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!"
03-19-2019, 06:45 PM
Post: #7
RE: Escape from the dark side
The girl who is nothing to Her Majesty the Queen of Vittmark

”When will Her Majesty become available,” the senator of Laxholmen asked impatiently.
”Whenever she feels for it,” was Moa's short and evasive answer.
”Her Majesty has not been seen for over a week.”
”She is at a retreat. She does that more often, it is not unusual.”
”Which of the Kulla's, if I may inquire,” the senator persisted.
”Of course His Lordship may inquire. But it will not grant him an answer. His Lordship will have to do with me.”
”In your capacity as regentesse?”
”In my role as highest representative of the crown at Östervallen.”

”You're getting good at this,” Moa's sister Sanna entered the conversation after the senator had left Anna's working quarters frustrated.
”I don't know how long we can keep up this. We haven't heard from her in a week. Even if she would announce she would return today, it would take 4 to 6 days before she arrived.”

”I don't mind a senator getting frustrated,” Sanna continued, ”but Iduna and Asvard miss her like crazy.”
”They are used to her not being present all the time.”
”True, but we could always say 'she will be back in so many days', I have no idea what to say to them right now.”
”Well, ask her...” Moa suggested.

Sanna stood there a while. ”She left strict instructions not to contact her by wireless unless there was an immediate crisis with one of her nearest. And I am not even included in that group.”
”But you could take a look yourself.”
”She was very clear, no family, no children, no lovers...”
”Exactly. You are not her family. I am adopted into the line of succession, but you are not.
”Yeah... I am nothing to her,” Sanna joked.
”And you could travel on your own, without assistants, clerks, security staff. If you want an excuse I could give you one, but I think she will appreciate it when someone shows an interest without having an own agenda.”

Sanna gathered her thoughts for a moment. Her sister was right, she could just check up on her, satisfy everyone's curiosity and then return, with or without Anna.


The afterlife ruler takes care of her

Anna was lead into the deepest room of the Kotan, the administrative building of the Kakuri people. She had her shamisen strapped to her back, still smelling a bit from the last layer of finish. The room was built like a wooden box inside the stone house. One side was covered in mirrors, while the others had framed textiles. Six of the Nokumo Nobono were working there. Which in their case meant rehearsing for new performances. Anna understood the gravity of the moment and took an almost 90 degree deep bow.

”Anna from the large toshi-bu,” Chopper addressed her, ”fighting bird from the high mountains, mother to the repeating wave, to the guardian of our ancestor's spirits, to the dark survival, woman to the great inspiration, inspirator of women, dreamer of her who is free of loops, please feel welcome into the heart of the isolated ones, guided by Exemplar Gacha since the large waves, across the now, as guarded by the Nokumo Nobono.”

Without a pause, Flower repeated the whole bombastic speech in Cheltai. Despite her obvious mistakes and the direct translation of the Kakuri second language, Anna could understand a bit more. The whole message became clear when Little Finger did the same in Wortsproke.

”Arigatou,” Anna replied.
”Now you have shamisen, you can use kotan to... be better,” Little Finger explained. ”Work in groups...”
Anna looked around. The place was packed with instruments. The door behind her was used as some sort of chalkboard and had all sorts of cryptic inscriptions.
”I don't know how to play. There is no one here playing on my level.”
”Everyone here started at your level.”

Anna shifted her attention towards Flower. She understood the hierarchy within the group all too well now.
”This is where you create, write history... I am honored to be allowed in. Where is Nenne?”
”Nenne is occupied,” was Flower's evasive answer.
”Byebye busy... elsewhere...” Little Finger tried to elaborate. “Nenne is our sister, always. Nokumo Nobono needs healer. Nenne more important as healer than... here...”
”So... not like Arisa?”
“Not like Arisa...”
”And how about...” But Little Finger made wild gestures in order for Anna to stop halfway. She clearly did not want to discuss any other previous member of the Nokumo Nobono. But Anna was the queen, and she usually got her way. So she addressed Chopper with her limited language skills.
”Kakuri tongue I know... thank you, Arimu. Kakuri... things I know, thank you Arimu. You also thank Arimu?”

