It’s been another long day, but then the days have seemed to be that way more often than not of late. Kaji not quite drags his feet up the stairs, barely clearing each step as he makes his way to the floor where his room is. Usually he doesn’t mind stairs, and two or three flights isn’t bad at all. Lately he’s been missing elevators.
Nudging the door to his room open, he yawns, letting his backpack slip from his shoulder to land on the floor. He’s got more notes to transfer, but he really just wants to collapse on the bed for a while. He’s hungry too, but he’d like to actually make sure he won’t faceplant into his food.
“Ugh… I don’t know how much more I can take of this,” he groans, dragging himself to the bed. The youth all but throws himself onto it, ignoring the patter of candies that rain from the bed that he must have missed from his earlier sweep of the room the other day. How many had Meg even gotten? Not that he was going to complain.
Devan’s keen hearing would normally have allowed the Owlman to hear Kaji coming and give him a chance to at least trrryyyyy not to seem like a creepy weirdo. The fledgling monk is asleep though and he doesn’t hear his friend come upstairs, into the room or even drop his things, despite the fact Devan is hiding under Kaji’s bed. If owl’s snored, that is what he’d be doing. They don’t though, or at least this one doesn’t, so he’s resting peacefully, lost in his dreams right up until Kaji collapses onto the bed.
“WHOOOOOOttt!!” “WHoOoooOOooeeelllp! Earthquake! Alarm! Help me!” Those are about the only clearly discernible words amidst all the screeching and screaming and thumps as Devan tries to flee but can’t. He’s forgotten where he is and all he can tell is that it’s dark, shaking (now mostly due to his own silly antics) and the space seems to be very small, though whatever has fallen on his head keeps moving whenever he hits it. “Spirits! Spirits! Help!!” Sudden silence followed by a very very tiny voiced “wh-why are you all.. laughing..?” He’s trapped in the rubble and going to suffocate and they’re laughing!!
Kaji hadn’t even shut his eyes for two seconds when suddenly there’s a bunch of ungodly noise. In his groggy state of mind he doesn’t even register where it’s coming from, much less who- but then it’s his room, who the heck else should be in here??
He pushes away from the bed, half leaping, half stumbling, and then ending up falling altogether onto the floor. “Wh-what??!” he stammers, gaping as his bed seems to be moving. There’s something under it- oh gosh he has monsters under his bed. Is that a thing here? It can totally be a thing in this crazy world!
“Who’s there!” he demands, his hand pawing around beside him for anything he can use as a weapon. Sadly his floor is pretty clean, and his backpack’s by the door. With this realization, Kaji scoots back a little, sore, but he’ll deal with that later. His backpack falls over, paper spilling from it to shape into a small legion of origami raptors that scamper towards the edge of the bed.
Miss Frizz’s jewelry box-sized ‘bed’ — a small lidded box with a nest of tiny fabric scraps and a baby sock inside — occasionally wanders around Grans, winding up in various person’s private rooms. Today, it’s in Kaji’s room. And Suss is napping when Kaji drags himself in probably because Devan was also sleeping.
Speaking of, Devan’s freakout startles her awake, and with all of the screeching and screaming and thumping about, she squeaks in alarm and flails, trapped inside her baby sock sleeping bag. Of course, her own freakout really only results in the lid of her bedbox to fall closed with a soft clunk and the box itself to tip off of the bedside table and onto Kaji.
Which of course causes her to panic all the more, adding telepathic panicking to the mix.
Devan is all tangle up in his robe, the hood is down over his face and his face its twisted around and under one of his legs and he looks a lot like some kind of weird owl-pretzel man at the moment but hopefully the russet feathers and simple linen are a familiar sight to Kaji because Devan still can’t see his friend though he’s at least stopped thrashing, awake enough to figure out something isn’t right. At least it’s not earthquaking now! It had been, right? Or.. or did he maybe dream that? And why is his beak next to one of his feet?
That large three claw-toed foot twists and gently pushes back the hood of the robe so Devan can see. Large dark eyes peer out from beneath Kaji’s bed. Did he not just also hear small squeaks of alarm??..in his mind?? What is going on?? “Who..oh. FriendKaji!” The owlman relaxes for a moment but then scrunches up even smaller. Uhoh. “I-…I can explain!” Something besides “I meant to wake up before you were home” hopefully because that doesn’t seem the kind of explanation that will make this better as one of the whispers very helpfully points out. The monk blinks as a box falls onto Kaji.
