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Offline heartstringss

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Katherine continued to watch Imamu, finding herself quickly becoming fascinated with the other woman, just the same as her brother had been in those first few brief encounters. Imamu's nature was so foreign, odd even in contrast to the locals of the village. Even in trying to be more social and human with the locals, her movements remained largely animalistic, yet she moved with such fluidity--not quite grace, but rather... prowess?

Even as she stared, Katherine remained mostly unaware of herself doing so, until at long last Imamu's head turned in her direction and the other woman's dark, wild eyes lit on her own pale green ones. She felt a strange icy shock course through her veins, trapped in the larger woman's curious stare. In that moment she felt like a smaller, weaker animal caught in the gaze of something much larger and one hundred times more ferocious. In a way, she was.

Katherine followed Imamu's gaze, stubbornly not turning away even as the other woman moved to her side and continued to look her over from a closer perspective, as if taking stock of her health. She could read the other's intentions quite clearly in the idle wandering of her gaze; Katherine knew that look, because she herself was also a keen observer--the mark of an army nurse. She could sense herself being read, but Imamu's judgments were much less clear.

The tenseness in her shoulders didn't first start to lessen until Imamu's eyes finally flicked up from scanning over her profile back to her face. Direct eye contact seemed difficult to maintain--not in general, but specifically because Imamu's gaze remained so intense. Those eyes... they really weren't natural. Nothing about her was. The words from the other woman's mouth came flat and abrupt, almost startling Katherine right into submission. She merely nodded, remembering the nagapie back in her tent, likely still fast asleep in the makeshift nest she'd fashioned out of old shirts and scraps of cloth from Kenneth's chest.

When Imamu spoke the second time, Katherine sensed the change in her tone of voice, however slight it was. She relaxed a little, giving another small nod before rising stiffly to her feet. Without another word, she began to lead the way through the village back to the tent she had come to occupy over the last several days.

Walking ahead of Imamu, she wasn't aware of the other woman's familiarity in that she didn't necessarily need to be shown the way, but once they came to the flap, she did recognize Imamu's hesitation then. She wondered briefly at the reasoning, but not long enough to form any sort of concrete opinion on the why. Even if she had wanted to give it more thought, she didn't have much time. In the next moment, Imamu had swept ahead, pulling back the flap and entering into the small space. She quickly located the nagapie's nest, again without having to be shown.

When Imamu crouched down to study the small creature and take stock of its injuries, making only the vaguest remark at its age, Katherine crouched down as well. Her posture was almost defensive in the closeness she kept to the other woman, her gaze intense as she followed Imamu's every movement and interaction with the small animal. She watched as the nagapie's eyes slid open within those first few seconds, its small form hunkering low into the nest of blankets, however its posture remained remarkably calm at the same time. After the past couple of days settling into a kept livelihood, the nagapie seemed to have already begun to adjust, even now with two large humans looming very closely overhead.

Katherine knew she couldn't deny the truth in Imamu's words, no matter how badly she wanted to. The baby nagapie, now alone in the wild without a mother to care for it, and especially considering how docile it had already become, would not survive on its own. With Imamu's expert judgment, Katherine caught herself becoming surprisingly emotional. The brunette leaned forward, the scent of sweat, foreign spices, and mild soap wafting through the stale too-still air of the tent as she moved. She bent down and gently scooped the nagapie into her palm.

The creature chittered quietly, but did not shy away from her touch. Instead it scrambled up her forearm, bushy tail tickling her skin as it moved, its injured forepaw pulled in close so as to keep from putting any pressure on it as it moved. The nagapie scampered up her arm and nestled into the same crook of her neck that it had the night before, its tiny furry body tucked in close beneath the heavy curtain of her hair and the collar of her shirt. Only its small face peeked out, a large pair of eyes underneath an even larger pair of ears.

It was likely the first time Katherine had smiled since arriving in this village; even being a small smile, it changed the shape of her face entirely. Once the nagapie had swept into her hair and was all but completely out of sight, she looked back to Imamu, expression shifting to something more serious when she caught the woman once again observing her. Her guard went back up, like a brick wall erected in a single instant.

"I will care for it," she said almost immediately, though she couldn't deny she might be moving a bit too quickly in accepting such a huge responsibility before she was even certain how long she planned on staying in this village. There was another problem as well: while she could tend to human wounds with ease, she had little knowledge on how to care for animal wounds.

