Mellday, Late Fi 1895
I am finally content and sit in my tent alongside a couple candles as a fire burns out, slowly, beyond the exit. It is getting warmer outside but I still wear my longer sleeves and Dodar boots, as it's the coldest season and they are lined generously with Viak fur. Viak's are Kuu's biggest, most dangerous wild cousins to dogs. Wearing their pelt in any form is considered a proud fashion for Kuuvian hunters like myself.
But late in the month of Fi brings Aderford, the season that promotes growth and rebrith. And with Aderford comes Early Aderford Berries that grow just outside of the south gate to Falinnbannao, beyond the walls to the warm, large, Falinnbannao castle where the Queen resides in Oforand, the season when most crops grow...and I spend my time hunting Oforand Baaor's (large, black, mean beasts with tough skin, made for Kuuvian Dodar's) and Skiic's (small, fast rodents that hibernate during Dodar and taste swell in soup). Early Aderford Berries, a common Kuuvian tradition that I started practicing ever since I left my childhood tribe in Nuukviaan, the northern most village in Kuu. They are only grown beyond the south gate of Falinnbannao and they only grow in late Fi, just as Aderford begins. Every year at this time of year I trek to Falinnbannao and pick Early Aderford Berries along with hundreds of other Kuuvians among the bushes that grow them, spanning miles.
Unlike me, at this time (which was actually yesterday), I was dressed in my God Stag antlers, made from the real antlers of The God Stag. Most Kuuvians adorn themselves with antlers in every day fashion as a tribute to the God we worshop, Ofandyr, who takes shape as a great stag. It is unlikely to see an Ofandyr-fearing Kuuvian not wearing a pair. It is, however, illegal to wear REAL God Stag antlers because it is illegal to hunt and kill The God Stag – a breed of deer found only in Kuu – as it is considered sacrilege. I normally remember this and wear head dresses I've purchased in an upper-Kuuvian town or made from my own findings. I commonly wear my God Stag antlers when hunting or in northern villages because it marks me as a Kuuvian hunter who will hunt a God Stag for a price. You see, even though it is illegal to hunt the God Stag, it is still sought after heavily by Kuuvians as the meat tastes very juicy and light...and really unlike any other meat found in Paorr. It's a shame it's illegal, God Stag must have been a gift from Ofandyr.
It was my antlers that got me into trouble yesterday. So, imagine me, picking some Early Aderford Berries and plopping them into my basket, happy as a Skiic and whistling a tune when suddenly I hear a shout from my left. It was a particularly mean shout, so my instincts forced me to gather that it was either a particularly mean animal...or a figure of authority...which, look, through no fault of my own, I have an issue with. Seems authoritative figures just don't like spunky hunters who will kill off-limit animals for fun – I mean a price. Whatever. So I lean out and look to my left and there he was, a Kuuvian Bobbie shouting to ME for whatever reason and pointing his finger at ME and picking up speed as he was running to ME! Well, unfortunately for him I'm a quick thinker and decided not to find out what I was in trouble for and ran in the opposite direction bobbing in and out of groups of happy berry-pickers and thusly attempting to dodge him by diving through berry bushes. And unfortunately for me this is how I discovered why I was in trouble because in no time my antlers have tangled themselves up in the bush branches and I can't loosen them up in time to escape my foe.
The Bobbie approached me and said some stern words like, “What do you think you're doing wearing those?” and “You're in big trouble, lady.” and other cliché threatening things. He blew his whistle which signaled for back-up to come and surround me so I couldn't escape him while he shackled me up and took me into custody. Which I would've done after a swift kick in the “Kuus” if you know what I mean. First he and one of his lackys cut away at the branches and then they attempted to take my antlers off my head which, haha!, they couldn't do because my mounters have been surgically implanted in my head and I've locked my antlers onto them with a key (an interesting trick I've picked up from other hunters so my antlers don't fall off while on the hunt) that I've left in my pack that I kept hidden, neatly, in the outer forest. So take that, Bobbies!! But that was also my downfall because not only am I an outlaw, I am now technically an illegal artifact until I tell them where the key is so they can take the pieces off my head. Well, call me whatever you want, cousins, you ain't gettin' my antlers!
