My writing and art! Main @cjadewyton and polished work on @jade-wyton
‘Oh, sorry, didn’t mean to scare you,’ Raidus chuckled. ‘I was just talking with your friend over there and couldn’t help noticing such a beautiful girl out here on her own.’
‘He’s actually my brother. But thank you,’ Stars mumbled, brushing her hair out of her eyes with a hand.
As she looked around awkwardly, Raidus glanced back at Ka’harja and gave him a confused look, mouthing, she’s your sister?
Ka’harja nodded, frowning, and motioned to his throat. Raidus obviously understood the threat— But seemed to think it was funny as his grin reappeared, much to Ka’harja’s annoyance.
‘You look nice as well,’ Stars finally managed, bringing Raidus’ attention back to her.
This literally took me less than 2 minutes to draw the idea slapped me in the face so hard that I literally sprinted across the house & tripped over while ripping paper out of the recycling bin
2 little bits from the prologue of the second book in Don't Lose Hope! Ka'harja is 11 here. Just a bab!
I cut out the middle bit because I just want to show off these two scenes, specifically, of Distro being a better mother than Kay'oten.
cw: child abuse mention
‘Ith not?’ groaned Ka’harja. He wasn’t sure what else there was to do; gathering firewood had been his last chore for the day.
‘Not if you want to learn how to make potions, it’s not,’ Distro winked at the boy.
‘I’m too tired to read,’ Ka’harja told her. ‘I’ll do twi-th ath much reading tomorrow. I promith.’
‘I was thinking about a more hands-on exercise.’
Ka’harja’s heart skipped a beat. ‘You’re going to let me make a po-thon?’
‘Unless you’d rather go to bed—’
‘—NO!’ Ka’harja didn’t feel tired anymore. ‘I WANT TO MAKE A PO-THON! What po-thon am I going to make? Invi-thability? Levita-thon? Explo-tionth?’
‘A herbal tea,’ Distro told him. ‘Cottonflower.’
Ka’harja’s heart sank. ‘That’th not a po-thon.’
‘Cottonflower tea is the most important potion you will ever learn to make,’ Distro frowned. ‘And it’s the one potion I expect you to never charge people for. Do you understand?’
Ka’harja gave a huff; and then, when he caught Distro’s frown, he nodded.
‘Do you remember what cottonflower tea is?’ she asked.
‘It’th the one for nurlakth,’ said Ka’harja. ‘When they get the thelf-feeding thickneth.’
‘Good lad,’ Distro raised a hand, hesitating when the child flinched. ‘Don’t be scared. High-five.’
Ka’harja swallowed, and slowly raised his own hand— And let out a loud giggle as Distro smacked their palms together.
‘That’s my boy!’ she cheered, ruffling his hair and giving his ears a playful tug. ‘Now, into the pantry with you!’
Ka’harja rushed to the kitchen, opening the pantry door wide and slipping inside.
He almost gasped; he’d never been allowed in the pantry before, and he couldn’t believe his eyes as they trailed along the shelf-covered walls. It was like a rainbow of plants and poultices.
‘What did I just say about talking back?’ Distro asked. ‘Did I say to do it? I think not.’
‘I know you don’t real-ly mind,’ Ka’harja grinned. ‘If you did, you’d hit me, juth-d like my real kekik would.’
‘No, I wouldn’t!’ Distro snapped. ‘Don’t talk that crock to me! And don’t you dare compare me to a Har’py.... And what’s this talk about “real” kekiks? As long as you live with me I’m your mother. Plain and simple.’
‘Not by blood,’ mumbled Ka’harja as he began to tear the leaves into small pieces. ‘You’re juth-d looking ath-ter me.’
‘Exactly! That means I’m your mother,’ Distro yanked the leaves out of Ka’harja’s grip and began to snip them into neat squares with scissors. ‘I don’t know what you think mothers are supposed to do, but I’m telling you now; a real mother is the one who loves you most. Nobody will ever love you as much as a real mother will.’
