Gotha date; RH

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Escape from the dark side
03-07-2019, 10:10 PM
Post: #1
Escape from the dark side
OOG note: none of the info in this storyline is common knowledge on Gotha, it isn't even available as intel among security services. Not even the Vittmarkers know about this.

Carls Nybygge, January 7580

Peter Petterson saw Ella approaching the airfield in front of the Residency.
”You called for me, sir,” she said when she was within hearing distance.
”I did. Or in fact, someone else did. I see you brought your overnight?” He pointed at her little suitcase.

The conversation was interrupted by 24 militiamen who were preparing for the airship's landing procedure. They moved the dozen or so people who were awaiting the arrival of the airship Keisare Karl to the other side of the field. Petterson wasn't explaining any more, he was exchanging some chit chat with Ella while the airship docked. He didn't even look out for whatever visitor he was expecting while chatting. And Ella still had no idea why she had been summoned. But she was in federal service as the main housekeeper of the policing station, so she just obliged.

After all the other passengers had gone, two federal soldiers disembarked. They made eye contact with Petterson but quickly shifted their attention to the dissipating crowd. Only then the guest herself disembarked. She was wearing a short, light blue jacket and had her hair tied up in a ponytail right on top of her head. With one hand she adjusted her glasses, while she had a baby on her other arm. The soldiers were carrying two light suitcases.

”Peter, Ella,” she casually greeted.
”Your majesty,” Petterson replied.
”No, it's Anna, just Anna. I assume the trimaran is waiting?”
”It is. Just follow me.”
”Ehm...” Ella interrupted, ”where are we going?”
”Ny Skiöldavik,” Anna replied.

A belly full of surprises
Off the coast of Gilles Carls, couple of hours later

”May I enquire what Her Majesty is planning to do in Ny Skiöldavik?” Ella asked.
”It's Anna... and I'm going to do two things. Take good care of Kolgard, because he is still depending on me, and nothing.”
Ella looked puzzled.
”I know, that might seem difficult, but I'm going to try to do my best and not do a single thing. And your job is to help me with that.”

A familiar figure was waiting on the landing pier of Ny Skiöldavik. Even she had a child in one hand, but this one was big enough to stand on her own. Chopper had mastered one line in Wortsproke and it was appropriate here.
”On behalf of the Kakuri people, Kirisaki Koga of the Nokumo Nobono welcomes Her Majesty...”
”Matte...” Anna interrupted with one of the few Kakuri words she knew. ”Ie Pino. Ie... Anna-chan desu.”
”Konnichewa, Anna-chan,” Chopper changed her tone, ”ohayo, Koregaru.” This was a very casual greeting, including a self introduction to Anna's baby. ”Koru desu E'ba-chan,” she continued, now assuming that Anna had mastered her language. But that was far from the truth. Anna had picked up some standard expressions, mainly from Moa's lady in waiting Arimu, but a conversation was still way beyond her skill set.

Anna noticed Chopper's belly, she was about 4 or 5 (Orkanan) months pregnant. She did a quick calculation. There was always the option that she was carrying a child from a local Kakuri man, but knowing her husband Palne all too well, chances were pretty big that this was the result of his visit in May. Suddenly she understood why Chopper was awaiting her, on her own, without any of the other Nokumo Nobono members present. She wasn't hiding her pregnancy and wanted Anna to know.

Nearly two years ago Anna had approved of the unusual request that Chopper had made. The result was standing next to her, a child called Eba. A second child was not part of the arrangement however. Without thinking further, Anna stretched out one flat hand towards Chopper's belly, indicating that she wanted to touch it. Chopper grabbed both her hands and put them on her baby bulge. She was showing a glowing aura that only certain pregnant women could radiate.

That's when Anna felt some jealousy creeping in. She was not jealous about the pregnancy itself, about Chopper once again carrying her husband's child, or so she assumed. No, it was Chopper herself, all glowing, energetic, glad, smiling... She compared her with herself. Around the 4th month of being pregnant with Kolgard she had turned into this crippled, always tired, frowning grumpy old woman. And now she was confronted by someone who managed herself through pregnancy in a more dignified way. As if she wasn't depressed enough already.