The origami legion backs off a little, giving the emerging figure from beyond- er, the bed, some room. Some of them snap their tiny paper jaws in anticipation. Kaji himself remains where he is, but then he’s backed himself into a wall with not much elsewhere to go. He’s kind of operating in a daze and partially on instinct, and with all the confusion going on he’s not sure what terror is who’s nor what’s in his room. The why’s haven’t even come into play yet.
“Ow-!” he yelps, because on top of it all he gets smacked by a box. That gets a bit of a stare because he’s pretty sure that isn’t even his. …oh gosh, did he come into the wrong room? No, he couldn’t have been that tired!
The robed, twisted and feathery thing finally begins to unfold or uncurl and untangle itself, although it’s only after Devan speaks up that Kaji registers the familiar face and form of the owl monk. “Devan???” he blurts, still looking completely confused. He’s just not sure of what’s going on anymore. Also his head hurts and he’s not sure what’s making that noise!
The box is … still screaming pretty much above human hearing levels to match the telepathic panicking, and it’s jumping ever so slightly, like something is moving around inside.
“Whoohoohooopps..” Devan’s eyes move to the fierce looking paper raptors and he pauses extricating himself and stares. “Oooh.” Those are impressive and frightening and …cute. The owlman blinks at the strange combination of feelings and edges a bit further out from under the bed, performing what would be impressive and slightly impossible acrobatics for a human.
It takes a few moments to figure out the telepathic screaming is coming from the box because Devan at first mistakes it for one of the spirits attempting to incite further panic and mischief from him. “Oh. Oh. Mighty Little One, it is alright. I think we are done startling each other, perhaps? Hopefully.” The Monk adds in a rueful tone. It might have been less traumatic to wake up surrounded by more Dogwoodians. No, no, probably not.
Kaji rubs his head, still looking at the monk as though uncertain as to whether he’s dreaming. He glances at the raptors as he notices Devan’s look towards them, giving a small nod that sends them all filing off back towards his backpack, smoothing back into square sheets that slide within once again.
“Who are you talking to…?” he asks when Devan begans to address…someone? The youth reaches for the box that had bounced off of him, very nearly dropping it again as he feels it shudder. “Uwah! What now??” he sputters, the thing juggled slightly in his grasp as at least some part of his tired mind seems to be functioning enough to reason. Slowly he sets the thing down, flipping open the lid. Maybe against his better judgment, he thinks belatedly, because who knows what kind of things can hide in boxes.
Once the lid is flipped open, a small fawn-colored mouse locked in deadly combat with a… baby sock is revealed. Of course, the sudden brightness makes Miss Frizz freeze, and her dark eyes look up at Devan then Kaji. And the telepathic panicking is promptly replaced by a wave of confusion.
“I did not mean to startle you..either of you.” Devan tells Kaji and the box both. After a few seconds and a full beak blush “Or be creepy.” The monk side-eyes the corner. “It.. it seemed safer in here. I was …” another pause but he really can’t think of any reason to be under Kaji’s bed aside from the honest truth. “I was afraid still. I got captured by some of those Dogwood people. No respect for monks at all!” Devan whispers distraughtly. “I went too far the wrong way and I suppose.. I was trespassing.”
The Monk quiets and scoots out from under the bed the rest of the way. Sitting up he peers into the box and blinks. “Awww. I am sorry for startling you! I do not eat mice ladies! I promise.” He hastens to assure her. ‘Hehe. Kajifriend is such a good person, if everyone feels safe enough in his room to sneak in to sleep.’ Devan thinks to himself, and then ‘Or he uhm.. he needs to find some more normal friends…poor Kaji. I am afraid I am not normal at all! Not even for a Striigian..ah well.” Telepathic mice on the other hand seem totally normal to the monk. Or maybe it’s just that everything in this world is so equally alien that he’s just getting used to it as a new kind of normal?
“…Miss Frizz?” The necromancer stares down at the mouse, and while no questions seem to be asked, he can pick up on the confusion. Or maybe that’s just him. “What are you doing in here?”