‘But my real moth-der doeth-n’t loth me—’
‘Nonsense! Of course I do,’ said Distro as she scooped the leaves into a ceramic cup. ‘Now, do you remember what to do after cutting the leaves?’
Ka’harja shook his head and Distro let out a heavy sigh.
Ka'harja's Journey, Chapter 7 excerpt:
Before he could get the words out of his mouth, Annanyn plopped herself between the pair and offered them both fish from her complicated-looking platter. As she turned to Ka’harja her face pulled in a grimace. ‘What’s that smell?’
‘What smell?’ Sken asked.
‘Smells like mouldy cloth,’ Annanyn muttered, sniffing at the air. ‘I think someone’s cast magic here recently.’
‘What?’ Ka’harja laughed. ‘What are you talking about?’
Annanyn was too busy sniffing to respond, so Sken answered for her. ‘She’s an aura sensor. She can smell magic.’
‘Smell magic?’ Ka’harja echoed. ‘I though aura sensors … sensed magic.’
‘Smell is a sense,’ Sken scoffed, rolling her eyes and grinning playfully. ‘Every aura sensor is different. Annanyn smells it. … What sort of magic is it, puddle-hopper?’
From Ka'harja's Journey, chapter 6
‘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.
Little Demon's first word.
Little Demon gave a gurgle, and Ka’harja laughed and pulled him back against his chest.
‘Hah, idiot,’ Ka’harja teased. ‘That’s what you are, aren’t you? Stupid!’
‘F. ... Flu!
‘That’s a new noise,’ snickering, Ka’harja adjusted the wiggling infant until he was more comfortable. ‘You trying to say flowers? Flowers. Can you say that?’
‘F. ... Fuck.’
Ka’harja felt his blood ice over.
Oh Eighth Child of the Ninth.
‘Uh, right,’ Ka’harja smacked his lips together and stood straight. ‘Right. Right. Baku? Baku!’
Baku stuck his head out of the caravan he’d disappeared into. ‘Yeah?’
‘Hold this for me,’ he didn’t wait for a response before thrusting Little Demon info Baku’s arms. ‘I have to— I gotta go.’
‘Ka’harja!’ Baku called back loudly as Ka’harja disappeared around a corner. ‘Hey! No! Stars asked you to look after him! I’m busy! Sken said. ... BY THE GODDESS KA’HARJA WHAT DID TOU DO TO HIM?’
‘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.’
?? Apparently I didn't post this?? Coz I was like "Oh I'll reblog my book's cover!" but can't seem to find it on any of my blogs *raspberry noises*
Ka'harja's Journey is the first book in my series, Don't Lose Hope. I'm 80k+ words into the public version of it, and still have a lot more to go! It's a passion project that's completely free and can be found on my world-building website, demrefor.com! It contains some adult content & sensitive topics, though, so be aware of that if you choose to check it out!
‘Hello! I am Keemi’Keemi! I am serving drinks today!’ the avio gave a happy flap of her wings.
‘I’m Stars!’ Stars’ face lit up. ‘And this is Koko, Baku, Lif, Trat, Sken, Annanyn, Coborn, and my best friend— Ka’harja!’
‘Oh best friend!’ Keemi’Keemi beamed. ‘I have seven those! They very fun have! Lots and lots of love!’
Stars nodded. ‘Is it okay if I ask what keemi means, Q?’
‘Oh, yes! Very okay!’ Keemi’Keemi nodded. ‘Keemi when you small, and parents give you three kisses on nose to make giggles!’
‘So your name is …’ Ka’harja hesitated.
‘Six giggle kisses!’ Keemi’Keemi beamed.
Ka'harja's Journey, Chapter 9 (WIP)
Ka'harja falls in a river and is pulled out by Sken. The following conversation is as awkward as those two always are when put together.