Eventually I'm taken into holding and they've read off a few pretty sentences to me and their potential jail-time attached to them with ugly, triumphant smirks on their ugly faces. They didn't even let my keep my Early Aderford Berries to eat while I waited for however long they were going to keep me until they moved me to some fancy inner-city jail house.
“Thwumpers...” I mumbled under my breath, kicking the pissing pale to my right and trudging over to the bench, that I guess was supposed to double as a bed.
Hours passed and the sun outside faded into darkness. The only person I saw beside the Bobbies who brought me here was the feeble prisoner who was privileged to light the candles in the hall in shackles. If you call the privileged. He looked at me and huffed in disgust. He left, mumbling something about pretty young Kuuvians doing as a husband tells them and so on. I get that a lot. Even a prisoner can feel more moral than a beautiful female hunter because they will follow societies laws, and what not.
After surpassing some humiliation I pushed my knickers to my ankles and squatted over the pissing pale, ready to pass the few delicious Early Aderford Berries I'd eaten earlier.
“Normally I'd appreciate seeing your ass, Sethe, but not in this context.” Whispered a voice to the left of me, outside my cell.
“Dtruva!” I shouted in contempt, pulling my knickers up and over my God damn head in haste. Only one person has gotten away with calling me by my first name...I shifted on my feet to face Chase staring at me from beyond my cell door.
“Bishop!” I reminded him. “Where the Skret have you been?” I snapped as I settled my belt back in place. “You just left me alone in the night last Moghs and never returned!” Chase Harker had been my hunting mate for many years, the only friend I'd trusted. He had strange abilities that came with strange thought processes, I often found myself wondering if he was Kuuvian at all.
“Sh!” he waved his hand, beckoning me closer to him. I approached him, crossing my arms and mocking anger at him. Chase left me completely alone, in the middle of Skogur, leaving after a brief encounter with two extremely creepy twins. Weeks after he left I learned the two twins were Geovikkan trackers. These terms still don't mean too much to me, but what I was able to gather from other hunters is that a tracker will find a Kuuvian for whatever purpose and bring them back to Rinn, or – in the worst case – kill them. At the time, the twins had told me they were looking for Kuuvians with the same birthmark that Chase and I have, so when I learned they were trackers I had to guess they were tracking people with the birthmark for whatever reason. Like I said, I was only able to gather so much information before the whole trail on trackers went dead. Naturally, I believed he was kidnapped by them because of his mark, or killed even. I looked for him for over a year and eventually gave up and moved on as fast as I could manage. Seeing him now was a mixture of relief, annoyance, uncertainty, and admittedly enthusiasm. I crouched before him, to meet his eyes as he was already crouched – possibly crawling to remain unseen as he found his way to my cell. “What are you doing here?” I whispered.
“I was selling and saw you shipped up here, you skrettin' baorr.” He flicked my nose with his finger tip.
“Did you honestly call me a – wait, selling? What?”
“What do you think? God Stag meat.”
I choked back laughter, “Right here in Falinnbannao?! Ofandyr! In the middle of an event?!” How could he be so stupid, I was shocked.
He scoffed, “Exactly when the best time to be selling it is in the middle of a huge event that gathers thousands of people. Easy money.”
“What are you doing hunting?”
“What kind of a question is that?”
“I mean, I haven't seen you around, where have you been?”
“Up north. Listen, we don't have time to argue about it. I can get you out.” Before I could say a word, the chime of keys interrupted my train of thought as Chase pulled them from behind him and unlocked the cell door. I chose not to ask. “Hurry and follow me.” But I ignored him and ran, crouched, to the window across the hall from my cell. We were two stories high, how was he able to get in here? I turned to him questioningly, but he didn't meet my gaze. He grabbed my wrist instead and led me, tight against the wall, toward another hallway.
In quick, quiet steps I followed him down two more hallways to a window the faced a remote area of Falinnbannao. No guards were near and I assumed this is how he was able to get in. No but how? There was no hill the he could climb and he couldn't scale the walls – and that's when he jumped out the window. He just jumped right out the window! I was too shocked to scream, he committed suicide right in front of me!
I jumped to my feet and looked out the window, concern, horror, and excruciating sadness was taking over.