Flower's eyes were spitting fire, but Chopper remained remarkably calm.
”Arimu is dead,” she replied in a short sentence. ”The afterlife ruler takes care of her. Here, she does not exist.”
Surprise tried to add to the conversation with her limited knowledge of Anisoran, hoping that Anna's skills in Auresian would help her understand.
”Ita, Arimu, Arisa, on the path behind us. We plan... path ahead. Behind us... is gone.”

VITTMARK:"This mess is a place." --- FISKS:"Fisk you!"
03-20-2019, 09:27 PM (This post was last modified: 03-20-2019 09:28 PM by Pepijn.)
Post: #8
RE: Escape from the dark side
As in Palnesdotter Blåkulla

Sanna was singled out immediately when she disembarked from the airship at the field near the Residency in Carls Nybygge.
Förvaltare (lieutenant), if you would like to follow me,” the militia captain asked her. Sanna's uniform stuck out. It was a neutral federal outfit, a black short jacket with two orange bands on both arms, indicating her rank, a black, wide hip belt in fabric with an integrated orange strap, a gray, pleated skirt at knee length with orange siding to one side, black knee length stockings and standard black combat boots.

”I do only follow orders in my own chain of command, captain,” she replied.
”It is not an order, it is a request. Her ladyship outranks Sgt. Torstensson of the federal platoon, so Herr Fisk would like to welcome you.”

Sanna followed into the Residency, the headquarters of the chartered company who were running the overseas territories. Arild Fisk's working space was the usual chaos, with people walking in and out, handing information, requesting orders, seeking counsel. He was so busy that he did not even notice the new arrival. But the man next to him did. He jumped up and saluted.
”Your ladyship,” he addressed Sanna.
”Herr Tunn,” she replied. Iunse Tunn was Vittmark's governor over Fisks, Queen Anna's way of keeping Arild Fisk on a short leash.

”Who's the new one?” Arild now entered the conversation.
”Lt. Blåkulla of Federal Court Security, at your service, Your Lordship,” Sanna saluted.
”The two of you have met,” Iunse Tunn interrupted.
”We did?”
”As recently as half a year ago,” Sanna elaborated. ”I was part of the inspection crew of Ny Skiöldavik on behalf of the crown.”
”Ah I see, miss...”
”Blåkulla. As in Palnesdotter Blåkulla. And it's misses.”

Arild Fisk now understood the mistake he had made. He tried to talk his way out of it.
”In a Court Security uniform nevertheless.”
”I'm on a mission of security assessment at Ny Skiöldavik, safeguarding the Eastern Crown Domains.”
”So this is not a reconnaissance mission for some royal visitor arriving by the next airship? Don't get me wrong, Her Majesty and her following are always welcome. It is just that our security resources are quite limited and we would be needing some time to prepare such an event.”

Sanna looked at Iunse Tunn now. As federal governor he had been updated about the queen's private, undercover visit to Ny Skiöldavik. But the Fisks had been left in the dark.
”I can guarantee His Lordship that no members of the crown have any plans to travel from Vittmark here, the coming weeks.”
With that formulation, Sanna was not lying. She was just withholding the information that a member of the royal family was already on the island.


I'm nothing, I'm no one

A large part of the population of Toshi-bu had gathered around the pavilion at sunset. Fires were burning so there would be enough light for the first presentation of the new students of the kotan. A nerve wrecking moment, since one's education could be terminated immediately by the people of one's own blade if it didn't show promise or progress. The same goes for other students that had been around for a couple of years now.

Anna was out of place in this company. The new pupils were as young as 11 to 13. The more experienced performers were adolescents aged 15 to 19. Only a few were over 20, maybe up to 25. But she was new and she had to show something on her instrument. When it was her turn, she stepped on to the steps leading toward the pavilion, where the Nokumo Nobono were watching the event. Bybye was sitting on the first step, a bit away from the rest.

Unlike all the others, Anna did not introduce herself. She just started playing a slow progression on her shamisen. But it didn't take long until she heard rhythmical hand claps behind her, the Nokumo Nobono urging her to speed up. Anna stopped, looked over her shoulder, then into the audience, who had taken over the clapping. When it came to audience response, Anna had scored a point. But for the wrong reason.

