and your needs are just as important as everyone elses? Has anyone said you are welcome everywhere and that you don’t need permission to go to the beach or the commons or to go anywhere really? All you have to do is follow the same rules the rest of us follow and they are pretty easy. You respect others and their property, and they will respect you and your property. All that means is that you treat everyone nicely and they should treat you the same way. That Akalak man at dinner isn’t someone from here. He thinks this place is still Riverfall. It is not. You could have sat with them if you wanted. He has no right to tell you no. In fact, he’s a visitor here and you are a resident… so if anyone has more right to the table, it is you.” Tazrae explained quietly.

She matched his strengthened smile as he told her she moved his bed to better see the stars.

Taz laughed in delight about his story of the butterflies. “That sounds magical.” She said softly, as they stared out at the water and he talked more.

But as to his question, Tazrae shook her head. “I don’t know how to sing well, yet. I’m in fact kind of horrible at it. But I’m having lessons from my friend Xander. He is a bard and is a great singer. I don’t think I should teach you how to sing because I don’t know enough, but you can share lessons with me and learn from him?” She suggested, hopeful. Company in her singing lessons would be amazing. Xander was kind of a tyrant about . “Or we can sing together and just practice being terrible together where no one can hear us.” She suggested, her lips wide. Puk made her smile, a lot, and it wasn’t something she was used to doing. He felt like someone she could be friends with without expectations. That was a nice feeling, especially since she didn’t have a good track record with males in her life. Her father had been her hero, but he’d died way to young. She missed him. He had the same aura of gentleness that Puk had. Perhaps that was why she was warming to the young kelvic so fast.

Tazrae leaned further back in her chair and stretched, smiling slightly. “I’m glad you are here. But Puk, I would really like to hear about that thing…. The thing you don’t talk about. You have a before life… with that Taloba woman, Grau… then something happened. Then you have the after life… the now life. What happened, Puk?” She asked softly, turning to look at him with her sea blue eyes. “Its something hurtful within you. You should talk about it, tell someone, let it out. Because if you hold it inside and never talk about it, its like a wound that needs to be opened to the world to air out and heal. I think you deserve to heal from whatever it was that happened.” She added quietly, still watching him.
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[Kihala's Shrine] Musical Weeding & Mandolin Fish Feeding

Postby Puk on September 14th, 2020, 2:47 am



Puk didn't even flinch when Taz had reached out to ruffle his hair. He hadn't even thought about flinching, nor had even considered that her action might be to strike him. She messed with his hair and he relaxed under her touch. He knew, deep inside, he was safe with her. And he was grateful that she wouldn't cook anymore meat for him. It just was a weird tasting food.

And then she began to tell him about pets. And as she spoke, as she asked him questions, he began to realize that he had been a pet to Grau. And it made him angry to know that. And the moment he felt that anger, he quickly stood up, stumbling back away from the table, one hand out in front of him, his eyes wild, frantically searching for a way to escape.

The last time, and first time, he had been angry, he had killed Grau. He hadn't even meant to do so. He'd lost control of himself. And now he was keeping himself away from Tazrae so that she wouldn't be the next one to be trampled. He hid his head in one arm, the other outstretched dramatically. But there was no malicious intent inside Puk. His anger wasn't directed at Tazrae. It was toward a woman who was already dead.

And that was when he felt a lick on his arm. He looked over, seeing Creech licking at him, looking up at him. Puk was sitting on the deck, so it seemed the dog thought it an opportunity to get some attention. Creature was a pet too. Was he happy to be a pet? Did he know he was a pet? The dog whined a bit, and Puk's outstretched hand came down and gently rubbed the dog's head. Looking up at Taz from his spot, "I was told I needed to earn my keep here. I don't really know what all that means. I don't want to make people mad. I don't want to be mad." He thought more on her questions, and shook his head as he pondered on one thing she'd said. "It's not about my right or his right to the table. If I'm nice, people won't be as mad and mean. It's... not about me. I don't like being mad, so they probably don't either."

Creature had crawled up into Puk's lap and was licking at his chin as Puk pet him as gently as if he were the most fragile flower. Puk continued, "Property confuses me. I don't know why it's so important. I don't know why shiny coins are important. The jungle grows food, I eat it. I get tired, I sleep. I get thirsty, I drink."

Then the conversation continued, and they were talking about singing now. And he liked that conversation. It wasn't as tricky. She offered to sing terribly with him, and offered him to join her in lessons. He smiled, "Yes please. Both." He didn't know who Xander was, nor did the name register to him as male or female so he didn't form any preconceptions.

And then the conversation became hard again. She wanted him to talk about what he did. And it terrified him to do that. What if she made him leave here? What if they wanted to kill him like the Myrians? The anxiety had his heart racing, and he could feel his fight or flight kicking in. He gently picked up Creature and set him down away from him. He didn't want to accidentally hurt the little guy while he was like this. Puk drew his knees into his chest, wrapping his arms around them. If he sat like this, he couldn't hurt anyone.

"Grau raised me in Taloba. She's not my mother. I don't know my mother or father. Grau said she saved me, but it was a painful story she didn't like to talk about. I was grateful she saved me. She gave me food, taught me how to find food. She made me fight, made me get strong. She made pull things. Dead things she hunted. She said it was how I would learn to survive."