Maybe he should just learn to lock his room. Kaji can’t help but feel a little guilty for thinking that after Devan admits his reasons as to why he’d snuck inside. He looks at the monk, brow furrowed. “Wait, you wandered up that far? At least you don’t look like you got hurt or anything… Did you?” He keeps hearing such terrible things about Dogwood, but it hasn’t really killed his curiosity to go there himself.
“I’m glad you made it back. You should be careful if you go traveling by yourself though. How would we know if anything happened to you?”
Suss very delicately extricates herself from the baby sock, then spends a few seconds getting her fur back in order. <~ I don’t know why I was in here. I fell asleep on the shelf in the common room. ~> Likely then that someone put it in here thinking the bedbox belonged to Kaji.
Once she’s presentable again, Miss Frizz looks up at Devan. <~ What is a ‘Dogwood people’? ~>
Devan ducks his head in chagrin and hoots softly. “You are right. I was running from something else and went too far that way. I guess these particular ones weren’t as bad as some. They seemed to hate me even though the one in charge had pointed ears. They did let me go when they realized I was there by accident.”
The Monk quietly watches Miss Suss make herself presentable, speaking up again to answer her question. “Dogwood is another city but it is not like Vesper. Their people only like humans, humans with no magic or powers and I think, machines. A giant hellbeast was about to attack me, goodness, I’d forgotten that! They killed it and saved me but really they killed it because it would have eaten them too. Still, at least they let me go and I will be much more careful where I fly from now on. I also think..”
Devan ponders a moment and then nods at Kaji. “Yes. No more exploring outside the city alone. You are right. Perhaps one of the spirits would have told you but.. I do not count on them. One of them led me that way in the first place.” The owlman sighs. “I was still afraid after I made it back and cleaned up. No real harm done I just.. I had fallen into the mud.” A long pause. “And…” very very softly muttered “…caught myself on fire….” barely even audible “..a couple of time.” In a louder voice. “I stopped to try to cook some fish before making my way home. That was.. such a mistake.”
Scratching his head, Kaji looks at the mouse as she explains. “Hmm, I’ll tell Gran so they won’t go moving your bed around,” he promises. He knows he’d probably be pretty upset about waking up in some place other than where he thought he should be.
He leans back against the wall, relaxed now that he’s not panicking about unidentified things in his room. The excitement has served to scare off any weariness for the moment, but then that’s adrenaline for you. “Pointed ears? Like an elf? That was nice of them. I think you were lucky. I mean, I don’t believe that everyone over there can be so prejudicial but all the things I’ve heard from people in Vesper can’t be without basis either.” Not to mention his own brief visit to Dogwood had an awful start, but he couldn’t completely blame the people. Blame them for other things, certainly, but not for reacting defensively.
Devan gets a sympathetic look and a faint smile. “Aw… Well, you’re back now. Sounds like it was an adventure all right.” Considering what all roamed between Vesper and Dogwood, he thinks the monk was lucky to have gotten off so easy.
Suss learned very quickly to not roam about by herself. The dangers that the others deal with often completely overlook her, but there are other things that make the wilds around Vesper even more dangerous to her. Like birds of prey, snakes, cats, wild dogs, other rodents, even humans.
<~ Thank you, ~> she replies to Kaji. Though… where will her bedbox end up finally?
“I think mentioning Gran’s and Vesper helped. Apparently they don’t usually shoot people from Vesper. Just rob and detain them if they wander across their not so clearly marked border.” Devan gives the impression of scowling hard. “If they ever develop a spirit problem the only help I plan to give is encouragement. To the spirits.”
He blinks and his beak turns pink. “I am a bad monk, aren’t I? Elder Jacobson was always saying so. He said a lot of things though… and I’m certain they weren’t all true…like the cookies. I did not die when I ate more than one of them.” He puffs out his chest in a clear “so there!” gesture, but quickly deflates and his feathers shiver. “It was so scary.” He scrambles across the floor to sit closer to Kaji.
“How are you, though? You’ve been safer and smarter than I, I hope?” Devan looks his friend over critically, blinking as he notices how tired and worn Kaji seems. “Well. You’re smarter than me, anyway.” One eye turns towards Suss. What she needs is a room, or a place of her own in the Inn. To put her box and sleeping bag! Oh so tiny!! And anything else.. somewhere out of the way where no one will look or bother her… but still close by. He’ll have to keep an eye out for such a spot.