"You can show me how to care for it," the brunette added a moment later, then immediately regretted the brusqueness of her tone, the nearly authoritative fashion in which she had spoken to the other woman--a deity, in the local's eyes, at that. Was she even ready for the type of regular interaction that type of relationship with Imamu would entail? She supposed she would have to be, if she wanted this nagapie to stay alive. And if she wanted to know more of Kenneth's last few years on earth.

She backtracked, tried to rephrase her words as more of a request instead-- "You can show me?" A small bit of color swept across her pale face, tinging the tips of her ears bright pink. Katherine could sense her face growing warm, but waved it off, attributing the growing heat creeping up her neck to the fact she now had a small creature tucked in against her collar bone.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2019, 03:39:45 AM by heartstringss »


Offline Misamia

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Being in the hut confined together Oni could pick up Katherine’s natural scent even stronger. Some scents reminded her of Ken while others were entirely Katherine’s own. She wondered if all westerners shared that similar scent or if it was something that belonged to the siblings alone. Some of the smells she knew would disappear with time, markers from her travels. The villager’s scents never changed, not truly save the occasional villager that would travel for supplies. Glancing at the girl she wondered what her scent would be like after spending time in the forest and the… what did Kenneth call it… traveling smells? Would go away.

As the child moved up the girls arm her eyes lazily followed it. It was already so attached there would be no point even if the original mother was found. This kind of thing was easy enough to happen, in fact that’s how her own companions had come to be. Well that really only applied to Ode and Lulu, Uma had just kind of showed up one day when she was still young. Their first meeting was rather entertaining in all honesty, Uma would disagree as it was a rather embarrassing one for the cat.

The child seemed to have finally settled happily within the girls hair after finishing its climb. Her eyes having never strayed from following its movements. Her gaze somewhat bored if not calculating. After all this wasn’t something she would eat, but it was acting in an interesting way. Kenneth always complained her neutral expression could send a company of men, whatever that was, stop cold in their tracks. It was how her eyes would just seem to penetrate whatever it was she was looking at as if it was some insignificant flea. Which turned into a discussion of what were fleas.

Noting the subtle shift in the girls posture her eyes moved from the child to hers. Care for it… yes that was an option now wasn’t it. She couldn’t fault her for choosing it seeing how the child latched onto her so. She always was a sucker for children, she never could figure out why. They were small helpless and completely useless. Yet it was hard for her to turn her back on them no matter the species. Seems she wasn’t the only one who couldn’t turn their back on a needy child either. Maybe it was a human thing, that’s what Ken had asked if she was once maybe she really was one after all.

She heard the words but it was the tone that had her lids dipping slightly over her eyes. She knew this girl meant nothing by it, but her instincts still riled against their cages for a brief moment. Who was she to order her around? The only reason she didn’t react was because though it has been some time but Ken would often do the same thing. Demand information but he was always so intent pouring over his journal as she spoke, she got use to it. From him. Another thing for her to wonder, were all westerners like this? With their demanding attitudes.

Oni was surprised when the girl asked once more, this time as a request not a demand. The color moving across her face was what caught her attention. She found herself leaning forwards curiously, eyes sweeping across her face following the trail of the color. It seemed to even go to her ears…. Was she sick? A quick little inhale of air said she wasn’t. How odd. She’d never seen this kind of thing happen before. Was it something only female westerners could do? She was sure none of the villagers had ever reacted like this, or did they? At least they never had around her, but they often made sure to act appropriately around her.

“Yes, I can show you. If that is what you wish” Oni finally said after a thoughtful moment. Her gaze finally moving from the girl towards where the smell of fruit could be found. The easiest way to go about this would be asking others of the species. She knew where they were found, so at the very least she could go ask them. “Come. We will go to a nest and see what kind of food they eat” there was no telling what the child would actually need to grow big. Adults may survive on what this girl was coming up with but that didn’t mean the children would. While she had a vague recollection of where these kind of animals lived, they never got big enough worth eating so she never bothered to keep track of where they lived. Lulu would be the best to ask about their exact location, Ode might also know but he was too rambunctious to bring into other animals nesting areas.