He rested his chin on his knees, regressing a bit to not looking Taz in the eyes, "I was young when I saw several Tskanna in Taloba. They are part of the herd that is part of the Ivory Tusk clan. I wanted to go talk to them. But Grau said no. I was never to talk to them. I don't know why."

Then he took a deep breath. "Earlier in summer, me and Grau came across a wild Tskanna, a female. I wanted to talk to her too. But Grau told me to attack her. I don't know why she wanted that. The female wasn't scaring us, we weren't in danger. I don't understand. But I refused. And this made Grau very angry. She hit me with the whip over and over again. She moved to whip the female..."

Tears were streaming down his cheeks once more. "I knocked Grau down with my trunk. And I stepped on her. Over and over and over. I was mad at her. I wanted a friend and she wanted me to hurt her."

Another deep breath, "I killed Grau. And scared, I returned back to Taloba. Grau's tribe found her, guessed what happened. They... some of them wanted to kill me. Others wanted me in chains. They didn't let me talk. I was too scared to talk. But the woman who brought me here... She talked. She convinced them to let me leave. And then I came here."

Eyes still filled with tears. "I don't want to hurt anyone. I didn't want to hurt Grau. I don't like hurting anyone. I can still feel her bones breaking under my feet, hear her breathing gurgled with blood."

He was looking down at the floor now. In a bare whisper, "I got mad and I killed her. That's why I don't want anyone to be mad."

Puk hid his eyes in his knees, for he was sure that no one could accept him as a killer. He would have to leave. He would have to be alone again. Scared again. Syka was too nice. Tazrae was too nice. And nice people and killers don't mix.

Puk stood up. He couldn't even look in Tazrae's direction, he was so ashamed of himself. "I'll go now. It was nice meeting you. I'm sorry." He needed to be moving. If he kept moving, they couldn't trap him like the Myrians and decide his fate for him. If he kept moving, he couldn't hurt Taz or Creech. If he kept moving, he wouldn't hear that final gasp of Grau and know that she was gone.

And so he turned to leave.

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[Kihala's Shrine] Musical Weeding & Mandolin Fish Feeding

Postby Tazrae on September 19th, 2020, 3:28 pm

It pleased her to no end that he would be willing to sit lessons with her with Xander. Her bard friend was a good teacher even if he gave himself no credit. Puk would learn faster and better from Xander than he’d ever learn from Tazrae. But it would give her someone else to sing with for sure, and Tazrae knew she was going to love that.

The conversation flowed back and forth before Puk started talking to her about whatever it was that had been bothering him. It surrounded Grau, a woman who sounded like she was his mother if not his caretaker. Tazrae listened closely, sitting up slightly in her chair, taking her feet down and leaning closer to Puk as to not miss a word. Then he paused and stood up as if he would leave. He said as much and Tazrae rose immediately to take his hand. She caught it in her gentle grip, not forcing him to stay but urging him too.

“Please Puk… stay a while. You are in Syka now and no one is going to force you to do anything you don’t want to do. But I would really like you to sit back down and listen to me a moment.” She said softly, gently, careful not to make her words a demand. If he made any move to go, she’d release his hand and let him, but if he decided to stay a few more breaths, she’d start talking.

“If everything is as you say it is, then you did the right thing. Killing someone isn’t always a bad thing, Puk. People aren’t always good. This world is brutal and a lot of bad is out there in it. I don’t think hitting anyone for no reason other than they refuse to do horrible things because you tell them to is abuse. We call people like those bullies. And bullies are lazy. They take their victims and isolate them away from other people so the only ideas they hear are the ideas from the bully themselves. She told you early on not to talk to anyone…. To never talk to anyone. What was she hiding? Why would she even do that? And to beat another person is a crime in almost any place, especially if they’ve done nothing wrong and refuse to actually do something that is wrong in the first place.” Tazrae said thoughtfully.

Then she quietly spoke again, recounting something she’d seen as a small girl. “When I was little, a circus came through Riverfall and my father took me to see it. They had Elephants in it. They are bigger than Ashta and smaller than your kind, but still pretty huge. They did tricks, and people rode them around, and I was pretty stunned that such huge animals could be controlled so easily. My father took me walking back through the circus camp after the show so I could pet some of the animals and see them up close. There was a small fee for the tour. We saw the tent where the elephants lived when they weren’t in the show. They had big elephants and they had a baby elephant.” Tazrae watched Puk carefully, not sure how she was going to explain this next part.

“The big elephants were bound with these tiny chains around one foot that was attached to the main tent pole which had been driven deep into the ground. The chains were tiny… any one of the elephants could snap the chain with just a mere flick of their ankles, but they didn’t. I asked one of the men tending the elephants why they never escaped. He took me around to the baby elephant. It’s leg was wrapped in a massive chain… one that was so heavy I doubt I could even lift a single link. It was miserable… and it couldn’t move…. Literally. It was so miserable. The handler said that they trained the elephants young on very heavy chains that they could not break them…. even though the babies tried over and over. So when they got older… they’d been tricked into believing the chains wouldn’t break and it was hopeless to fight to be free. One little jerk and they could have… but they never did… because the prison the elephants in – by that time – was one of the mind as well as the body. Do you understand? Sometimes very bad people keep very good people under control by tricks like that. She didn’t want you to talk to anyone else because she didn’t want you hearing any other ideas besides hers. She didn’t want you to know freedom like they did.” Tazrae said softly, sure of it.