“Come on, jump!” He yell-whispered at me, standing in complete health on the ground two stories below me. He waved his hand hurriedly and looked around him to make sure there was no one coming.
I couldn't tell him he was fucking crazy and I was going to die because someone would hear me. I just shook my head.
“Give me a break, Sethe! Jump out the skretting window!”
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. It was all I could do to not tell him how much of an asshole he was. I climbed onto the window, counted to three, closed my eyes, and jumped. And landed heavy on my right knee. I heard a snap and pain shot through my right side, water burst from my eyes uncontrollably and I clutched onto my knee and cried and yelled.
“Shut up! Shut up!” Chase yell-whispered. He lifted me up in his arms and leaned my weight against his chest and forearms, he ran out of the clearing and went straight into the woods.
I was drifting in and out of consciousness, but I remember seeing the moon under the trees. I remember faintly hearing yelling, and I remember Chase carrying me effortlessly through the woods for what seemed like forever until eventually I had passed out.
When I came too, it was morning – this morning – and I was asleep in my own camp among my own bedding. My leg had been wrapped. I examined the wrappings, opening the bandages around my knee to see the damage. My knee was red and there was a large gash where I must have split open my skin and lost blood. I poked the redness, it was sore and painful I hissed and rewrapped the bandages. Gingerly, I applied weight to my leg. I could definitely walk, at least eventually, but I was too sore to do it now and it hurt to much to walk on it.
I opened the flap to my tent to see if Chase was by the fire, he wasn't. He was nowhere to be seen, in fact, but he had left me water and food. I huffed and sat back, crossing my arms in frustration. Gone again. He had better be hunting or selling. From there I drifted in and out of sleep until just now I woke to add this to my journal.
I'm not sure if I should be happy or nervous that Chase is back. I had gone so long without him, and most troubling was that he was able to make that jump without harm and carry me to my camp with ease. Not that he isn't a strong man, but I can't wrap my head around his being able to survive that jump unscathed.
Reisday, Early Firch 1895
A week later and a new month and season has begun. No, but before I get lost in talk over nature like the little wild fool that I am, I have to finish up what had happened after Chase broke me out of prison.
After I had finished writing my entry last, I crawled out of my tent careful not to hurt my bad knee and made another fire. I watched the sky as I chewed on some Skiic meat, having myself a think on the day and Chase. That's when I heard snapping behind me, like someone stepped on twigs with a heavy footfall. I jerked my head toward the sound and watched as Chase approached the fire and sat beside me. He had a heavy purse and bundles of Skiic corpses.
“Oh you were selling and hunting all day?” Of course he was, I was relieved he hadn't abandoned me so quickly after our reuniting with a bad knee.
“Yea, what else would I be doing?” He dropped the corpses beside him and fell to sit on the ground beside me. He sighed heavily, as if he was releasing the entire day out into the air. Less than a second later, he pulled my knee from its rested spot onto his lap and began to unwind the bandages.
“Hey! Hey! Gentle!” I urged, nearly choking on my meat. He eyed me, as if he was observing a painting. With careful regard yet slightly uninterested. His gaze dropped back to my knee and he continued to unwrap the bandages.
“You cut your leg open when you fell and dislocated your knee. I was able to pop your knee back in place, I put some of those weeds you showed me on your cut and wrapped them up so they would help you heal. But when I checked them I saw they were giving you a bad reaction and took them off.”
“Although I appreciate your help, I think you seriously put Tagweed on my cut you fucking idiot. I'm allergic to it and it looks similar to the weeds that help heal.” I smacked the side of his head.
He clutched his head where I hit, “Hey, ow!” But he sort of chuckled after and wrapped my leg back up. “Well I think you're healing fine anyway.” He placed my leg back in front of me.
“Alright, I'm going to try to hunt tomorrow on it.”
“I mean, I can't stop you, but I wouldn't.”
After that we sat in silence for what felt like an eternity. I chewed on my meat slowly until eventually I ate it all. And then we sat in silence some more. Eventually I gathered the courage to ask, “Where have you been for the past year? I had been so worried since our encounter with Foster and Castor, I thought they kidnapped you or killed you.”