‘Hey— No, no!’ Ka’harja leapt to his feet and raised his hands defensively. ‘You guys can’t bully me!’ ‘Crock!’ Distro gave a wicked grin and made to stand up. ‘We can absolutely bully you!’ ‘NO!’ Ka’harja didn’t mean for it to come out as a shriek, but the entire room had taken cue from his mother and suddenly advanced on him— And he was only half out the door before he felt his mother leap onto his back and whoop like she was taming a wild horse. He nearly slipped down the last step as her weight slammed into him and stumbled along the damp grass for a minute before Distro’s arms wrapped around his face and he couldn’t see where he was going. ‘Git ‘im, Distro!’ ‘No! Stop getting me!’ Ka’harja exclaimed. Then he tripped and fell, the weight on his back pulling him down sideways. ‘Aw, FUCK!’ Distro exclaimed as Ka’harja landed on her. ‘Elbow— ELBOW!’ Ka’harja rolled off her and she let out a gasp, gripping her stomach and rolling over to catch her breath. ‘Y’kay, Distro?’ Denni called. ‘Yeah, fine,’ Distro replied. ‘Serves you right,’ Ka’harja joked, rolling to his feet and offering his mother a hand. ‘I’m a sensitive boy, you know!’ Right as he said it he met eyes with Coff, and felt like an idiot. But then Coff smiled and he felt a little less like an idiot. … And then his mother yanked him onto the ground again and started sticking her fingers in his ears, and the shriek he let out made him feel stupider than ever. ‘Let me go!’ he cried. ‘I’m fragile! I’M FRAGILE!’ ‘Crock!’ Distro retorted before making a throaty snort— And Ka’harja screamed as spit made its way down the back of his neck. ‘DISGUSTING!’ his voice rose so high it hurt his ears. ‘YOU’RE DISGUSTING!’ ‘You’re the one with spit on you.’ ‘Get off me!’ wiggling as much as he could, Ka’harja managed to escape his mother’s grip and fled through the caravans towards the river. He couldn’t hear her following him and he slowed as he made it to the incline, turning to see nobody behind him. ‘Oh, thank the Eighth child of the Ninth,’ he breathed, stumbling down the hill. Then he slipped and tumbled the whole way down before splashing into the river with another loud cry.
Little Demon's biological father shows up in book 3. He told his wife about sleeping with Stars and leaving her in Heck'ne, and Timamisa wanted to meet her and Little Demon and try to set things right and offer Stars support.
Raidus, who loves Stars very dearly, is a touch protective.
Or maybe they just didn’t care. Raidus wasn’t exactly being subtle as he forced the dassen into a not-so-friendly embrace, and pressed his lips intimately close to his ear and whispered so quietly Ka’harja had to strain to hear.
‘If you even look at Stars again I’ll bite your throat out.’
There it was.
Fabecutt didn’t argue with Raidus as he was released. He didn’t even seem surprised by the threat. He just looked defeated as Stars and Timamisa watched on, seemingly oblivious to the menacing way Raidus was catching his tongue-ring on his fangs.
Surely Ka’harja wasn’t the only one who saw this happening?
‘I think you two are going to get alone well!’ Timamisa chirped.
‘Yes! Just like me and my brother!’ Stars agreed, matching Timamisa’s tone. Ka’harja could almost think it was genuine— But then, he’d met Lah’kort. And his suspicions were only confirmed as Timamisa headed for the door and Stars’ smile fell before she followed.
As soon as they were out the door, Fabecutt was against the wall.
‘Touch Stars again and it’ll be me fucking your wife!’ Raidus hissed. ‘You got that, undercut?’
‘Uh, I’m not actually sure,’ Ka’harja admitted. ‘I wasn’t joking before. I’m … lost.’
‘—I know where she should be, if they haven’t left me behind,’ Ka’harja pointed in a random direction. ‘By the river.’
‘River ain’t that way, Sweetheart,’ Denni corrected Ka’harja by pushing his fingers until he was pointed in the right direction.