Kaji gets into enough trouble just wandering around the wilderness that is Vesper. He smirks a little at Devan. “I don’t think that’d help anyone, really. Things are kind of getting tense- then again I think they always are, but lately, with all that’s been happening…” He shakes his head.
When the owl scoots closer, Kaji absently reaches over to pat him on the fluffy head. Devan never seems to mind, anyway. “Heh… Smarter, huh? I don’t know about that, sometimes,” he sighs. “I’ve been training how to fight better, and learning a little more about necromancy. …and then some.”
Suss pushes the baby sock around until it’s less combative looking, then stand up straight with her front feet on the edge of the bedbox. <~ Could you maybe help each other? Or… for now maybe more rest? ~> She could certainly use another nap after nearly losing a fight to her bedding.
Devan chortles happily when Kaji pats him and watches Miss Suss. “Learning to fight?” The monk leans back. “I can see how that is a good idea but I do not think it is for me. I barely weigh anything for one, it’s hard to be fighting someone when you can do about as much damage as a balled up wash cloth.” He chuffs. “Okay I weigh a bit more and its mostly muscle but, I’m made for flying. I wouldn’t even have normal hands if it weren’t for my gauntlets. I am *so* glad they didn’t realize they were magical and take them from me. I think they were disappointed I had no assets to seize.”
“The Necromancy is good too, but you should be careful. It’s not.. it can lead you astray if you aren’t wary is all. Like with me, what I do is a bit different but even so, the spirits often try to mislead me for their own purposes or amusement.” Try and do, rather more frequently than he’d like but it’s an ongoing struggle, that. “I would like to come see you learn the fighting though..sometime. If you don’t mind. Maybe I can learn things and I’m sure it’s interesting.”
Devan bounces a bit in excitement at the thought. It should be totally safe too! And maybe he can bring.. water, and towels, or.. food.. or.. something. So that he isn’t quite so useless. Those are things things that a practicing warrior needs, right??? Maybe he isn’t suited for it but Devan has spent time reading about and imagining it.
“Heh, I wouldn’t say no to rest,” Kaji admits, grinning a little at the mouse. He nods then at Devan, glad that the monk had been able to keep his magical hand-making gauntlets as well. True he might have been able to get something of the like made to replace it, but being a stranger to this world himself, Kaji knows something like that wouldn’t come cheap. “Oh, you’d be surprised. I don’t think weight is everything, or even strength. There’s more to fighting and winning than force. I guess it’d be better not to have to fight at all, but there are things around here that don’t really give you that option, sometimes. Not if you want to live.”
He closes his eyes, sighing softly. “I know I gotta be careful. I figured it would be better to learn than not to know anything at all. I could have probably picked a better teacher though, but I thought I’d kill two b….er, take care of two things at once.” Yeah, maybe using that saying isn’t the best when you’re with a bird-person.
“…you remember when I was asking about looking for a teacher, back at that tavern? I was actually trying to find a particular necromancer who might be linked to the increase of demon activity out in the mountains. I found her- both people that the Justicars mentioned by name.” At what cost though? That’s another problem to figure out. And on top of that he’s supposed to be bait for the Harvesters at some point. Maaaybe he’ll just leave that out for now.
At least talking about his other training is marginally more pleasant. “I wouldn’t mind if you came,” he says, smiling at Devan. “It’s early in the morning at the Justicar headquarters. Right now it’s mostly exercises, which I can understand why the importance. It’s still really tiring though.”
“Like everything?” Devan asks, half joking. He’s not entirely convinced everything from the dirt to the weather is continuously trying to murder him in this world… but… nearly. He chuckles softly at the expression Kaji was about to use. It’s something he’s heard a few times already and pats his friend reassuringly on the shoulder. They eat the little birds here but they aren’t people, so far as he’s seen, so it’s okay.
“I remember. That was strange and that woman was kind of…” Devan trails off to listen, his eyes slowly going wider and wider. “You are the bravest person I have ever heard of or met, Kaji!” The Monk breathes in awe as he learns his friend went seeking someone who summons demons. Demons! “Ohh exercises can be tiring.. I used to have to carry two sacks of pebbles up the flight of one million steps. The joke being you can’t fly. You have to walk. It was tiring and boring, it took a week to do, every time.” Devan sighs. “As scary as this world is, I miss the Monastery less every moment.” The Owlman admits softly.