He looked into the fire and shrugged, “They tried to, actually. But I escaped. I spent some time getting them off my trail and then eventually found myself picking up odd jobs and earning money again.”
“It was pretty shitty of you to forget about me.”
His gaze snapped at me, “No, I hadn't! I just didn't want to accidentally lead those two to you. I worry about it now.
“Oh shove it, I can hold my own and you know it.”
“No I don't, and I was especially worried about Castor.”
“The guy is a creep, but he's not too strong for me, I'll beat him up!”
“Sethe, stop arguing with me about it!”
“Bishop!” I corrected him out of anger.
He sighed obnoxiously, stood up, and went into the tent. I crossed my arms and stared at the fire, resolved to pout on my own until it died out. I could buy that he would spend the last year on his own, hunting and selling, but I simply could not accept that he wouldn't find me and tell me that he was ok after that horrifying experience with the twins. In fact, I was livid that he hadn't made any attempt to resolve that with me while I spent so long actually looking for him.
Eventually the fire did die. I grabbed a handful of dirt and covered the embers with them and then crawled into the tent. Chase was asleep in the far end of the tent, so I gathered up my bedding and positioned myself as far away from him, as close to the other side of the tent as I could manage. I was so angry with him, I didn't even want to sleep in the same tent as him.
I woke up as the sun did, before Chase had. And I knew this because in the night Chase had rolled over and held me from behind in his sleep. I wanted to shimmy out of his grip, still angry with him, but at the same time I was still very glad to be near him again and maybe the night of sleep helped me cool off from the night before. It was, reluctantly, good to be near him, so I laid in bed for a few minutes longer and let him hold me.
Ah, but heck, that didn't last long and I was getting fed up all over again. So much for romance. Oh eck, I am cringing at the thought of being romantic with Chase as I write this. So I pulled from his hold and got out of my bedding, which woke him up. We silently woke ourselves up and chewed on some jerky for breakfast. We packed up the tent, and headed on our way. And this is how it was for a couple days. Nearly silent, except for when I asked him again what he had been doing which ended in an argument and we never approached the subject again.
But a couple nights ago we were sitting by the fire, the night was full of stars, I remember we were in a clearing and I laid on my back and made out constellations. My leg was feeling better and I spent the day hunting by myself while Chase went to Fotur to sell.
“Did you catch anything?” Chase asked me.
I didn't sit up from my laying position, “I saw a God Stag, but I didn't hit it.”
Chase chuckled, “I can't believe it.”
“Well it was on purpose!” I said defensively, “It was watching a doe and I felt maternal because it was clearly pregnant. So I let it go.”
He laughed through his nose at this. I sat up on my elbows and looked at him, “Well what did you sell today?” again, talking defensively.
“All of it!” He responded, proudly. “Oh, in the center of town there was a small folk band playing.” He changed the subject, “They had dancers, and two of the dancers were dressed as sharks!”
“Haha, what? Sharks?” I was amused and shocked, “Why?”
“Well the subject of the song was sharks and they were up there dancing, and I think the left shark was confused and he started doing his own thing completely off rhythm to the music! He was shaking around and dancing very strangely, the whole crowd was laughing and he was the best part of the show!”
“I can't believe it!” I laughed.
“I'm wholly serious!” He said and laughed out loud, the deepest gut laughter, I assumed at just the thought of it. I was laughing along, until the gleam of the fire caught my eye to his teeth. I hadn't noticed it before and it took me a minute to process what I was seeing. I even blinked to be sure I wasn't imagining things. His teeth were completely sharpened. Every single tooth in Chase's mouth was sharpened to a point. I couldn't believe I hadn't noticed before. I stopped laughing then, I hesitated for a second and then jumped to my feet.
Why were his teeth sharp like that? How could I not have noticed? Chase looked at me and his expression changed from bemused to serious. I looked at him longer, confused and upset. His teeth were exactly – exactly – the same as Castor's.
“Teeth.” I said under my breath, like it was the only word I could think of, and I was too anxious to speak any louder. But I didn't have too, Chase knew exactly what I was referring to. “Teeth...” I said again, I had no other thought in my head, until it hit me. I spat at him, “Where have you been the last year?” I said louder, more angry.