Then she knew exactly what to do. Give her a long and firm hug. She knew that Chopper would hate that. Why feel miserable on your own if you could share it? But Chopper had changed, she replied with an evenly firm hug while chatting away in Kakuri. That somehow comforted Anna nevertheless. If Chopper could change her mindset, then so could she.

VITTMARK:"This mess is a place." --- FISKS:"Fisk you!"
03-11-2019, 08:54 AM
Post: #2
RE: Escape from the dark side

The morning sun was the best sun to enjoy. Around noon the sun was more like a copper cooker, but right now it was bearable. Anna reclined in her deckchair on the jetty of Ny Skiöldavik.
”This is just like cruising the high seas. Reminds me a bit of the sailing trip we took with Marius *. But then without having to leave the port, thus avoiding sea sickness.”
This was more or less an introduction for Ella, who was sitting beside her, still not knowing what the purpose of this all was.

“Everything that happens here is classified, OK?” Anna continued. “I am here for some time on my own. Don't know if you have ever tried being the monarch of a country... It sucks the life lust from your bones. I'm taking a time-out.”

Ella had no idea how to reply. ”I see,” she tried.
”I don't know how you are with small children...”
”There weren't many around in the Residency household. How about practicalities? Eating, washing, clothing, bathing...”
”That's why you're here. Not to take care of all of that, but to point out that this is an issue.”
The Anna noticed Petterson passing by.
“Petterson, do you have the time to sit with us for a while?”

”Of course.”
”I wanted to ask you something. What is the matter with our first?” Anna asked while nodding towards Chopper without mentioning her name.
”She's pregnant,” Petterson stated the obvious.
”Vald on a stick... I would never have guessed... What I mean is, she's here, on her own, not making an attempt to communicate on any sensible level, and she's not in a hurry to get back to Toshi-bu. Are there some developments in the local leadership I have missed?”

”It is something that struck us over here as well, already a couple of weeks ago. First we thought it was her pregnancy, it is known that it could change one's mood...” Petterson quickly put a hand in front of his mouth. ”I'm sorry, I wasn't implying...”
”We weren't talking about me.”
”Our assumption is that the first is unhappy with the leadership status. This is a controversial group with half bloods and some people with unusual bed manners. So their support is always in danger. If I understood Shay-na's explanation well, she is tired of it. She has brought security to the people, she's partially responsible for the liberation of the 50 Kakuri living here, she set an example by giving birth, she tied firm connections to the royal family and their performances only seem to get better. Still there is a large group opposing their rule.”

”Have there been any attempts...”
”That is a curious thing. There are more educated and trained administrators and performers. They all seem loyal to the Noku... the leadership. There is no one willing to take over. Among colleagues and possible competitors there is huge respect. But it is still frustrating her...”

Anna was hesitating now. She was here to do nothing, and absolutely nothing. But she was tempted to help a friend of the family in some or the other way.



Shay-na sat herself down next to Anna near the fireplace on the junction between the floating and fixed part of Ny Skiöldavik. The settlement was half built on stilts and half on floating barges, the connecting point was the only place with a stone surface, suitable for a fireplace.

The queen had been really successful in spending the day really busy doing nothing.
”The only Kakuri from Hagen,” Anna jokingly greeted her.
”You asked for me?”
”Remember that I am here as a private person? This means I don't ask for you, this means that I let you know I'd like to talk to you. Person to person. Listen... It has been Her Majesty's decision that the Nokumo Nobono will receive noble titles. Urashinu received her grade as Baroness already in May last year. I would like your help in handing out the other titles.”

”Of course...”
”I want to do it in Kakuri...”
”Oj... it is... you know... can not give you language.”
”I know. I can tell you what I know, then we can make something that fits my skills.”

Shay-na frowned.
”Yatte imasu (I am trying),” Anna continued in Kakuri. ”But I need to know what the status is on Kirisaki.”
”Status?” Shay-na wondered.
”Yes... Petterson told me she is frustrated with the lack of acceptance of their leadership.”
”Frus...” Even Shay-na's language skills still had some gaps.
”Unhappy, but not being able to do something about it.”
”Ah, yes... true... There is something else. Members of the Nokumo Nobono... they start to give Kirisaki... name...”
”A name? But she already has a name.”
”I mean... name, like Majesty, or Baroness.”
”Ah, a title... which one?”
”Kamisama,” Shay-na replied a bit hesitative.
”What does it mean?”
”Lady of the spirits of our deceased fathers' and mothers' fathers and mothers... It has not been used for over 100 cycles.”
”Is that good or bad?” Anna wanted to know.