Suss watches the pair chat, then clambers out of the bedbox and skitters across to where Devan sits and looks up at him seriously. <~ So you wouldn’t go back, if you could? To the people you knew, the places that were home? ~>
Poor Brother Devan. Maybe one day he’ll be able to walk around without flinching at every children’s laugh or puppy’s bark. Kaji blinks at the owlman and then laughs a little, shaking his head. “Brave? Sometimes I don’t know about that. But it wasn’t that lady I was looking for. She seemed to know who, though. I’m pretty sure she’s the one that passed on my name to Bea. Er, fake name. Hope Edwin won’t be mad at me for using it.” He grins sheepishly.
He wonders if he’s lucky Ardul hasn’t made him carry rocks or something around the yard. “Ugh, that sounds terrible. Up steps?? That doesn’t sound like training, that sounds like torture!”
At the mouse’s question, Kaji glances back at her. He smiles wistfully as he considers.
Devan considers Suss very seriously for several long moments, really thinking over her question. “I think.. I think I might have at first if I hadn’t fled the Monastery in danger of my life in the first place, because until that happened, it was safe and it was what I knew and everything here seems so dangerous.. but now, No. I wouldn’t go back. Do you know, I don’t even know what my own world looks like, or if my people *have* a world. The Monastery could have been in a realm or dimension all it’s own. I was never allowed to leave and I was only taught about specific things. I never had a family, no idea who my parents were. I was raised by the Monks and they weren’t good with kids…but then, I wasn’t very good at being a Monk either.” Devan admits.
He shrugs a bit. “It’s very alien and unfamiliar here but I’m free. I can learn about anything I want, I do whatever I want, eat, sleep, fly, talk to people if I’m brave enough. I’ve even made a friend.. one who isn’t a spirit!” Devan wraps an arm around Kaji. “A very good friend. I really like it here, even if it’s scary. So no, I wouldn’t go back, even if Elder Jacobson showed up right now and said they don’t want to kill me anymore.” There’s some nervous hooting followed by Devan turning his head all the way round, several times. Then the owlman’s beak turns pink again. “Whooheheheh.”
Miss Frizz ohs faintly. Very different situation, then. She climbs up onto one of Devan’s knees, inwardly marveling at the feathers — she’s never experienced anything like them before. <~ Well, I’m glad you’re here, then. It sounds like the place you came from was not very nice. ~>
Laughing as Devan throws an arm around him, it helps ease any sorts of doubts that might have been stirred. Kaji just hopes he can keep living up to the monk’s expectations. He’s glad he’d been able to help the owl at all, but he thinks that Devan’s significantly different from when they’d first met. At least he hasn’t outright fainted at anyone that Kaji’s seen lately.
“I guess not all worlds are, but then no place is perfect,” he muses. “Maybe now that you’re here, you can do different things. It’s like a fresh start.” The teenager glances at the mouse then. “What about you, Miss Frizz?”
Miss Frizz has to hang on to a few feathers as the two of them jostle each other and her perch on Devan’s knee. <~ I was … I was on my way to a new place away from my home, so I guess this place is as good as any. ~> If on a bit of a different scale than she’d been accustomed to.
Devan nods happily as he watches Miss Suss investigate his feathers and then exclaims “Yes! whoowhoo! A fresh start.” So long as the monks and the wrongs spirits don’t catch up to him. Perhaps.. he should have kept running, but he’s tired of running and now.. now he’s different, Kaji is right. Things are different.
“I am certain there are worse places and it wasn’t completely horrible.. but here.. I am free and one day perhaps soon, perhaps not, I will stop fainting, or nearly so, at every new thing. At least I can see new people now without messi-er.. falling over.” The owlman switches words hastily. No need to remind anyone of any hatchlinglike type accidents due to fear. Hopefully that giant wolfy fellow has forgotten their first meeting and that battle, well, things happen in battle! Lots of things! Likely no one even noticed. That is what he tells himself anyway and very thoroughly ignores any of the whispers that try to suggest otherwise.