Ka'harja is good at one thing and one thing only... And that's being hungry
‘Ka’harja and I use fresh herbs all the time,’ said Distro. ‘Let me see them.’
Ka’harja watched his mother stand over the healer and point. ‘The moon’s leaf is fine, but the cortcor berries are a little underripe, see the orange colouration? Put them in some sugar-water until they’re a bright red.’
‘W-Will that w-work?’ amazed, Coff put the berries aside and wrote a quick note.
‘For cortcor berries it does,’ Ka’harja chimed in, leaning over the two and brushing some pale green berries away from the rest. ‘Not for the julijun, though, the sugar makes them lose their potency. You need to pick them ripe or they’re useless for anything but replanting.’
Coff nodded and scribbled down another note. ‘Wh-What about the a-acorns? I’m not s-sure if they’re o-okay or— Or if they’re going bad.’
Ka’harja picked one up and bit into it. ‘Tastes fine to me.’
The healer looked at him, horrified. ‘You’re n-not even go-going to. …’
Ka’harja swallowed. ‘Not going to what?’
Ka’harja frowned. ‘You only shell them if you’re using them for potions, I thought?’
Coff put his face in his hands and let out a long, pained sigh as Ka’harja ate the rest of the acorn, cap and all.
‘He’s like a squirrel,’ Distro snickered.
‘Squirrels do-don’t eat the sh-shells,’ Coff corrected. ‘He’s like a. … A. …’
‘Hey, I’m right here, you know!’ Ka’harja snapped playfully, finishing the last bowl of soup. ‘Dammit.’
‘Still hungry, bin-boy?’ Distro asked. She grinned when Ka’harja nodded. ‘There was a lot more leftover. I don’t think anyone will mind if you have another bowl.’
‘You— You just had s-seven bowls of soup!’ Coff exclaimed. ‘How are you st-still wanting m-more?’
Ka’harja shrugged. ‘I always eat this much.’
This is pretty long, but I'm very happy with it! It's actually from a published chapter, so if you want to read the whole thing properly formatted you can find the series HERE.
Ka'harja's had an awkward day. Annanyn offers to sit with him so he can have a break, and accidentally tells him her entire life story.
He nearly jumped out of his skin as Annanyn put a hand on his back.
Great Star! Could he not go anywhere in this place without someone trying to talk to him?
‘Yeah, I’m fine,’ he lied. ‘Just … thinking.’
‘About Coff?’ Annanyn asked.
‘Wh— What makes you think that?’
‘I saw you two talking. It looked awkward,’ she gave him a sympathetic smile and readjusted Little Demon in her arms— Ka’harja had almost missed the tiny little lad until he’d let out a tired murmur.
‘Hey, you little fucker,’ Ka’harja couldn’t help bending down and smooching the boy’s nose.
‘Don’t call him that!’ Annanyn gasped, quickly planting her own kisses over the baby. ‘You’re not a swear-word! You’re a brave little man!’
Ka’harja couldn’t help but giggle. ‘I mean, I’m not good with kids, but I’m pretty sure it’s okay to swear in front of a one-month-old. He’s not going to repeat it!’
‘You’re right, you’re not good with kids,’ Annanyn scoffed. When she was done rolling her eyes her smile returned, creasing her chubby cheeks against her eyes in a cheeky grin as she gave her fins a happy flick. ‘I’m so lucky Stars is letting me look after him. I can’t wait to adopt my own little cutie!’
‘Right, coz you’re gay!’ Ka’harja blurted. ‘I mean— Well yeah. … Because of that.’
He was glad Annanyn had a sense of humour.
‘Yes,’ she giggled. ‘Unless the gods put a child in me, I really doubt it’s going to happen any other way.’
‘Right,’ Ka’harja coughed. ‘So. … How is Sken? I haven’t seen her all day.’
‘Busy,’ Annanyn replied, her shoulders sagging as she sighed. ‘I haven’t seen her much, either.’