”Well, good... most of it...”
”So let me get this straight, administrators and performers from other blades, they have the highest respect for the Nokumo Nobono, and within the Nokumo Nobono they have the highest respect for Chopper... Kirisaki...”
”And she is worried about...”
”The people not supporting her.”

”Why?” Anna asked. But Shay-na didn't understand the question. Or didn't know how to answer it.
”Why care about opinions or regards of people who have a low opinion of you? What's the use?”
”You ask Kirisaki.”

”My Kakuri isn't that good.”
”Ah, right... yes...”

VITTMARK:"This mess is a place." --- FISKS:"Fisk you!"
03-11-2019, 10:50 PM
Post: #3
RE: Escape from the dark side
The Kakuri and panic attacks

Anna awoke on the fourth day of her stay. Including air travel, she now had spent almost a week on her own. She still heard this inner voice singing ”I'm nothing, I'm no one”... it clouded her judgement and her mood. But occasionally she could lift herself above it. Especially in unexpected situations. Although she shut down completely half the time as well.

”Owayo...” Chopper coughed and tried again with a voice instead of a rasp. ”Owayo!”
”Konnichiwa, kamisama,” Anna replied.
Chopper sat up abruptly and started a deep bow. ”Heika...”

”It is time for you to go home,” Anna continued in Wortsproke. ”It seems you're using me as an excuse to avoid your own people up the mountain, if I have been informed correctly. It's time we get up there and tell them they can stick it where the sun doesn't shine.”

”We, as in us as well?” Ella wondered.
”It wasn't exactly planned, but then again, if you intend to do nothing, then you shouldn't be planning at all. I don't know if I can visit Toshi-bu as a person, not as the queen. It works here, so far...”

”Heika?” Chopper repeated.
”Anate... watashi... Toshi-bu!” Anna tried to explain.
”Neeeeee!!” she replied with her voice pitching upwards all the time. Anna interpreted it as that she agreed, any denial would have a different intonation.

The platoon commander was less enthusiastic. ”It is much more difficult to safeguard Her Ladyship's security.”
”What kind of security is in place?” Anna enquired.
”None. We have a squad near the airfield, that is two hours from Toshi-bu. There usually is a squad in the town, ready to replace them, or they are the squad returning from the assignment. The Kakuri have their own swordbearers of course, and there's Jinsoku...”
”A native girl who has been enlisted in Fjällsta Affirmation. She is the entire police force, although she has no clue about which laws she has to enforce. Usually she hangs around the swordbearers.”

”So what are the risks?”
The sergeant improvised an assessment.
”It's a rather quiet society, but there are the occassional fistfights, domestic disputes, a couple of people with mental disorders, just like any village actually.”
Anna thought it would be funny if she could temporarily add one more mentally unstable person to the population. Herself... She had not had any of her panic attacks nor unstoppable crying episodes yet. It might be embarrassing in Ny Skiöldavik, but she had no idea how Kakuri society would respond to it. Did the Kakuri suffer from panic attacks?

Is joke

Anna was now regretting her decision to walk towards Toshi-bu. It was not as easy as she had expected. Having spent months in bed had had serious repercussions on her fitness. Or lack thereof. Instead of worrying about security issues, she had better spent some time training her legs and overall physique to manage such a walk. She knew her body would ache the rest of the day, and probably the day after as well. But somehow it was reassuring to look forward to pain that was caused by physical action, not by feeling miserable and tired in general.

The Kakuri in Toshi-bu had not had much time to prepare for the unexpected royal guest. Chopper and two soldiers had skipped a break and had arrived about 45 minutes before Anna. So there was a welcoming committee at the central pavillion, but they hadn't dressed up for the occasion.

”Sano,” she addressed Flower in Cheltai, ”I am not here as the Queen of Vittmark. I am Anna av Kulla, on my own.” She wanted to test how much Cheltai she knew.
”Yes... Same person... Not same visit.”
Well, they could communicate. Even Anna did not practice her Cheltai on a daily base, but she had learned it during childhood while her family was living in exile in Amberia.