“It does seem a good place to make a home, so long as you aren’t all alone and the three of us aren’t we have each other!” Devan tries harder not to bounce and jostle for Miss Suss’s sake. He’s just so easily excited. He really has to do a good job and search the Inn for hidey holes later for her. It will be fun! He can get some snacks and a waterskin and that silly little flower hat that childling gave him and make it an adventure! … a very safe very quiet adventure. The best kind! …today at least.
“Heh, yeah. I guess this is as new as you can ever expect. Or maybe not expect,” Kaji says, smiling crookedly. He lifts a hand, patting Devan’s that’s around his shoulder. “Work in progress. You’re definitely getting better at things. It can get pretty crazy around, so I think some reactions really can’t be helped.”
Depended upon what one was exposed to back in their world, he realizes. Most strangeness that Kaji’s experienced in this world has been taken in stride or wonder. Magic hadn’t been completely foreign in his version of Earth, robots and superheroes existed of some type or another. And then there was media and fiction, where anything went, and so it was more of a fascination to see things that he’d only seen or read about as actuality in this world.
“You’re absolutely right. Being alone would have made it way more difficult.” He grins again. The worse thing would have been being alone in a strange world.
<~ Agreed. ~> Suss can’t help it. She yawns widely, revealing her sharp little rodent teeth. <~ Can we maybe take another nap now? ~>
Devan preens at Kaji’s praise. He’s getting better, he’s getting better! The Owlman’s feathers poof up all over and he makes a happy chirrping noise. He did not receive much praise back at the Monastery, clearly. “Better!” Oops. Did he say that outloud? That’s a really silly thing, isn’t it? He’s going to pretend that he didn’t. Yes, yes he is.
Kaji and his recent adventure makes Devan consider though, if he’s here and happy to be here, and planning on staying.. perhaps he should start looking for some sort of work. Yes, that is a good idea and plan for tomorrow. After he goes to see how Kaji is learning to fight…because.. because… Devan yawns right after Miss Suss does.
“Whoommmuhmm.. a nap does sound nice.. hadn’t he been sleeping? So much excitement, he’d forgotten all about that! Only now…. the Owlman’s eyes droop. “Ooh you were going to sleep, weren’t you?” Devan asks with a flushed beak. “So sorry.”
The necromancer-in-training laughs again. “Nap sounds good. With less screaming too.” He looks at the mouse’s little box, carefully picking it up to put on the nightstand again. Then he holds his hand out to Miss Frizz. “I can take you back down later. You can nap here for now,” he offers.
Smiling at Devan, he reaches over with his other hand to fluff the owl monk’s feathered head. “It’s okay. We had a good talk. I think my adrenaline rush’s puttered out now, so I could probably sleep.”
Devan bobs his head. “Me tooo. I’ll just head to my room now. I’m sure it’s safe and I do feel a lot better…still sorry for scaring us all though.” The Monk does a goofy little hopping dance as he gets to his feet. “I was just going to hide for a little while and I guess I fell asleep.” He yawns. Sleeeep. It does sound so good. “Later I will show you my flower hat and maybe we can have dinner..” Devan hugs Kaji and offers Miss Suss one of the feathers that came loose in his minibattle beneath the bed. (He will so retell that tale later to anyone who listens, all about how he survived and emerged triumphant and whole from the dark depths of the quaking earth!) Then he wanders out of the room to sleep too.
Suss bobs her head in almost perfect unison with Devan. And it wasn’t planned! She hops off of his knee to Kaji’s hand, then accepts the loose feather in fascination. She looks up at Kaji and then at the feather again.
“Heh heh. Could’ve been worse, I guess.” Kaji pats Devan on the back as he’s hugged, stepping back with Miss Frizz, who he carefully lifts to the nightstand where her bedbox is.
“Ooh, dinner. Yes. And…a flower hat?” Okay, he’s curious now, but that can wait. “See you later, Devan. And you have a good sleep too, Miss Frizz.”
Miss Frizz steps lightly off of Kaji’s hand and climbs back into her bedbox, taking the feather with her. She spends a couple of minutes shuffling everything about inside the box, then finally curls up in her baby sock beanbag with the feather sticking out. <~ Sleep well, Kaji. ~>
Moving beds and screaming boxes! Is Kaji's room haunted?? Brother Devan takes refuge in the strangest place following his Dogwood ordeal.
May 20, 2410