‘Sounds lonely,’ he wasn’t sure if he should put a hand on her shoulder? Maybe. … Oh gods why was she so sticky?
Ka’harja remembered she was a seces at the last moment, and swallowed the sick feeling that her slimy skin left in his chest.
This was a mistake. But he couldn’t just take his hand away, now.
Maybe a quick pat?
Was that enough pats?
Maybe he should. …
That seemed about right.
‘Are you sure you’re okay?’ Annanyn asked carefully. ‘You don’t seem okay.’
‘I’m fine,’ he repeated his lie, though this time it came out a little less confident. And this time, it was obvious Annanyn didn’t believe him.
‘Would you like to come sit with me?’ she offered. ‘In my caravan. I have to double check the books —stock and stuff— and it’d be nice to have some company. We don’t have to talk or anything.’
‘Uh, sure,’ Ka’harja liked the idea of that. Just quietly blending into the background was when he felt most comfortable.
Annanyn nodded and then, as if to prove she wasn’t going to bother him by talking, turned around without another word and began her way back to her private caravan.
She held the door open for Ka’harja, who wasn’t sure if his quiet thank-you was heard. But he was too embarrassed to repeat himself and instead plopped himself down on the floor next to the bathtub-bed and rubbed the tense muscles in his neck.
Annanyn took her place at a small, book-covered desk that resembled Coff’s and began carefully moving stacks of paper from a nearby shelf onto her workspace.
Ka’harja felt … awkward, sitting in silence. He knew Annanyn had said they didn’t have to talk but he— He actually sort of wanted to talk to her? He couldn’t believe it. Just a month ago if she’d come over he’d have retreated into the pantry and hidden away to avoid conversation. Now he had the urge to start a conversation with her. …
Would it be rude to talk while she was working? Should he say something or should he keep quiet?
He watched her scribble away for a few minutes before finally deciding to say something.
‘That’s a lot of math,’ he offered. ‘I’m not too good at math. I know that’s not the best thing to hear from an alchemist but. … Uh. … I’ve just never been able to sit down and focus long enough to figure it out. You know?’
‘Oh, yes, I understand completely!’ Annanyn’s excited tone reassured Ka’harja he’d made the right choice as she turned in her chair and raised her gills. ‘I used to be terrible at it! So terrible my parents actually considered sending me to the Gallamor to study! But luckily for me, while my surrogate was looking into it my genitor got offered a job in Dr’oy, and they forgot about it during the move. I wasn’t going to remind them, so I was spared. Until I got fired from my first job for math-related reasons. Then my surrogate lost xer mind! Xie started talking about sending me to boarding school again, so I faked a job offer from a company in Canis La’Can. I’d say it was a mistake, because that place was cold, but I met Sken there, so not really. And— And. … I’ve been talking for a while, haven’t I?’
‘Keep going,’ Ka’harja grinned. ‘How’d you and Sken meet? I want to hear it!’
The look on Annanyn’s face was well worth the high-pitch scree that escaped her gills as she continued, ‘Well, I met Sken a few weeks after moving to La’Can! I was looking for a place to stay, but not many people wanted to give board to a sixteenth-eclipser without a job— And not many places wanted to give a job to someone without a mailing address. So I … may have stolen a few wallets and tried to fake being a lady called Luronne.’
Ka’harja was so shocked he almost laughed. He couldn’t believe Annanyn had ever broken the law! She always seemed so sweet! But here she was, lying to her parents, running away from home, stealing wallets and— ‘You stole someone’s identity?’
‘Tried to. Only she was pretty well-known, so it didn’t work. I was just lucky she didn’t press charges,’ Annanyn shook her head and grinned. ‘I was legally an adult by seces law, and old enough to live alone by wolven law, so if she’d not had a sense of humour I could have ended up in jail!’