Walking through the village she didn’t pay the villagers any mind. She had helped this morning with the hunt and unless they needed something she would not return for a few days. No that wasn’t correct, she’d have to return tomorrow since she had given her word to help with the child. How bothersome, if only the girl lived in the jungle it would be easier. It was much too soon for that.

Moving through the village Katherine would see how the villagers moved from her path, heads lightly bobbing in respective greeting. It seems that they had relaxed from the stop and bow Kenneth had written about. You could still sense the revere and devotion they held for Imamu. It was one thing to read about it in Kenneth’s books but another to witness how the village moved around her. To the village Imamu was truly a spiritual being who walked among them and gave them blessings. It was easy to tell how they could feel this way. The way Imamu walked, her every movement was to put simply something else entirely from human.


Offline heartstringss

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Katherine could sense the way she’d originally phrased her words as an order rather than a request had bothered Imamu. The look she gave her was so intense, eyes narrowing dangerously thin to almost glaring; it completely stole her breath away. It was probably a good thing she’d been so quick to correct herself after she’d noticed what she’d done was wrong. Barely a week in and already she was starting to get ahead of herself. Accidentally disrespecting someone who was much less a person than they were a fucking Goddess of nature. Must she really be so foolish? Gee, she sure was off to a good start here, wasn’t she? Wouldn’t Kenneth be so proud?

Caught off-guard by Imamu’s glare, Katherine didn’t notice at first when the other’s expression shifted to one of curiosity instead. When the woman suddenly began to lean forward, her whole body tensed with the perceived threat of danger. She began to worry for her safety, only realizing that was foolish when she noticed the distracted up-and-down tracking of Imamu’s gaze. It was nothing to be alarmed over, it seemed. Instead, the woman seemed… fascinated? By what she couldn’t say, though it seemed likely to have something to do with Katherine’s face.

Which was just... okay, that was a bit nerve-wracking, honestly. She wasn’t used to people staring this much or getting so close. She simply didn’t understand what was going on. The sheer intensity of Imamu’s gaze was enough to still her heart. The beat stuttered briefly then all at once took to hammering instead, nerves fried in an instant. The farther down Imamu’s gaze tracked, the more she started to understand. Almost as suddenly as the thought occurred to her, her face deepened with color. Bright red taking over her cheeks, her ears, slowly creeping down the back of her neck. From between small gaps in the buttons around her collar and chest, even her chest seemed to be darkening with the color.

…And that’s what Imamu was staring at so intently, wasn’t it? The blush. It had to be. As if she’d never seen a person blush before, which... the more Katherine considered it, maybe that wasn’t so weird after all. The locals being indigenous meant they will had incredibly dark skin, so Imamu likely wasn't used to lighter skin tones or blushing. Likely not even while Kenneth had been around - he never had been one to blush, especially not as easily as Kate did. Christ. How had Kenneth done it? Becoming friends with this woman, all Katherine could think was that every new observation just seemed so overwhelming. It was all so, so strange.

Well, at least Imamu moved on fast.

When the other woman rose back to her feet accepting the request to teach her how to care for the young animal she'd taken in, Katherine felt grateful but was reasonably strugglikg to accept the sudden change of pace too. She rose unsteadily to her own feet, simply nodding when the other told her to come. Katherine followed Imamu out of the tent without a word, watching from behind as the other moved throughout the village. Indeed she observed the way the locals acted around Imamu, the complete devotion and respect they held for this strange otherworldly human in their midst. It was odd, and yet even Katherine herself couldn’t help but feel the same. There was just something about the woman that commanded respect - and the fact even Kenneth had felt the same blind devotion, well, how could Katherine possibly ignore that?

Still, her curiosity won the better of her. After a moment of walking behind the other, simply letting her lead the way, Katherine quickened her pace to fall in step beside her instead. She was careful not to jostle her shoulders too much, ever mindful of the small child still tucked into the crook of her neck. As if on cue, she felt a brief grasp of claws and webbing against her skin just before the creature’s grip relaxed and its light snoring resumed beneath her ear. Katherine noted these details but did not get distracted by them, gaze intently locked on the woman whose stride she now matched thanks to long legs. She still had so many questions. Looking up at the other, a million thoughts ran through her mind.