Then she greeted Little Finger in her native tongue. It was a bit easier to explain to her, since their vocabularies were much larger. It was obvious that Little Finger had difficulty to understand the difference.
”I want to be treated like any other person,” Anna said.
”So... then you can turn around,” Little Finger replied, ”because only federal soldiers and people from Fiyerrusta...” Anna looked at her. In fact, Little Finger was correct, there was a visiting restriction to the Kakuri territory.
”Is joke,” Little Finger continued, when she noticed the hesitation on Anna's face.
”Ah, right. Where is Nenne?” Anna changed the subject.
”Work. Alone. Elsewhere.”

Surprise was standing there with a copy of the Third Era Exemplars volume in Anisoran.
”You come for book?” she asked in broken Anisoran. She had gotten the book on loan half a year earlier, when she had visited Vittmark.
”Later,” she replied in Auresian. ”How is it going?”
”Difficult... I am well, but book, difficult.”
”You are doing well. We can talk with each other.”
”Hai,” she replied quickly in Kakuri.

Orange tried in Hallish, but Anna had not mastered much from that language. It was a niche language anyway, even smaller than Wortsproke. But you had to admire Orange for trying. It was thanks to her language skills that the Kakuri established first contact.

Finally she greeted Green. ”Konnichiwa, Midori-san.”
”Kangei Tori to Tatakau...” Green replied.
”Arigato. Demo... Anna-chan desu, ie Tori to Tatakau.” (”Thank you, but... I am Anna, not Fighting Bird”)
For a short while, Green did not know how to respond and just gazed at Anna, her mouth half open. Then she uttered the same stretched ”Neeeeee....” Chopper had half-yelled a couple of hours before. ”Tatakau Tori o, Anna-chan, onaji kuso.”

Everybody started to laugh, except for the Vittmarker guests.
”I get 'onaji', the same,” she tried to explain to Little Finger, ”but 'kuso'?”
”Comes from backside of animal.”
”Haaaaaaa,” Anna confirmed that she got it now.

VITTMARK:"This mess is a place." --- FISKS:"Fisk you!"
03-12-2019, 09:11 PM
Post: #4
RE: Escape from the dark side
The muscular one

Linnea Blåis, the anthropologist who had settled in Toshi-bu permanently, hurried herself towards the pavillion once she heard Queen Anna had arrived. She found the company preparing for dinner at the pavillion.
”Your Majesty, I was unaware...”
But Anna interrupted her.
”It's Anna av Kulla, I'm not here as the Queen of Vittmark. This is a private visit. It's good to see you though, how are you doing?”

”I'm fine... doing well...”
”I know I show up unannounced, tell me… how do I arrange for accomodation, should I be using the military compound, do they invite me to their home... It's only when I arrived here that I became aware that I am not used to thinking about these matters myself. I don't want to impose myself...”
”Just tell the Nokumo you will be using the cabin the military are using. If they want to offer you something better, or more personal, it is up to them.”

Anna hesitated about whom to address. If she had been informed correctly, the three children of the Nokumo Nobono were in joint custody by Chopper, Green, Orange and Flower. She wanted to communicate with more Kakuri than just Little Finger, and Flower was the only one of the mothers.

”Sano-san, I am going to the soldier's house. Kolgard needs to eat,” she said in Cheltai.
”Ie, ie...” Flower replied in Kakuri, ”Anate, anate, zehi!!” She pointed at Ella as well and gestured them to follow her. She was leading them towards a smaller dwelling, a single room cubical house, about 4 by 4 metres. There were some thin mattresses on the ground, some pillows, a couple of oil lamps.
Doit'sh'mash'te,” Flower said after she had opened the half door.
Mizu (water),” she explained when she showed the bamboo tap near the side window.
Hikari (light),” she pointed at the lamps. ”Hai?”

”Hai, arigatou,” Anna replied. Flower gave her a heavy pillow, filled with some hard plant material which made it firm.
”Arm, child, up this,” Flower continued in basic Cheltai. Anna sat down, folded her legs and got Kolgard from the hip cloth she had been keeping him in most of the day. The little guy woke up and indeed was feeling hungry.
”Outside,” Flower quickly said before she left.


Soldier girls

Day turned to night very quickly this close to the equator. Ella and Anna were still trying to get the oil lamps going when they heard a knock on the door.
”Anna-san, Nen'ne est.”