‘Shit, you were a rebel!’ Ka’harja almost wanted to tell her his own wild adventures stealing and lying his way through life— But bit his tongue. He’d stolen from her, after all. It was a bit more awkward to explain then stealing from a complete stranger. … Though she’d been a stranger when he’d done it.
‘Don’t swear in front of the baby!’ Annanyn scolded in a hushed voice. She grinned again as she continued, ‘Needless to say, they booked me a boat back to Dr’oy. Which I missed four times before they gave up on me. Then I saw Felelor again— Oh, I don’t think I told you how we met?’
‘He told me before,’ Ka’harja chuckled. ‘Jumped in front of a valenor and saved your life.’
Annanyn nodded, flicking her gills and smiling widely. ‘Felelor was an absolute sweetheart and let me stay at his place while he was recovering from his injuries. In return I had to do things for him that he couldn’t do. Like getting groceries. The local shopkeepers shadowed me whenever I dared set foot in their stores, though, and apparently Felelor got a few letters about what I’d done.’
‘Yeah,’ Annanyn giggled. ‘I don’t think he really cared too much. I’m grateful for that, because it got cold real fast and I was a really stubborn teenager. … I would have frozen before I went home. It was actually one of the cold days I met Sken! I went to the market to pick up potatoes with Naranako and bumped into her in the crowd. … I remember the look she gave me; I think she just fell in love with me on the spot. She offered to carry my bags— Sort of. She was really flustered and couldn’t get the words out, and it was cute, so I asked if she wanted to walk with us and, well. … Two years later we got married and started travelling. … Oh, Scara. This was meant to be about math! I’m so sorry. If I even think of Sken I just sort of. … Get distracted.’
‘You tell stories like I do,’ Ka’harja chuckled.
Annanyn’s cheeks turned a deep green and she bit her lip. ‘So much for not-talking, huh?’
‘I started it, and I really enjoyed hearing about your life!’ he replied, moving to sit on his tail so Annanyn wouldn’t see it wagging— He realised too late that he’d only brought attention to it, and blushed as Annanyn giggled. ‘Hey— Uh, maybe a bit personal, but in all honesty … I’ve never been in a good relationship before and I was curious. … What do you two do when you fight? If you’ve ever fought before? I always seem to fall out with my boyfriends over one thing or another. Any advice?’
‘We disagree on plenty of things,’ Annanyn’s impish grin returned and she leant in close. ‘But usually I just compliment her muscles and she caves and lets me get my way.’
‘Somehow, I don’t feel that would work for me,’ Ka’harja gave a dramatic sigh that ended with an involuntary giggle. ‘But yeah, I’ve seen you do that to your wuvly Skenny-poo!’
‘Shh!’ Annanyn covered her mouth and clamped down her gills, trying to muffle her snicker. ‘Great Star, Ka’harja! Don’t! She’ll hear you!’
‘Weally? You weally weally tink so?’ Ka’harja teased. ‘Your big stwong kelp knot will hear me? Wot will she do to me?’
‘I’ll beat the living shit out of you!’ Sken’s voice nearly gave Ka’harja a heart attack.
He was on his feet before she managed to shut the door, and was halfway to the back of the room before Annanyn made it the three steps forward to kiss her wife.
‘You’re done setting up camp?’ she asked, a desperate hint in her voice as she buried her face into Sken’s chest. ‘I’ve missed you!’
‘I’ve missed you too, puddle-hopper. Sorry today was so long,’ Sken whispered into the top of Annanyn’s head. She breathed her in for a long moment before pulling away and turning to Ka’harja, her dreamy eyes turning into a death-glare as she flicked her barbed tail in his direction. ‘If I ever hear you refer to me as “kelp knot” again. …’
Sken gave a humoured snort before putting her arms back around Annanyn and grinning. ‘I caught you a walleye.’