“Why did you care for my brother?” Katherine asked suddenly, feeling oddly confident despite herself. “You told me how the two of you became close, but not why. I mean—“ she paused, choosing her next words carefully. “It doesn’t seem like… you two would have had much in common. And yet, you let him move into your forest, becoming close enough that when he died, you took his burial completely upon yourself. Then you let me come into this village too, even though I was a stranger and it took me a whole two years to arrive.” She could’ve been a psychopath, for all Imamu would’ve known. (Not that Imamu likely would have understood what a psychopath was in the first place.) “Did you not view him as lesser worth? I mean... judging by Ken’s writing and the way the townspeople act around you, I can’t help but wonder -- what… are you?”
« Last Edit: May 13, 2020, 10:09:10 AM by heartstringss »


Offline Misamia

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Oni forgot how talkative westerners were. Ken had always been so chatty, asking so many questions. Had she hoped the sister would not be the same? No she supposed not, if she was being honest she somewhat missed the conversations. Exchanging information between one another. It had made her think more, start assessing things in a new way then she did before. Would the sister be as helpful? What knowledge did she have that could be useful to her. Her eyes slid towards the sister briefly before looking forwards once more towards the jungle.

“We had become friends.” She said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. “He was… persistent” the word rolled from her mouth in English. She remembered he would say that a lot. “He would ask questions whenever I came to the village. An followed me back to the jungle. He was something I had not dealt with before so I was curious” she mused. Curious… curiosity had played a large part in putting up with him. He was a skin color she had never seen before, his words foreign, just as foreign as the languages he could speak. “He would speak of other villages, of his home, of the places he had been. In turn he would ask questions about the jungle and animals. He acted much like a curious child” maybe that was another reason she had allowed him to have such liberties. He acted like such a child, the way he followed along and constantly asked questions. She had watched children do so with their parents in the village and even other villagers but no one had ever talked to her so openly.

Perhaps that was also in part why she had allowed it. It was a connection she didn’t have at the very least a different type of connection. She could never explain it, nor was there any English words for it she knew as she never spoke with Ken about it. Each creature was slotted in a place in her mind, whether they were important or not. Whether they were to be watched or ignored. Whether they should be protected or allowed to fend for themselves. The villagers were useful and they needed her aid, or so she had come to take it as such with the constant offerings. Though Ken had once explained to her how the village saw her, she remembered it well but it had made no difference to her. The village could act as it pleased, they were beneficial to one another. Ken had been something entirely new, something that went against the flow of what she knew and how people acted. It had indeed been the curiosity that allowed him to stay at her side.

“All things deserve to be respected in death. The villagers had nothing to remember him by should you find your way here. Your brother spoke of how stones would be placed as a reminder of those who lived for the living. Was I wrong in thinking you would want such a thing? He asked me to place one, for you” she mussed. It had been brought up briefly when Ken was alive. Where were her parents head stones? She didn’t know what he was talking about and so he had explained what they were and why people would place them. He had asked though, and so she had done so. He had taught her what she needed to know… warned her about the future that could come and what she needed to do to protect her home when it came.

Lesser? This comment brought Oni to a stop. Turning her full attention to the girl curiously before her expression once more became neutral. “Nothing is lesser, everything has its part.” Even as her expression said nothing the tone of her voice was firm. She did not see herself as some untouchable thing “I am me” what a simple statement that said nothing. It was true though. She was herself and that’s all she knew. “I am Imamu to the village. Oni to the jungle. Protector of what is mine and my home” it was all such stupidly simple statements but they were all what she was.

Oni knew the village treated her as some special thing. She also knew that she was different from them as well. As a child she had figured that out quickly enough, their words did not simply flow into her mind as the animals did. What that made her she didn’t know but it wasn’t something she worried about either. Ken had never pried or tried to figure out ‘what’ she was, at least not to her face. Maybe in his journal there was something but it was never a topic brought up between them.

The rustling of leaves had her attention turning back towards the Jungle. Lulu sweeping from the higher branches to land upon her shoulder. They had walked some distance in their talks having finally reached the jungle. Lulu clicking and chittering away about what had happened while she was away. Always the eager one to tell what was happening. A wave of her hand had the bird settling down curiously glancing between her and the girl. Reaching out Oni plucked the child from its perch buried in her hair, mindful of its claws. At first it had tried to cling closer but a soft click of the tongue had it submitting quickly enough. Holding it before Lulu she glanced at the bird “Find the others” she stated before placing the child back in the girls hair. With a flip of the wings Lulu flew off into the trees leading the way towards the nests.