Anna recognised the voice, it was Byebye. She signalled her to come in when her brain could jump from trying to get an oil lamp going to remembering which language to use with this particular person.
”Ooh, dark...” Byebye said. She quickly fired up two lamps and then showed how it was done with a third one. Then Ella managed to get her lamp going as well.
”This is Ella, my assistant, and over here, already asleep, is my youngest son Kolgard,” Anna now introduced the others in Auresian.
”Nice to meet you... Here...”
Byebye showed a bit of paper. It had a very irregular shape. There were nine handwritten combinations of symbols on it.

Anna's mind wandered off. She could not read any of the symbols, but was intrigued by the asymmetrical shapes. She then took a closer look at the paper bit. She had no idea how the Kakuri made their paper. Anna had seen other workshops during her previous visit, but never met a papermaker.

”It is a three digit schedule,” Byebye explained. Anna still had no idea what she meant. Byebye tried to explain in gestures and some Auresian words. She held up her left hand with four fingers.
”Light,” she said, then pointed beside her index finger, ”Sun up,” and moved to between her middle and ring finger, ”Noon,” and then to her little finger, ”Sun down.” She then turned her hand upside down, ”Sun down,” she repeated and then pointed at the index finger, ”Awake,” and finally grabbed the last three fingers, ”Asleep”.

Three digits, three fingers, now Anna got it. Three phalanxes per finger made nine... And there were nine combinations on the paperbit.
”Kolgard wakes up in the night, I have to feed him,” Anna tried to explain that she understood, but that she had her own schedule as well. Byebye pointed at the fifth combination.
”Is you.” Then she moved one up, ”is me,” and one below, ”is she.”
”Is her,” Anna corrected her.
”If Korugaru early, we trade, if late, you trade.”
”And the rest?”
Byebye pointed at the first three.
”Buke,” she said, and then the last three, ”sorujagaruzu”.

”Problems?” Ella enquired. She had not understood a word of the conversation.
”On the contrary. This is a schedule for whose turn it is to stay awake during a part of the night, about an hour each. She will stay with us. I will let you know when it is your turn, and there will be a soldier showing up once your stint is over.”

Anna still was stirring at the paper. She had recognized the word 'sorujagaruzu' from a song Yuma was performing in Östvallen. She had explained it was about a female warrior caste, part of the Kakuri's defence forces.

VITTMARK:"This mess is a place." --- FISKS:"Fisk you!"
03-13-2019, 09:25 PM (This post was last modified: 03-13-2019 09:27 PM by Pepijn.)
Post: #5
RE: Escape from the dark side
Vind's little finger showing the master plan

”I am eating your food, occupying your soldiers with nightly tasks, the least you could do is to allow me to contribute in some way or another.”
Little Finger understood Anna's request.
”You are above Nokumo Nobono,” she replied, ”can not do work. Can only do... Nokumo work...”
”But... I can not play, can not write...”
”You tell stories, catch the light.”
”I can tell stories, yes. But not in your tongue.”
”Yet...” Little Finger pointed behind her, towards the Kotan building that was the centerpiece of Kakuri administration.

”How long you are here?” she continued in half correct Wortsproke.
”I don't know...”
”When are you ready?”

That was a good question. She had not told any of the Kakuri about her mental problems yet. And she was not sure when she would be ready to return. She might be Anna, but she was also Fighting Bird, an indecisive answer like 'I don't know' was unacceptable.

”I am here to learn more about myself,” Anna tried to answer politely, and at the same time trying to buy some time. But suddenly Little Finger was adding something to Vind's master plan.
”Learn here? You go to Kotan, learn tongue, learn writing, learn playing. Then you are ready.”

Anna wanted to explain that Little Finger had misunderstood her. But then she changed her mind. Last time she was an emotional wreck, she had spent much time at the shrines of Hederskulla and Herrkulla. Going to the source of Orkanan scriptures and biographies. The Kotan was like the Kakuri shrine. The entire culture and history was gathered there. And now she was invited to take part of this. It was the opportunity of a lifetime, since only about 10% of the Kakuri people were allowed in for basic training and never before had an outsider been invited in. Not even crown princess Moa, who technically was Nokumo Nobono and had every right to be there.