She sighed and set off again, this time at twice the speed, about matching the hand claps. She kept the rhythm going by tapping on the skin of her shamisen with her left hand before she started singing. Like all the other Kulla's, Anna had a problem with playing and singing at the same time.

My story's stale and old
Yoriyoi - before been told
But please don't stop me if you've heard it
Kattorōto kyōkan
Sore wa mukanshin
And all I've risked has left me worthless

She picked up her riff again, but then changed into something else, something so simple that she tested to sing along anyway.

I'm nothing I'm no one - Nani mo, dare mo

Anna started from the start again, but playing it one octave up. A standard Kakuri trick, playing the second verse differently than the first. Then she started singing again, hesitating, not very loud, but at the same time tapping a weird back beat on the highest string with the huge plectrum that came with the instrument. The rhythm returned to normal, the simple bit where she could sing her line, until she started playing a very basic quint. This chorus had a chord progression, since Anna's vocal parts were shifting, but she kept playing the same two notes.

The second repeat was much shorter and this time Anna played the chords of the chorus instead of singing it. By the end of this second chorus she tried to remember what part came next. As a result she snapped out of her concentration. She looked sideways towards Byebye.
”Et cetera,” Anna said half loud. Byebye put her index and middle finger in a V, next to her right eyebrow, indicating that it was good.

”She should play in a group,” an older woman in the front row yelled.
”Hai,” people started confirming this as a general opinion. Until Chopper came forward and addressed the crowd in her high pitched voice, speaking as fast as a woodpecker.
”Who wants to play with the novice?”
A guy with a shamisen who still had to perform raised his hand. A short girl from the more experienced group raised her arm as well, while at the same time she elbowed a taller girl standing next to her, urging her to join too.
”Me,” Flower yelled from the back, which resulted in laughs from the audience.

”Settled. Who's next?” Chopper grabbed Anna by the arm and asked her to sit with them.
”I'm nothing I'm no one?” Chopper asked. Anna just looked down.
”The risk, left me worthless?” Little Finger came with a follow-up question. When Anna nodded, she translated for the others.
”Anna... black on inside, hai?”

There was no denying that.

VITTMARK:"This mess is a place." --- FISKS:"Fisk you!"
03-22-2019, 01:18 PM
Post: #9
RE: Escape from the dark side
New kids on the block

”Good morning, Anna-san.”
Anna had just arrived at the kotan when she heard a voice behind her. It was the older woman that had yelled that she should play in a group the evening before.
”Good morning... I am Anna, and you?”
”Miko-san. Kirisaki-sha no shidou-sha,” she replied. Anna did not understand her and asked her to repeat it. But Miko had to use gestures and single words to try to explain.
”You... mother... Durrum. Me... mother... Kirisaki...”
”I am not Durrum's mother,” Anna replied.
”I am not Chopper's mother. Haha-yaya.” Then Anna got it, Miko was Chopper's stepmother, or mentor, or something in between. Kakuri family ties were different than what she was used to. Or maybe not that different.

”So my husband's daughter Eba is your step-daughter's daughter, or something,” Anna said more to herself, ”this is getting way too complicated.”
”You, come,” Miko said in Kakuri. To Anna's surprise she could enter the Kotan without any trouble. They both were passed by Flower who came running in.
”You... right moment,” Flower began in her version of Cheltai. ”Good... good... Others, will take. Come.”

Flower lead Anna and Miko into a similar room as the one Anna had visited, but without any mirrors and less instruments.
”I thought you were joking when you said you would play with me,” Anna said.
”Right. Will not play. Will help. You play...”

Anna got her string instrument from her back and started playing the same song she had played the night before. Flower grabbed a piece of chalk and started writing on the darkest wall.
”Part one, then tapping, then sing, then sing again...” Flower summarized. ”Good. Part two, then play high and sing, and sing again, part two again... wait...”

Anna stopped right before what she thought was a chorus.
”Play as second time, with many...” Flower instructed Anna while grabbing a shamisen herself. Anna started to play. She had actually tried to copy a well known Orkanan song, but wasn't very successful at it..
”Again,” Flower insisted. Then she started to play the eerie bit at the same time. Both parts fitted together perfectly. Flower had understood that Anna had more music going on in her head than she could reproduce with her limited playing techniques, based on her performance the night before. So she had decided to drag it out of her.