“I’m glad you killed her, Puk. You did the world a favor and rid it of evil.” She added, then reached out and hugged the big man. “That is something to be proud of, not to be ashamed of. If you’d just ran away, she’d have done what she did to you to someone else. She’d have hurt others. You prevented that by fighting back and not letting her live. Now you have your own life… one you can choose how to live any way you want too.” She added, offering him a smile and leaning forward to kiss his cheek sotly.

“I’m proud of you.” She added, urging him to sit down. “Many people in your situation would have never gotten mad. That anger gave you courage. And you did the right thing with that courage. I’ve heard stories of the Myrians. They don’t like men. They keep them oppressed to control them. You had that against you as well. Male and not a Myrian… but a Kelvic. That you survived Taloba is a wonder to me. No wonder you were a slave there. Here, that doesn’t have to happen.” She added.

“Here you can start over and be anything. What is it you really want to be, Puk?” She asked softly.
Last edited by Tazrae on September 21st, 2020, 4:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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[Kihala's Shrine] Musical Weeding & Mandolin Fish Feeding

Postby Puk on September 21st, 2020, 4:43 am



Puk felt her hand grasp onto his own, softly. He could easily rip his hand away. But he didn't want to do so. He stopped. She asked him to stay. To do whatever it was he wanted to do. And so he stayed, because he wanted to stay with her. He turned back, returning to his seat at the table. And he was ready to listen as she spoke.

Her words made sense. It was the first time he'd heard the word bully, but he was able to tell that it was Grau, for sure. But as Tazrae told the story of this circus... thing, Puk felt two emotions within him, raging as two storms, both fighting one another and strengthening one another. He felt an intense anger for these people that would do such a thing to these elephants, these cousins of his. This anger was also directed at himself, for he could see that a similar type of trick had been applied to him by Grau. He also felt a great sadness, for the beasts being forced into that life and strangely enough... for the people that had to go see that. No one could like that, so they must have been forced to watch it.

Just like the members of the Ivory Tusk clan had been forced to watch him with Grau. He had been in a circus, and they the unwilling audience. But now he wondered something else. Why if people had seen that did they not save them? Why not do something?

Why had no one saved him? Why had they only watched?

Puk knew right in that moment that if he were forced to go watch this horrible circus thing that he would be helping his cousins break free. Because... he wished someone would do the same for him. And that was when Tazrae embraced him. And he hugged her back, his nose resting in the messy curls of her hair. He squeezed gently, realizing that she was doing to him what he wanted to do to for those elephants. She was pulling up the stake that Grau had tricked him into thinking held him prisoner.

Taz was being his hero.

Then she pecked his cheek with her lips, and spoke to him about Myrians and Taloba. And she had called him a slave. He knew what that word meant, and until this conversation, he'd never once considered that was what he was. No. What he had been. He wasn't a slave now. And he never would be again. And he knew Taz was right. He knew Grau would hurt others, he knew she had hurt others. And if she had her way, she would use him to hurt others too.

So in a way, he was glad he had stopped her too. Still, he didn't like that he killed her.

And so in response to her question, he unconsciously took a gentle hold of one of her hands, "I... want to find what I want to be. I don't want to hurt anyone. I don't want to be a slave. I don't anyone to be in chains or in a circus." But he didn't like that he kept saying things he didn't want to be. "I want... to be free. I want to be safe. I want to be..."

He let his brow furrow deeply as he thought more. "I want to be a Sykan."

He didn't know what else he wanted to be or do, but he knew there was so much more. He just needed to figure it out. "I want to be your friend."

And Puk had some more questions of his own, which surprised him. He seemed to always have more and more questions around Taz, something that he enjoyed. She gave him things to look forward to. He looked forward to getting her firewood. He looked forward to eating meals she made without meat in them. He looked forward to learning how to sing. And to play drums, though he wanted to do that in secret. To surprise her.

Puk hadn't really looked forward to things before. He looked up at the stars once more, smiling. He would save his questions for later. It was peaceful as the tide lapped softly against the beach, the wind gently blowing past them. Puk then decided to do one more thing. He pulled off his necklace, the one given to him from the Ivory Tusk woman. He reached out, gently offering to put it over her head to drape over her chest. If she allowed it, he would ease it into place, so as to not mess up her curls.

He didn't say anything in offering it. He wasn't fully sure what he would've said, nor was he sure why he offered it in the first place. But it felt right, it felt good to do so. Puk didn't know it yet, but he was reaching out, building his herd, and Tazrae was the first he extended that to.

And with that offer, whether or not she accepted the necklace, he knew he would protect her with his life. Not because she made him, not because he was obligated, but because he wanted to. Because he knew she was his friend, and he was hers.

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