”Yes... yes, I would like that... very much.”
”What instrument?” Little Finger asked.
Gakki... gottan, sanshin, shamisen, koto, kokyu,” Little Finger was pointing at some musical instruments gathered at the pavillion.
Taiko,” Sano added. She had not followed the conversation, but when it came to listing musical instruments, she made sure that her favorite was among them.
”Easiest,” Little Finger continued, ”kagura suzu...” She picked up a set of handheld bells.

”You want me... to play an instrument?”
”No... you want to play instrument. Right?”

Anna hesitated for a while. She remembered her piano lessons. It had squeezed the ambition to ever want to play a musical instrument out of her. Stupid scales and left hand exercises. She had given her musical development absolutely zero priority ever since.

Still looking for an answer, she was looking at Little Finger and her naive smile. Then she met Chopper's eyes. She adored Chopper's energy. She loved Little Finger's good humor. Anna wanted to feel like that again, even only a bit. And if she needed to learn to play an instrument to do so, it was worth the trouble.

”You play the koto,” she half asked Little Finger, ”then I want to play the koto too.”
”I am not going to learn you, you have to learn yourself.”
”Like the tongue.”

Anna didn't know if she had made the right choice here. But better to regret something you have done, than to regret something you didn't do. And suddenly it struck her. This is why Palne suggested her to go sunbathe in Ny Skiöldavik. To find something new to explore that was truly her own, by her own choice. How irritating that her husband got it right again, one week later, half a globe away.



Green had taken Anna to a wood workshop. It was a trick of course, having Green taking up this task. Chopper, Green and Orange were the Nokumo Nobono members Anna could not speak with. Thus forcing her to use the Kakuri language.

”What are we doing here?” Anna asked.
Koto o hajiku?” Green asked, ”koto o tsukuru.”
”Ah, so this is where they make the koto's.”
Green started a long conversation with the muscular man busy shaving wood chips of the sideboard of a koto under construction. Anna looked around in the workshop. There was a huge 21-string koto drying from a paint job at the far side, half hidden by a curtain so that the wood chips would not ruin the varnish. The instrument was bigger than she was herself. Anna wondered if she should not settle for something a bit more manageable, like a shamisen, when she noticed a guitar.

Sore wa watashi no monoda,” Green yelled from behind her. ”I ne?” (”Like it?”)
”Hai,” Anna replied. She got the last bit.
Anna walked towards the duo. For a workshop, it was pretty quiet.
Gakki-sensei,” Green introduced the man as the chief musical instrument maker. He showed her the bodywork he was busy with, then showed some parts that had to be installed and then proceeded towards the 21-string behind the curtain. He kept on talking and pointing, but Anna didn't get anything of it.

Gijutsu,” he now said for the third time, when Anna understood it was a question. He showed her some tools like a sanding block, brush, small hammers...
”Wait.... am I supposed to build it myself? Watashi tsukuru?
Hai, anata ga sakusei suru,” Green explained. Anna only got the 'hai' part, which confirmed her worst fears. She had been drawn miles and miles away from her comfort zone. If she would have to learn to build a koto, learn to play it and perform something in the Kakuri language, she might be stuck here for decades.

Ie... muzukashii,” she replied, indicating that it would be too hard.
”Hai,” Green replied again and pointed at the man, ”tasukete.”
”Yeah, but even with his help... I know nothing, Shitte iru nani mo.
That was the first sentence Arimu had learned Anna. I know nothing...
Manabu,” the man added.

Koto, muzukashii,” Anna tried to explain once more. ”Gakki tanjun?
The instrument maker started to laugh. This was a usual response when newly arrived students of the Kotan entered the workshop. Let's start with something a bit more simple. He understood that Anna was no Kakuri and that her presence was temporary, so he decided to help her out.

Kuru... dou,” he pointed at a rounded square piece made out of four curved wood parts, then to his own torso. He then grabbed a long piece of dark wood. ”Sao,” he said, while pointing with his other hand to his neck. He picked up some other parts, like three strings and some items Anna did not recognize. It was only when he showed some prepared skins that she got it.

”Shamisen?” she asked.
”Hai,” the instrument maker replied, ”futozao shamisen.” He pointed towards his shoulder, indicating how large the instrument would become.

