He had a plan. One that may not work, but still, a plan altogether. He needed to go to the marketplace first, the plan was more like an idea. It wasn’t well thought out and he didn’t know what he was doing, but it could be something to help solve his problem. A thought that he could at least try.
Na’Kito prepared everything that sunrise to leave his hut early. Caji was not here, he went to Mia’s hut like he usually did every sunrise. It gave him the time to be alone and go visit someone he needed to talk to. It could finally change things. Perhaps this could change everything. He needed to at least try.
Time had been unbearably slow and time passed since Mia and Tina’s appearance to this world, a little before the other humans did. No more had been brought for a whole summer now since the Jamati’s fall. A long time it seems like. He was already twenty-two and his brother Kai’Riba a year older. He didn’t feel any desire to talk to anyone else in a while and kept himself secluded except for a chosen few. There was nothing to him to talk about to others.
He did desire to speak to someone. That’s why he wanted to see Pasha. Even if it meant going through the village that grew much larger over the passing suns because of the upcoming massive Celebration that approached suddenly.
All the tribes were together here in the jungle. A celebration was much bigger than a ceremony. A ceremony is only between one tribe when a celebration was when all the villages around come together. All the chiefs of each tribe come together to choose which village would hold the big event. The Xutashi was chosen because of its large space.
It’s to celebrate how far the beings here had come over the length of time. Since the very beginning when they all fought each other on sight, now they can rely on each other. Help each other, and have each kid, cub, pup, and kit play together in harmony. That was its purpose.
He left the hut and seen just that. He was used to the emptiness of color when he witnessed the sight of everyone, the mixture of species, gathered together, and helping decorate the whole village before the actual celebrating begins. All the tents must be set up with each tribe preparing for a long stay.
His family was gone to help prepare for the event. It made leaving his hut discreet, leaving from the path of stairs amongst the tree to the ground where he soon mingled with the variety of his tribe and others.
This day Zeta was busy. She and Ruro had to be, even Kai, being the eldest son. If there was one thing he wasn’t jealous of was his brother being the oldest. At least he could do whatever he wanted, and the only reason someone comes to him was if they couldn’t find the three of his other family first. Now Mia was included on that list. It made him chuckle.
Everyone knew him as the one who was friends with the bad beings, the deviant ones, the trouble makers. Outsiders. Which they assume that he was the same, especially the elders. They didn’t know all the bad beings he knew in secret, but they all knew the one main friend that didn’t care to hide their reckless behavior. Pippie.
He didn’t think Pippie was that bad. He has done some to make one question for sure, he has probably the worst luck that he had seen on anyone before, but he was always there when he needed him. There were times he would keep himself secluded somewhere that he would seek him out and spend the time when he was in the village together. When he traveled and Pippie would ask him to go with him, but Kito always stayed behind.
They survived the Lands together. They have done things that others knew and didn’t know. Not all bad, but not good neither. They did dirty work for other friends in the Lands. Something he didn’t want to go back to, although Pippie also said he would. Only Kito came with him. Because they worked together so well. But the things he had to do that got blood on his hand he would keep to himself.
Those weren’t the jobs that were safe for him to do and not the kind to confidentially brag to mother about. He left because it was not the future he wanted. He wanted a chance to start a family of his own, like the others around him have. He simply couldn’t return to the Lands and risk tainting his soul once again, the way their Outside friends had.
Tainting a soul would dim one’s chance to find one mate. That it would ruin the tether if one darkened their half that needs to be fitted with another. How does one taint their soul? Killing someone, for example.
At least that was a belief amongst the kind’s that mated, more so the Chayeene. And Kito believed that himself, wholly, especially doing the things he did. What he had seen traveling the unforgiving dangerous Lands. He didn’t want to ruin his chances for his mate that he wanted more than that life which others have chosen, he didn’t want to take lives. There was a reason he could track well.
He didn’t let his mind sink further into the past. He still needed to get to his destination, which meant going through the entire village that was slightly even more crowded to get to the area of trading. The marketplace.
There were so many flowers around there were even some on the ground, which he stepped on, to continue on his way. His eyes surveyed his surroundings just to make sure he knew where he was going, and also spotting others he knew. Even from the other tribes that he had visited and stayed with before.
During his walk, he did see his first familiar face of the day. Dahl, and not too far from him was Tina. Na’Kito didn’t approach them, his eyes only scanned them as he walked by. Dahl did greet him with a smile and a learned wave, a human custom, with his free hand.