Offline heartstringss

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Katherine kept her eyes trained on Imamu while she spoke, the brief moment wherein their gaze connected causing her to nearly stumble and fall. She’d noticed that the other’s eyes were odd but hadn’t paid enough attention to the uniqueness of the color before now. With the news of her brother’s death, tracking down his last known resting place, finding out where he was buried, how he’d passed away... there’d certainly been a lot on her mind. Now there was nothing holding her back from paying attention to every detail - how tall she was, what her hair was like, how weird her eyes were. As if the intensity of her gaze wasn’t strange enough already, the color—

Hearing Imamu start to talk about how curious Ken had been had Katherine’s ears perking up, suddenly returned to the present. It’s hard to explain the feeling that spread through her then, a bone-deep sense of calm mixed with warm ’n fuzzies. Her lips began to curl up around the edges, the smile small and just as much sad as it was happy. “He’s always been like that,” she said to Imamu when the other said that Ken was like a curious child. She recalled a memory, rewind 13 years when she and Ken had still been in their teens wandering through the woods in their hometown and stumbled upon an old bridge. The thing had been old and rickety, clearly dangerous, but he’d still wanted to walk across. Hyper and bouncing on the balls of his feet, he’d begged Kate to go with him and when they got to the other side - there was nothing. Nothing but more woods. And when she asked him what he had expected to see in the first place? Nothing. I just had to know. Damn fool!

She shook her head when Imamu asked after the headstone, “No, it’s fine. I just didn’t understand…” she trailed off, finishing the thought only in the quiet of her own mind: why you cared. Her lips pursed thinking the words, gaze becoming unfocused, suddenly distant. She and Ken had grown up outsiders, the male of the pair much more outgoing and friendlier though still just as awkward all the same. The fact Ken had a friend like Imamu at the end of his life was comforting, that even if he might’ve died alone his body had still been cared for and he hadn’t simply been forgotten even years later. Imamu seemed to really care. At least someone had been there, because she sure hadn’t… Instead she’d been thousands of miles away, hadn’t she?

When Imamu paused at her question of Ken being lesser, Katherine idn’t notice her reaction right away, still walking another few steps before she finally glanced back and turned on her heel to find the other. Her heart jumped into her throat seeing that strange yellow gaze fixed so firmly upon her face. “I didn’t mean anything by it,” she said in response to the other’s firm tone, then snapped her mouth shut and simply listened. So Imamu didn’t view herself the same way as the locals did — how modest. I am me. It was so simple yet more than enough to explain exactly how she felt. Titles didn’t matter then, did they? But if the people viewed her as a deity, there had to be a reason - so why was that? The second name the woman gave brought her pause, Kate’s brow furrowing in the moment. “Oni?” she echoed the word, head tilting slightly. Was that her true name?

She didn’t have much time to think about it before the bird from before swooped down and landed upon Imamu’s shoulder. Katherine felt her skin prickle watching the two seem to converse - or at least the bird talked while Imamu listened. Though she still had so many questions, Katherine didn’t get a chance to ask anything more. A moment later Imamu’s eyes were back upon her face, then a large hand rose up and the other was suddenly reaching into her hair. She felt her skin crawl and burn with the contact, the baby nagapie skittering nervously about before Imamu gave a soft click of her tongue and the creature went still. She watched as Imamu held the tiny creature up to the bird and told it to find the others, bright color slowly creeping further up her neck when the other’s hands returned the nagapie back to her hair. She felt the child burrow back into her collar, its warm little body curling up inside the small crook of space between her neck and shoulder and sighed, reaching up to adjust her shirt collar so that less skin was exposed from all the movement.

It took a long moment before the heavy beat of her heart returned back to its normal pace, gaze turned curious when she looked upon Imamu next. “What is Oni?” she asked, head tilting slightly as she fell back into step beside the taller woman. It sounded like a name, but Katherine had only ever heard the woman referred to as Imamu. Even Ken had only ever called her Imamu in his journals. “Oni... is that your real name?”