VITTMARK:"This mess is a place." --- FISKS:"Fisk you!"
03-14-2019, 09:27 PM
Post: #6
RE: Escape from the dark side

It was in the middle of the night when Jinsoku looked over the half door of Anna's cabin. Instead of Ella, who she usually relieved from watch duty, she noticed Anna curled up in a fetal position right behind the door. She was awake, but not really there.

”Is it OK if I come in?” she asked politely in Kakuri. No reply came, but she entered anyway. Ella and Nenne were fast asleep, and she could also make out Kolgard in his corner of the room. Anna was still non-responsive. Jinsoku checked her, to see if she was wounded, but she could see no physical damage and she was conscious. For a moment she weighed her options. If Anna needed medical attention, then Nenne was already present as a junior healer. But if this was not a medical matter, then Nenne would not like to be woken up in the middle of the night.

She decided to lift Anna up, putting her in an upright position. Jinsoku heard she was mumbling, but couldn't understand a word. She rearranged some pillows, lied herself down on her back and moved Anna halfway on top of herself, sideways. It took a while before she was comfortable, then she took one of the sheets in grabbing distance and put it over them both.

It was in this position Ella found them when she woke up. She drew the wrong conclusion, that Anna had found herself a Kakuri cuddle mate, but she had to re-evaluate when Anna woke up.

”Hells... I have a splitting headache, I haven't slept at... What's Jinsoku doing here?”
”You don't know?”
Anna tried to remember, while Ella tried to help her.
”We traded shifts, remember? It was late last evening at the pavilion, so Kolgard would wake up later as well. Nenne took the first shift, me the second...”

Jinsoku had woken up as well now.
”Owayo... are you OK?”
”Not sure,” Anna replied in Kakuri. She felt anxiety taking over her entire body now, since she could not remember. But that same feeling of anxiety triggered her memory. She put her hand in front of her mouth and then uttered.
”I... had a panic attack...”
”You... what?”
Anna nodded. She looked at Jinsoku, who had not been sleeping comfortably at all. Anna was trying to find the words to ask Jinsoku, but could not find them. All this talking had woken up Nenne and Kolgard as well. Anna started feeding Kolgard and then asked Nenne.
”Could you ask Jinsoku, how I was when she took over...”
”How you... were? You ill?”
”Just ask...”

Jinsoku started explaining, which worried Nenne even more.
”You ill? In the head?” Nenne asked Anna after the conversation with Jinsoku.
”A bit. Sometimes,” Anna confirmed.
”Why you not... tell?”
”Not sure,” Anna replied in Kakuri, ”wait...” She then turned her attention to Ella.
”Kolgard woke up, I fed him, you went to sleep, I stayed up for my watch. I felt wonderful. I like being here, harvesting vegetables, trying to read, building a shamisen. Then I thought about returning home... I miss my other children, Teres, Palne, Moa... That made me sad. But then I started thinking about everything else happening at home. My imagination took over and buried my rational and positive mind.”

”I see...” was the only thing Ella could reply.
”I can not explain that in Kakuri, not even Auresian.”
”Well, it is obvious that it is too soon to return, I don't think we need a doctor's opinion about that.”
”But I want to explain and I don't know how they...”
”Only fine way to find out,” Ella replied, being very practical about this.

Anna turned to Nenne again.
”The mind,” she started in Auresian half sentences, ”a wonderful thing. You can think... a lot... everything. But sometimes, thinking leads to being scared. Very scared.”
”Bad dream...”
”No, not dream, real life. You worry and then fear... becomes you... head stronger than body...”
Suddenly Nenne started to smile.
”What?” Anna asked. Nenne repeated it, also to Jinsoku, who immediately understood what she meant.
”You are afraid, of things that can happen, things you can not help... thoughts you can not help.”
Anna nodded, and kept nodding while Nenne continued.
”Stomach hurts. Legs shiver. Pain in head... Fear becomes you. Darkness puts out you being you. Darkness rules.”
”Yes, that about sums it up.”
”Arisa...” she said once more.

”Wait... you mean Arisa, Nokumo Arisa?”
”Ex Nokumo Arisa, yes. She always felt... like this... performing... Arisa went, I came. I replaced her.”

VITTMARK:"This mess is a place." --- FISKS:"Fisk you!"

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