”Good... good...” Flower said. ”Now... voice...”
”I can't play and sing at the same time, not yet.” But to Anna's amazement, Flower started playing Anna's part. Now she could focus on the chorus vocals.
”Hai...” Flower concluded and returned to the writing wall, writing strange inscriptions that were not connected to the spoken language.

”Then tapping, sing again, part two, this again, and again, then part one. Kanryou!”
”What is ready?”
”Uta... You show other, you play. Hai?”
”See you this evening.”

Without waiting or explaining more, Flower rushed out. Anna looked at the inscriptions on the wall. She took a sheet of paper from her bag and started copying it down. She did not understand everything Flower had written, but she wanted to be able to study it further. When she was almost done, she heard another voice. It was the short, young man. But Miko was nowhere to be seen anymore.
”Good day. I am Ando-san.”
”I am Anna-san... nice... you also shamisen?”
”Yes, and percussion,” he pointed towards some drums and cymbals. Then his eyes fell on the inscriptions on the wall. ”Oh... nice... you can write?”
”No... Sano-san.”
”Nice,” Ando replied. ”Shall we start?”
”Girls?” Anna wondered if they had to wait for the other two.


I designed the place

Sanna disembarked from the eka that had brought her to the pier of Ny Skiöldavik. She helped unloading the supplies but left reloading up to the assigned crew.
Förvaltare, Ryttmästare Petterson at your service,” she heard behind her. She turned around.
”At ease, Peter. I'm on a crown mission, it does not affect your standing orders here.”

”Sanna lady of Blåkulla... That is unexpected. Or maybe it's not. You are here to see Her Majesty, I presume.”
”You presumed right. Is she available?”
”Not here. She traveled on, mylady.” Petterson pointed towards the mountainous range behind him.
”That was not the arrangement we agreed upon,” Sanna replied.
”Her Majesty makes her own arrangements.”
”Then she is at least on the road towards recovery.”

”How urgent is your matter, mylady?” Petterson inquired.
”Not that urgent...”
”Then I would suggest you travel further tomorrow morning. Including the cable ride it is two and a half, three hours and we're already into the fourth quarter of daylight. It would be dark before you would arrive. I could make some officers available...”
”That won't be necessary. We don't want to draw on your resources. If it is safe to travel on my own account...”

”But these are your resources, mylady, you are the highest ranking officer. There are between 10 and 20 people making this journey on a given day, so Her Ladyship might want to team up with some returning fishermen, if she prefers not to walk alone.”
”I would like that. I only made the trip one time before, I have no plans on going alone.”
”The path is pretty straightforward and you will meet others on your way, but in Her Ladyship's case I can understand you prefer not to travel alone. Let's get you some accommodation then.

Petterson showed Sanna her quarters.
”There is water here, and...”
”I designed the place, remember?”
”Ah, right... yes, of course.”

VITTMARK:"This mess is a place." --- FISKS:"Fisk you!"
03-24-2019, 10:12 PM
Post: #10
RE: Escape from the dark side
Rono of the Oto on koto

”Kamisama Pino A'na.” The short girl that volunteered yesterday came in through the door. ”It is an honour to be able to meet Her Holiness in person, let alone work with her,” she continued in Kakuri. She had a rather deep voice for her posture. Anna had to take the girl's language a couple of levels down.
”I am Anna. You?”
”Rei of the Kyuko blade. Food?”
The trio sat in the common room. Rei and Ando chatted politely, it seemed that they hardly knew each other. Anna ate in silence, trying to pick up something from the conversation. But she quickly gave up, enjoying a moment where she did not have to use all her attention to try to hang along. Then she realised that she wasn't completely exhausted, like she usually was after a morning session.

”I... food... to Kolgard,” she tried to explain before she quickly headed out. It was piping hot outside and she was one of the few people not staying indoors at this time of the day. Feeding Kolgard went quickly, but then Anna felt a tiredness creeping upon her. She knew she had to give in, if she didn't want to end up with a skull splitting headache later that day. Ella woke her up after an hour, after which she quickly returned to the Kotan. She found the duo sitting at the same table, now joined by the second girl.