‘Coff?’ Sken’s gills twitched curiously. ‘He’s alright. Koko reckons he works too hard. Which is saying something, considering she pushes people more than I do! But I think. …’
‘It’s to distract him from something,’ she finished. Then she cracked open another bottle of drink. She drank this one slowly. ‘He’s always looking for something to do; when he runs out of work he’ll tear down his shelves and rearrange them just to keep himself busy. … I keep telling him it’s fine. But he doesn’t know how to stop. Complete opposite of you. You don’t seem to start anything.’
Ka’harja’s Journey - Chapter 7
‘She to be happy when know more nurlak-kin here! You visit us, Q? It make mumma happy! We have house Below! Pink door at centre town fountain! Seven floor down, blue feather room door, black handle! Knock for sure!’
‘I’ll try and visit before we leave,’ Stars replied. ‘I promise.’
Ka’harja wasn’t sure how she’d do that, considering the directions the child had given. ‘Uh, do you have a map or something? I don’t know if we’ll be able to find it.’
‘Really? But it’s so simple,’ Stars blinked. ‘Their house is in the caves, and the building with the pink door near the town’s fountain is the closest entrance. Go seven floors down, find the door decorated with blue feathers and a black handle. Knock before going in.’
‘Oh,’ Ka’harja sighed. ‘Are you sure you’re not part avio?’
Stars shakes her head. ‘I’m very happy being nurlak, thank you.’
‘You are very rude foxen,’ Cor’Bala said, jumping out of the caravan and giving a wave. ‘I do not mind that you rude. But I ask that please do not be rude if visit, or mumma get mad with you! Hit with a broom, like with last one to visit! Not a fun.’
Context: Ka’harja is a sneaky theif who stole from the caravan, and overheard Baku’s name while doing so.
Also, he has anxiety.
Ka’harja nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard Baku’s voice calling out. He forced himself to smile and turned to face the guard. ‘Just asking for a bit of help for the girls. No need to worry, Baku.’
As soon as the name escaped his mouth Ka’harja’s chest tightened and he felt the uncontrollable urge to backflip into the sun and die. He couldn’t believe he’d let that slip!
Baku just stared at Ka’harja and frowned. ‘Have we met?’
‘Yes!’ Ka’harja lied. His voice broke with fear and he gave a quick cough, which he pretended was a badly-timed sneeze. ‘We met last year. Don’t you remember me?’
Luckily Baku seemed to think Ka’harja had been offended and not terrified. He glanced at his feet and apologised. ‘I’m usually good with faces. I can’t think of how I’d forget yours; it’s very unique.’
Ka’harja shrugged and tried to laugh. ‘You were pretty drunk, I’m not surprised you don’t remember.’
‘Ah! That would explain it,’ an uneven grin spread across Baku’s face, squashing his scars until they looked like age lines on his otherwise young face. ‘I wouldn’t have thought I’d forget a man like you! But I suppose I wouldn’t remember forgetting, would I?’
‘I have to get back to work —the caravan is leaving soon— but I hope we see each other again next year.’
Smiling back awkwardly, Ka’harja gave Baku a nod. He figured Baku was the sort of guy to draw attention to himself and in a panicked attempt to make his story more believable, he took a gamble. ‘Right, and you can do that party trick again.’
‘The one with the two bottles and the chikchik? Sure!’ with a wave, Baku turned and strutted away.
Ka’harja walked as calmly as he could until he was out of the caravan’s sight. … Then he sprinted away as fast as he could in the direction of his house.
‘I expected her to come sooner,’ Distro explained. ‘After Ka’harja told me what she did to him. I’ve been wanting to break this bitch’s neck since she broke his leg!’
Sken glanced to the scar on Ka’harja’s leg, then looked up with awe. ‘You really care about him, don’t you? Even though he’s not really—’
‘—That sentence better finish with “very bright,”’ Distro hissed. ‘Because if anyone else dares to imply he’s not my son, I’ll kill them, too!’
Sken’s gills pressed down in shock and she gave a curt nod.
Y’all want some dumbass gay shit?