In his other arm was his cub. Six months old now and bigger each time Kito seen her. The little cub with her brownish blonde hair already showing darker brown highlights the same as her tails and ears, and her eyes green. Not that Kito knew this, he only saw it as a pale skinned light color cub with round cheeks, a little nose, and similar round eyes like her mother. Valarie. Her tail has even learned to sweep side to side at the tip below her and holding a stuffed teething toy.
She had her small head on Dahl’s shoulder with eyes the screamed that she was woken up not too long ago and was rather agitated that she was. Tina was busy standing on an extremely tall stool so he was keeping an eye on her while she was decoration a thick tree with more flowering.
So many flowers. He didn’t understand why there had to be so many flowers just for it all to just fall on the ground and die off anyway.
Then a much, much more similar face came into his view just a little further away from Dahl and through the entrance of the market himself. It was the very being that was on his mind only moments before. Pippie. The snow hair, white ears, pale skin Maurea with eyes that could make artic waters jealous of its color. Blue with flecks of white, and if Kito could see it, he would notice he resembled Pasha in color.
He could see his normal dashing to the female Maurea grin, and he has seen many females of his kind invite him into their bedroll just for that grin alone, even the outside females he came across did so. The number of times Kito could remember having to sit outside of so many large tents and guest huts because he invited females into his bedroll and he would have to wait outside until he was finished to go to bed himself.
Sometimes be would just pass out outside anyway, but he never held those times against him. He was sure that if he too was mateless without the bond Pippie would do the same for him.
Considering the other amount of times he managed to help him, some things he let slide.
“It’s been quite a time since I saw your face around, stranger,” Pippie teased. “Where have you been off too? And where’s spots?”
“Caji? I am sure he is with Mia right now. Or Kai. I have time alone for right now.”
“Thank Serane,” he chuckled. “I managed to get a large box of firewater, not stolen. I promise. How about we go somewhere and drink some of it until we get a stupid idea? I don’t know, perhaps put a bunch of insects in the female washrooms instead of birds.”
Na’Kito mirrored his chuckle when that memory came to mind. Also the amount of time it took catching all those birds, thirty of them, just to hide them in just one washroom in separate cages. The trick was getting that pass Tonilla. “She has more Warriors helping her this summer with the celebration, there is no one there. And you do not need to be drunk to think of dumb ideas.”
“I am going to take that as a compliment.”
“Only you would.”
“So was you walking around the village to find me? If so, I am honored.”
“No, but in truth, I am glad I did. Is Pasha by any chance still in the long hut right now? I must speak to her about something important.”
“I was just thrown out of the hut by Ruro. They are talking and I always get kicked out because Pasha assumes I will somehow use something they say against them. I don’t know how they would get that absurd idea, but I did meet Xain and talked to him for a time. Watch out, he is itching for a fight already. Now I’m here. Why do you need to speak with her?”
He inwardly swore. He didn’t want to go speak to her with his father there... He wanted to talk to her alone about the question he wanted to ask. The answer only she can give him. He kept in his disappointed sigh. “I have not seen her for a time. I would have like to meet her and have a talk, but not with father there.”
“So how about that offer?”
He considered going somewhere and drinking. He would occasionally drink with him, that was a fact. It numbed his problems and his heartaches. His sadness. His anger. But the aches he would get next sunrise was not one he wanted to deal with, the last memory motivated him to shake his head. “No, I am going to go back to my hut. There were things there I need to do. ”
“No you don’t,” Pippie called that lie out, yet was unaware of his first one. “You are just going to go back to that hut and lay in that bed of yours. How about we go to your hut and celebrate on our own?”
He shook his head the second time, “I cannot with Caji. There are conditions I must have around him, he is a fragile mind.”
“That’s for sure,” Pippie half muttered. He wasn’t sure about the Kikera’s age but he should be grown enough to not be acting like a cub. He would go to Kito’s hut and see him always watching him and never speaking or doing anything more than smiling and making noises. And acting like a cub.
“Mia has been trying to help him with his problems, he has been secluded from others than his kind before. His mind is not like yours or mine, he will not understand with us getting drunk in my hut and hurt ourselves falling around. He would cry if he thought one of us died. So no, I cannot drink with you back at my hut.”
“Alright, I can ask Minni if she would like one with me. I’m sure she is still around where I saw her earlier this morning,” he shrugged. “Could be busy for the rest of the until nightfall if so, enjoy going back to your grown cub, black spots. Rise above, fall below, friend.”
“Rise above, fall below,” Na’Kito repeated. A secret farewell they only used when they were alone.
Na’Kito and Pippie parted ways once their conversation had ended. Pippie left when he noticed the grim look that covered the golden Xutashi Warrior and saw that he wasn’t so interested in their conversation. He made an inward sigh and was saddened at the thought of his friend’s humor is a rare treat now. He didn’t seem interested in the fun things they had used to do together, but there was no point in pushing it further.