”We begin!” Ando half yelled and jumped up. The girls continued chatting with each other all the way to the instrument room. They all went in, closed the door behind them and Ando started explaining what they had been working on.
”Wait...” Anna said. She approached the new girl. ”I am Anna, you?”
”I am sorry. I did not know how to address you, so I waited. My name is Karitu, but people call me Neko.”
Anna didn't get most, but still replied. ”Neko...” She then imitated a cat licking its paw and grooming her head.
”Hai, Neko. Subarashii!!”

The quartet now set off, trying to get the song going before the extra performance this evening. It went better every time they tried, but it still sounded quite thin. Anna felt a bit of an outsider during the water breaks they occasionally had. Not only was she at least 10 years older, maybe 15, but her language skills were still an obstacle. But her isolation made her spot a familiar face showing up.

”Rono,” she said gently while standing up. Then the others got up as well and took a deep bow for the former leader. Rono was more Palne's age. He addressed Ando.
”Sano told me you needed some help.”
”Ehm... yes... I'm... we're... it's this song. It lacks...”
”Koto or kin?”
”Yes, it does, sensei.”
”Which one?”
”Ehm... Koto?” Ando was looking more towards Anna now. It was her song.
”You... Koto? With us?” Anna asked, trying to check if she understood.
”Hai, Pino-sama.”
”Yes, please, thank you.”


A planner's mind on the march

At the top station of the cableway, Sanna suddenly felt a slight feeling of unrest popping up. Here she was, on the other side of the planet, accompanied by two men she could not communicate with, on her way to the monarch that clearly had lost interest in her royal assignment for the time being. There was so much that could go wrong here...

The men walked in a decent tempo, so Sanna could follow them easily. Unlike Moa, Sanna had hung on to her outdoor lifestyle more while growing up. She had a way of keeping her mind busy with other things, so she wouldn't leave room for feeling pain or getting tired up to a certain level. One of the things was that she had calculated that the amount of prepared fish the men were carrying accounted for about 25% of the daily intake of protein of the Kakuri population. A planner's mind, interested in how society worked. On this level it was still concrete and tangible.

”San-san!” Little Finger yelled from a distance when Sanna entered Toshi-bu. ”Not expected, but expected, through the times.”
”Koyubi-sama,” Sanna replied in the proper addressing style.
”Come. I show you Anna,” Little Finger continued.
It was a short walk to the cabin where Anna was staying. Despite it being around lunch time, she was vast asleep. Little Finger hesitated.
”Anna-san tired. Difficult day before. You travelled... a lot. Can wait a bit?”
Sanna understood. She had been en route for six days now, what would an hour or two more make any difference. So she accepted the invitation to lunch with the Nokumo Nobono. With an outsider present, they gathered at the pavillion, instead of eating inside the Kotan as they usually did.

”Anna must return?” Little Finger asked directly. Or maybe it was the way she used to mix up must, should, could, being ought to... The Kakuri did not have many semi-synonyms with subtle differences in meaning or intonation in their language. Their subtlety was purely contextual.

Sanna did not know either if Anna was on a first name basis with the Nokumo Nobono members, or that this was a linguistic liberty Little Finger took. But since she herself was a member of the same stim as Anna, she continued with using her first name.
”Anna is her own boss. I am just interested to see how she is doing. We care for her.”

”Ni Yushi Yudawaku, it means to do something quick and good.”
Sanna recognised the Kakuri homophonic version of Ny Skiöldavik, it was not the first time she had heard it.
”It does? What a coincidence.”
”It is not... It is new!”
”So you are saying that it is an expression that comes from Ny Skiöldavik?”

Sanna now understood how easily a culture was influenced by impressions from the outside, which made her see the reason why the Kakuri had avoided open contact with settlers in the region. The Vittmarkers were influencing Kakuri culture, but in all fairness, it was the Kakuri who had taken the initiative to the new relation.

After lunch they went back to the cabin. Little Finger peeked in over the half door and noticed Anna sitting up eating a bit of fruit.
”Someone to see you,” she said and then opened the door to Sanna. Anna jumped up and gave her a firm and long hug. She quickly turned around, still grabbing on to Sanna, making sure Little Finger would not see the tears welling up right now.
”Am I... supposed to come home?”
”Am I supposed to talk to your back,” Sanna replied.

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

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