The spit landed beside him and he watched it land before he calmly stood up. He attempted to approach me then but I backed off, I put my hand up, “Don't you step any closer to me. Where have you been?”
“Up north. I wasn't lying.”
“Up north!” I shouted, “In Rinn!”
At this he laughed out loud, this time letting his teeth shine. This caught me off guard and I stepped back again, tripping on my heel and falling back. But Chase caught me and pulled me to him, embracing me but pulling at my hair from the scalp so he could see my face full on. I pushed against his chest and tried to free my head from his grip, but he held on tighter.
“What are you a fucking tracker now?!” I shouted, “You're one of them?! You're a Geovikkan?” I spat again, this time on his face directly, he flinched slightly but didn't even let go of me to wipe his face, “You make me fucking sick! Let me go!” I screamed.
“Shut up, Sethe!” He yelled.
“Fuck, fuck. Let me go!” and I pushed against him harder.
“Sethe, listen. You'd love it. You have to come with me to Rinn,” he tried to explain, “They're completely right! Everything they've said and done, it's all true! Their Gods exist and one of them is here now! He is trying to Become!” He was getting more and more excited as he went on, breathless and his eyes filled with frenzy.
“Blasphemy!” I shouted, “Ofandyr would never allow it!” I shut my eyes tightly and prayed while Chase went on and on about the Geovikkan God Szcyth'Ogg and how it inhabits bodies and how Kuuvians with our birthmark are vessels for the God.
“We're special! We're the Chosen Ones!” Chase shouted, his voice was crazy and shaking and changing pitches.
“Stop! Stop!” I wanted him to let me go, and I fought for it, but he was now laughing and actually hugging me. The only thing I could think of was to knee him in his crotch so the pain would take his attention away from me, which it did and he fell back cupping himself and crying.
“Chase.” I wiped my mouth from the saliva that gathered in the corner of my lips as I screamed. But I had nothing to say, I was scared and angry. The Geovikkans stole my friend. They took him from me and they turned him against me. Chase had been different, Chase is different. He's wrong and he's gone. My best friend is gone. I had no time to gather many of my things before Chase was starting to come too, so I picked up my bow and my purse and I ran. I didn't look back.
I could hear Chase calling my name in the distance, for a while it sounded like he was only right behind me, chasing after me, but eventually it died away and diminished. But I didn't feel safe anyway, I kept running. I ran until my knee started to give way, and then I ran some more, until eventually I found my way to Fotur. I pitched myself up in an inn there to hide and sleep, but I couldn't sleep. I was miserable and angry and angry and angry. The more I sat up and thought about it the more angry I became.
I've been traveling north to Nuukviaan these past two days since I ran from Chase. I made sure to travel as strangely as possible, not in a direct path and never leaving a fire behind. I had to purchase a new tent and bedding when I was in Fotur. When I get to Nuukviaan I will worship in the shrine I grew up worshiping in. I need to be closer to home, I need to pray.
Tamarusday, Early Firch 1895
I still have a lot more traveling to go before I reach Nuukviaan, but it's been a week since my last entry. I'll keep this short, it's mid day and I will get some hunting done before I pitch tent. I haven't seen Chase since I left him, but I have made a clear decision to kill any Geovikkan I come across.
I'm making this claim now, and I mean it. I will kill any Geovikkan I see as I travel onward, this is my pledge until the day I die.
I will literally eat every single Geovikkan I see. I will eat them alive. I will stab them in the stomach so they slowly bleed out, slow enough not to kill them for hours, but still in the right place to kill them. I will start by removing their extremities so they can't fight back or run away. I will cut the fat from their hips and thighs, I will make the watch me as I cook their meat over a fire and eat them alive.
Mohday, mid Firch 1895
Ahaha! (yea I know, I literally wrote “hahaha” like that's something you actually write down. But you'll be laughing with me! I was just opening the door to suggestion.) Ok, do you remember in my last two entries how I mentioned I was tracking a Geovikkan up the west coast? Well when I just passed Viakaan I caught him! Oh I was so excited. Ah it was almost by accident, too – which is much to my chagrin because I had worked so hard to track him down.