Kito watched Pippie leave as he walked away and decided it was time to return to his hut. So he went to a stall that had an assortment of meats and the owner handed him a pouch of hand-cut large slices of dark meat. He took it without giving the male on the other side of the counter a second look before turning and heading back to the hut which he knew would be quiet again.
Outside of his hut caused him to stop to observe the situation for a moment. On the front steps of his hut was Mia, who was sitting on the top step while Caji sat below so she could use a dagger to cut small pieces of his brown hair and place the pieces to the side to avoid any messes. Caji was grinning as she slices another section off and put the excess away, raking her fingers through his hair to see if everything was even. His hair was now frequently groomed by Mia and was kept three inches long and easily manageable.
He purred when she moved her hand through his hair again when she was satisfied with the perfect trim and set the dagger down and wrapped the hair up in the cloth. She saw Kito and instinctively smiled his way, grabbing her things and standing up. “Alright, Caji. I’m done.”
Caji immediately stood and began to move his own hands through his hair and even over his slightly curved ears. He looked at the little brown hair human with his tail curling every second, his eyes went to Kito, and moved his hands through his hair again to communicate something he didn’t catch. Somehow Mia did. “He wants you to compliment his haircut, Kito.”
Kito gave Caji’s hair a slight curve of his brow, “He lets you cut his hair still?”
“He loves it,” she beamed. “Would you like me to do yours?”
By now Kito’s hair was long enough that he needed to frequently push it back with his fingers, yet he didn’t feel like sitting in one spot as someone touches his head. He walked by her and placed his hand on the handle of his hut door, his head turned, “No.”
“Oh,” his answer may have been more stern than he intended. “Okay. Well, if you ever change your mind you can always just ask me. You know where you can find me.”
Kito neither said a word nor nodded, instead he just entered his hut and shut the door tightly behind him. Mia gave a long, hefty sigh at the closed door and turned to look at Caji, who stood there with a perplexed look on his face. Poor Caji didn’t understand Kito’s dark point right now with his life that Kai had explained to her. It seemed like only Kai truly knew what he was going through. “Do me a favor and keep an eye on him for me, Caji.”
He blinked and nodded after he heard his name. She knew he understood her even if he didn’t talk, his vocabulary never improved as Nuru’s did. Now he could speak close to a whole sentence with the help of Ivy.
She needed to return to her hut soon because she knew Kai would come back soon and she left. Caji went to the hut and opened the door.
Inside of the hut Kito had made it to his usual favorite spot that Caji had watched him sit at for hours and see him use his dagger to carve small blocks of wood into small little replicas of animals in the Jungle that he had seen before. Right now he was carving a Nahgua, a fierce and deadly creature that prowls the darkest parts of the Jungle. It was only half-finished and he was carving still, sitting in his bed and letting the shaved pieces fall on the floor carelessly.
Caji had his bed that Kito had made him on the other side of the hut that they had been sharing for a while. Now a full summer. It wasn’t like Kai’s, it was slightly smaller but left enough room for him to stretch. Caji found himself hungry though and helped himself to the metal box with ice from the Maurea mountains that could keep any meat fresh for many, many days. Perhaps moons. Caji wanted some food so he took some of the meat intending to put it on the fire. Kito had even brought more.
Caji was in the process of making soup now. It was something he learned how to make when he was with his kind and he decided to make it now since Kito didn’t seem to be in the mood for making anything. His skin was even pale that the Kikera knew that it had been a time since he had even fed. His ears lowered and a sad look filled his green eyes as he looked at the Xutashi worriedly.
He was even whimpering to get his attention, which worked. Dark blue eyes rose to him and a slight growl eluded him, “Why are you whining?”
His head lowered and his eyes became pleading. All the ingredients were in the pot that would come out later as a warm, brothy stew.
“I do not know what you are trying to tell me,” he resumed to his carvings. “Leave me be.”
He whined again with a small purr to add to it. Not a cheerful one but one that showed his saddened mood. Especially as he watched him go days without eating or even more important -feeding. Mia wouldn’t like that. Caji knew his family wouldn’t like him doing that.
Instead, he just continued to carve.
I did have a better beginning but the first chapter and a half of the second vanished so I had to look through my memory and the water in my eyes and rewrite it. Well, two chapters, but I had to modify and rewrite which is an author’s nightmare. But this is similar to what it was before but sadly just slightly shortened. I am definitely going to go back and adjust this in the future, but for now, it seems like a good start. The rest of the story is still intact 😪
**"Rise above, fall below" originates from the secretive group they worked for in the Lands. It is still unknown for now exactly what that is**