Origins: Calm Before the Storm

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Origins: Calm Before the Storm

Post by Coconutly on Sat Dec 12, 2015 8:25 pm

Land of Water
Kurototsu Forest
Ryoku Base

The night air felt colder than usual. It held a bitterness that stung with each inhale and chilled the marrow in her bones. Even the creatures fell silent on this night, all of them tucked away in their nests and dens, retreating from the danger that lurked in the darkness. The ivory of Saia’s delicate nose and cheeks was stained pink as if pinched by the cold. Long locks of emerald hair cascaded down her shoulders and back, framing a thoughtful expression. Her figure was lit only by the dim firelight that filtered through the slit of a window beside the balcony. The claustrophobic canopy of towering evergreens shrouded the Ryoku base from the moonlight, even most of the sunlight. The tree trunks, like prison bars, were scattered in all directions for as far as the eye could see. It felt as though there was nothing beyond them - no hope for redemption, only punishment. This was her fate now, the fate she deserved. This was her true home - the home where she would raise her son and the home she would fight to defend. It was the only one she had left…

She closed her eyes, imagining the low rumble of the waves crashing upon the shore. She was able to recreate the sound so perfectly in her mind despite how long it had been since she had heard its comforting lull. Seven years, two months, and four days since Saia had inhaled its the salty aroma and relished in its moist breeze; longer still since she had felt the warmth of his touch… She drew in a long breath and released it before opening her eyes once more. So lost in her thoughts, she hadn’t realized the tear that had escaped through the corner of her eye until the cold breeze brushed the trail it left on her cheek. She wiped it away, taking a moment to feel it in her hand. She couldn’t remember how long it had been since those eyes had shed a genuine tear.

“There’s no need to hide, Hisoka. You’re welcome to join me.”

The small boy emerged from the shadow behind her and approached her side, not once taking his eyes from her. “I wasn’t hiding, mom,” he corrected impatiently. “‘Cause if I was hiding, you wouldn’t’ve been able to find me,” he said with all the naive arrogance of a toddler boy. She smiled but didn’t look at him. She couldn’t, not yet. He reached up and wrapped his fingers around one of her’s. His hands felt so tiny, so warm like his father’s. The following pause was filled in with the chirping crickets. “Are you sad because of me?” He finally asked. Now she looked at him, desperately holding back the emotions that brimmed just beneath her stoic facade. His precious expression melted her own as she stared back into his bright eyes. “Are you sad because of what I did today?” He asked again, guilt weighing on his words.

She held their eye contact a long while before she lightly shook her head. “No. You never make me sad.” Despite her resolve, her voice sounded more broken than she intended. She wrapped her hand around his and held it tightly. He furrowed his brow and looked out, trying to figure out why his mother had been staring at a boring bunch of nothing for so long.

“What about when I put that big bug in your shirt?” He looked up at her mischievously. She allowed a wide smile to warm her expression.

“I didn’t say you couldn’t make me mad,” she playfully corrected. He giggled devilishly in memory of the moment. Then she was serious. “I’m certainly not happy about what you did today--"

“But it’s not my fault! He deserved it! He was being a butthead!” The young boy’s voice rang out in defense. He had torn his hand away from hers and was hammering the air with it as he spoke. Saia tilted her head, looking down at him with stoic disappointment for his choice of words. Apparently frustrated, he folded his arms over each other in a huff and looked away dramatically. “He called you a traitor…” He blinked back up at her, expecting understanding. “So you see I just had to hit him in the face! It was the right thing to do, mom,” he said matter-of-factly, referring to a passing lesson of morality Saia had shared with him not to long ago. She knew what her people thought of her. She felt that pain everyday. But she wished, more than anything, that Hisoka didn’t have to be subject to it as well. She wished that he didn’t have to know the truth. She wished she could keep it from him forever.

Gently, she pet his head of untamed white hair. “I don’t doubt that he deserved it.” Her voice was a coo, resigned and calm. “But you know what you did wrong. And I know you won’t do it again. Right?” Lovingly, she slid her hand down the back of his neck and came to rest on his shoulder. She squeezed it lightly, urging him to meet her gaze once again and see the love she wanted him to feel. Lip still pouting, he nodded and she pulled him in closer. He allowed it, falling into an embrace against her hip.

They both stood in silence gazing out into the night before Hisoka spoke again. “Momma… was Matsuki-kun extrapated?” Saia’s head snapped to look at him, her expression tightened with concern. Her sudden movement caused Hisoka to look up at her. The word was mis-pronounced but she recognized its meaning. Extirpate /ˈekstərˌpāt/ verb: root out and destroy completely. The word took root in the Ryoku clan during the time of the divide - the beginning of the war for freedom. It was adopted by separatists in political rallies against the suppression enforced by the Shikigami leaders. As the civil dispute descended to the point of terrorism, grave threats were issued and the nightmares that conspirators were becoming a reality. Now, the word was used to explain how the Ryoku deal with their problems. It was a threat of what the Ryoku were capable of to any member that betrayed them or stepped outside the bounds of the code. She knew he didn't know any of this yet and she couldn't help but feel grateful for that. “Hina-sensei said that’s what happens to shinobi that don’t follow the code… like me.” Her brow furrowed in pain. His inquiry drove nails through her heart. Something roiled deep within her, a primal protectiveness that encouraged an anger that burned with the hottest flame. She hated that they threatened him, hurt him, and used him. But no amount of hatred could change what she had done. She owed them her life as well as the many lives that were lost because of her and there was no changing that. Her mistake had resulted in yet another genocide of her own people. Saia was the soul survivor, spared by love, and left to live with the weight of what she lost. “Am I gunna be extrapated because of what I did?” He asked, genuinely concerned.

She knelt beside him, her hands in a tight grip on either of his shoulders. “I will not let them do that to you, Hisoka. Do you understand me?” Her eyes penetrated his with intensity. “I will always make sure that you’re safe. No matter what.” Wide cat-like eyes stared back at her and he nodded. Burying her feelings, she smiled and loosened her grip. As if empathetically copying her, he smiled back. She leaned forward and kissed him delicately on the forehead. He groaned, his face scrunching into a disgusted frown as he wiped the kiss off his forehead with the back of his hand. She tapped her cheek, implying that he needed to return the favor. He folded his arms and huffed stubbornly. “Alright, fine. I guess you don’t want any mochi then,” she said with a shrug. The young boy’s expression ignited with excitement at the mention of the sweet treat. He bobbed impatiently, considering his options. She tapped again and, begrudgingly, he gave up a quick peck before darting for the door.

“Now mochi, mom! Mochi, mochi! I want mochi!” Slowly shaking her head she followed him in with a smile.


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