I had just packed up my things after camping outside of Viakaan and I was only steps into my hike toward Nuukviaan when I heard footfalls ahead of me. Since Aderford is making its way into Oforand, the snow is melting gingerly and some of the greenery that makes a brief appearance in Kuu during Oforand was showing through. It's more common to see green fields, green trees, flowers, and warm weather in the southern part of Kuu. However, the snow sometimes gives up in northern Kuu and we experience a fair Oforand in Nuukviaan and Baangusta. Because of this, the snow was not numbing the sound of animals and people around me. Usually my hearing and sight adapts to the gray scenery and the muffled sounds in the snow, making it more sensitive to it all when Oforand rolls about.
This gives me an advantage and I heard the man far before he even knew I was in the wood with him, of course! When I hear his footfalls I crouch low so I'm below his eye height. This gives me time to try and see him before he can see me, and I do. I notice him nearly right away as a black splot in the distance with small red splots throughout. I duck behind a large tree near me and climb it as quietly as I can. Now I'm above him and there's less chance of him catching me.
I can barely contain my enthusiasm, my adrenaline and getting higher as I imagine catching him and killing him. I had been watching him in and out of two days and he's literally within enough distance of me to get him! Even more thrilling, he's walking toward me and I don't have to do anything! It's easily the most excited I had been in months.
I keep my body very still and my breathing as hollow and quiet as I can manage. He's nearly under me, my plan is to climb down behind him and grab him from behind. However, just as he's right under me I hear a loud SNAP! And then a CRACK! He hears it too and looks up to see me just in time for the branch I'm leaning on to break and fall, taking me down with it! I sucked in a deep breath of air from the shock and weightlessness of falling, afraid to hurt the knee that had only just healed. But I was lucky, because the Geovikkan had broken my fall and myself and the branch landed right on top of him. It didn't knock him out, though, and he began to moan and groan from the pain of mine and the branches weight.
I didn't hesitate, I crawled off of his body and behind his head. Sitting behind him I pulled him up to me, which was a bit of a challenge with the branch weighing him down and with him attempting to pull against me (no doubt because I was using his jawbones as a grip to pull him closer to me). When I had him in a good position I wrapped one arm around his throat and pulled up, not trying to kill him but instead knock him unconscious. After a quick struggle the man wordlessly slipped into a sleep.
I removed the branch from his body and knelt over him, straddling his limp body so I could get a good look at him face. He had darker colored skin than usual – but I noticed this with several Geovikkans – and strange tribal markings on his face. Not traditional Raou or Blaar (and it's pretty rare to see Blaar tribals wearing their markings), but I had remembered some of them on both Castor and Foster. Castor and Foster only had sparse markings on their face, just on the forehead, and I remember thinking that they had probably forgotten to clean them off and that they were some tradition I didn't know about. Now I feel foolish, knowing all I do about them. I noticed the tribal markings reached far below his neck so I pulled open his shirt to examine the markings on his collarbone and chest. They all met at an intricate tattoo over his heart. I shrugged and made a mental note of it before putting his clothes back in place.
After poking and prodding at the rest of his body for whatever, and checking his teeth to see if they were sharp (they weren't), I grabbed his feet and dragged him further into the forest. Then I built up my tent and bedding, now complete with some furs I had lost since running from Chase. It was still morning time, so I bound his legs and arms to the best of my abilities and left him inside the tent. Only then had I realized I didn't want his filthy body contaminating my bedding and necessaries, so I bundled that back up and left it in the corner, making sure he's as uncomfortable as possible.
For the next few hours I hunted, ate, read, and now I'm adding this to my journal. I plan to kill him and cook him tonight or tomorrow. This is extremely exciting, I can barely contain it! Seriously, as I write this I'm unable to sit still and my smile is stretched so wide I swear I can feel it hitting the bottom of my ears! He's my first Geovikkan to start my extermination. Oh, I had thought about leaving the body for other Geovikkan's to find, too. As long as I cover up any evidence leading back to me, I can even leave some sort of calling card. This way, every victim they find they'll see the same something on it that points them to the same soldier of Ofandyr wiping these worms from existence. But what should I leave? I still have a few hours before dusk and he hasn't woken up yet so I have time to think about it!
Eeee!! That's me writing down another sound coming from my mouth! Haha! Eee!