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From Ka'harja's Journey, chapter 6

190 words

‘She’ll be fine,’ said Distro. She began to stretch as Dena dried and dressed herself.

‘You gonna get dressed?’ Ka’harja scoffed. ‘Or at least dry off?’

‘Nah, I’m alright!’ Distro grinned, starting back towards the camp. ‘I’ll just drip-dry.’

Ka’harja watched the two mothers leave with Little Demon. They talked happily between themselves; like old friends who’d known each other for years. Ka’harja felt almost jealous that Dena and his mother had bonded so quickly in the past month. Especially when he considered the cold looks Dena gave him.

He shook his head. It wasn’t Dena’s fault; she’d lived with Kay’oten for … who knows how long? He could only imagine what she saw when she looked at him. He thought it must be for her like it was for him when he was young, and first saw himself in a mirror. … That horrible, familiar face that wasn’t quite his parents’ but close enough to make him sick.

He sighed. He just had to be patient with Dena until she saw him as himself, and not a reminder of the Heck’ne.

‘That’s not fair,’ Stars mumbled, swimming up next to Ka’harja. ‘Everyone gets to be naked except for me.’

‘You’re naked now,’ he pointed out.


‘Ah, yeah, I didn’t think those two got along much,’ Ka’harja replied. ‘Did something happen between them?’

Coff shook his head. ‘N-No. They just— They just— Just—‘

‘Just don’t get along?’ Ka’harja offered.

Coff bit his lip and nodded. ‘Y-Yea—’

‘—HAH!’ Distro’s laugh cut in from above, and the boys turned to see her, Denni, and Dena staring down at them from the top of the hill. ‘GAAAAY!’

‘THAT’S THE POINT!’ Ka’harja shouted back as his mother began her way down towards him. ‘Aw, no, what does she want— THIS IS A PRIVATE CONVERSATION! GO AWAY!’

‘YOU SKIPPED BREAKFAST!’ Distro pointed to Denni, who brandished a loaf of bread high above her head. ‘BUT IF YOU’RE GOING TO BE UNGRATEFUL, THEN FINE! DENNI?’

The loaf of bread sailed in a perfect arc through the air and Ka’harja didn’t have time to respond before it hit him full in the face.

‘Ow!’ Ka’harja exclaimed, dramatically motioning from his face to the bread. ‘Seriously? SERIOUSLY?’

‘LOVE YOU!’ his mother called back. Then she headed back up the hill and put an arm around each of her friends, leading them both back towards camp.

‘Gods! I swear! Sometimes she’s just— UGH!’ Ka’harja flopped onto his back and gave a groan. ‘Sorry about her.’


The Runaways - Prologue

cw: implied abuse

‘I don’t want anyone else wandering off tonight,’ voice low, Kay’oten stepped so close to Dena’cosa their noses touched. ‘Keep those ababhi daughters of yours close. If either of them gets in our way I’ll punish them as if they let Ka’harja go themselves!’

Neg’an felt a shiver run down her spine and she gripped her mother’s hands tightly as Kay’oten stalked away. She wondered if she should tell her mother that she had let Ka’harja go herself— But what good would that do? He was gone now. She’d only get in trouble.

‘Come on, little carrot,’ Dena’cosa sighed and gently led her daughter toward their sleeping hovel. ‘You heard Kay’oten. Stay close to me tonight.’

‘I’m not ababhi,’ Neg’an rasped. ‘Am I?’

‘No, carrot,’ Dena’cosa comforted, sitting her daughter down in their bed. ‘You’re not ababhi.’

‘Definitely not,’ a voice muttered from the corner of the small shelter. There was a sniff, and Neg’an’s older sister sat up from under her tattered fur blanket. ‘You’re hakalika at most.’

‘Ta’lak, don’t …’ Dena’cosa sighed. ‘Don’t say that.’

‘Why? We’re all hakalika,’ Ta’lak replied. ‘If we weren’t we wouldn’t be here. And if our yalfit wasn’t completely ababhi maybe I’d not have been born.’

‘Ta’lak—’

‘—I know,’ Ta’lak sighed. ‘I’m sorry, kekik. Maybe I’m ababhi.’


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