‘S-So,’ Coff echoed. ‘Ka’harja, I-I. …’
Ka’harja waited patiently for Coff to finish, but when the man didn’t, he simply sighed and looked to the floor. ‘I know you like Stars.’
‘Wh-What? Why would I. … We h-have nothing in-in c-common!’ Coff gasped. ‘I don’t— I d-don’t l-like her!’
‘Wait, you don’t like Stars?’ Ka’harja asked. ‘Then who’s the crush you were talking about?’
Coff stared at him for a long, long moment. The look on his face told Ka’harja that he should have known, but in the state he was in he … couldn’t quite figure it out.
After a minute that felt like an hour, he decided to guess. ‘You like … Sken?’
‘NO!’ Coff exclaimed, burying his face in his hands. ‘Y-Y-You’re so— So st-st-stup-stup-stupid— H— How— How are you— Even— Even—’
Ka’harja wasn’t sure what to do as Coff doubled over with a frustrated cry, so he awkwardly leant over so he could pat the healer’s back. ‘I’m sorry. Does it really matter that I know? I mean— I’d probably end up telling them by accident. …’
Coff took a deep breath and sat up straight. He stared at Ka’harja again, his eyes wide. After a minute, he spoke.
‘I like … you.’
‘As a friend?’
The healer struck him across the cheek so hard he slipped off the bed and onto the floor.
The opening of Stars' third eye (literally)
For context, Stars is a nurlak; a four-eyed race of humanoids. However, Stars was born with her second set of eyes imperforated, meaning her eyelids were fused together at birth. She was never treated for it and her second set of eyes were always just sort of under the closed lids.
There's an accident when she's training with Baku, and she's nicked by the tip of his sword... And it doesn't go well.
cw: blood / gore / facial injury / pus / general gross stuff
Stars made for the block. She stepped back and lifted her own sword in one motion, preparing to expertly block Baku’s swing. But at the last second Stars’ foot slid on a rock; her ankle twisted and she dropped her sword as she fell to her knee.
Baku stumbled back awkwardly, too far through his swing to halt. The tip of his sword barely tapped Stars’ face and Ka’harja sighed with relief. At worst she’d have a cut on her forehead, at best it would just be a light scratch…
But then Stars fell forward, gripping her forehead and screaming, and Ka’harja leapt to his feet.
‘It hurts!’ Stars exclaimed. ‘Baku! Help me! It hurts!’
‘It’s just a scratch,’ Baku tried to comfort Stars. He stepped to her side and put a hand to her shoulder. ‘It’ll hurt for a bit but it’s not—’
Baku’s pause made Ka’harja’s chest tighten. His heart felt like it was going to explode as he raced over to Stars.
She still clutched at her head and blood oozed between her fingers; lots of blood. Too much blood. And there was another, pus-like liquid. Yellow-brown and thick, Ka’harja could smell its rank oder as he reached out and grabbed Stars’ arm.
She squeaked and pulled away as Ka’harja tried to see what Baku’s sword had done.
‘It hurts!’ she repeated. ‘It hurts like fire and scratches and punches all at once!’
‘Get Coff,’ Ka’harja demanded to Baku.
Baku nodded and started back to the caravan.
Ka’harja tried to coax Stars off the ground, but she refused to move. Tears streamed down her face and she struggled as Ka’harja forced her to her feet and dragged her towards the caravan.
‘Stars, you’re hurt!’ said Ka’harja, his voice breaking. ‘You have to get to Coff!’
Stars shook her head and collapsed to her knees again. She trembled for a second before looking up to Ka’harja. ‘How bad is it?’ she asked nervously.
Ka’harja watched in horror as she slowly pulled her hand away from her forehead. Blood and pus trailed after it, sticky and stringy like too-thick gravy. It dripped down her arm and face and she had to wink her eye to stop the blood from getting in it. The small cut Baku had made had torn open wider and jagged-edged skin sliced across almost half of Stars’ forehead.
Ka’harja nearly threw up when he saw the wound. ‘Bad.’