Tales of Monsters
The sudden buzz from her purse causes Naiha to nearly fall off of the mesh seat of the wrought iron chair she's sitting in. Her hand automatically clutches her chest and she slowly exhales. Normally a call from her husband at 9:30pm on a Wednesday night wouldn't cause her such an odd reaction. She's huddled at a table with three strangers in a closed cafe. The man sitting directly in front of her is in the middle of telling tales of monsters on an island she never even knew existed.
"Sorry, I have to take this," Naiha says quietly. The table companions nod and continue talking in their hushed tones. She gets up, takes the buzzing phone out of her pocket and answers. Her husband, Gawn, is reminding her to pick up their son's meds on her way home from work tonight. Their five year-old child suffers from a bone disease which she hopes to find a cure for or at the very least alleviate some of the discomfort associated with it. Naiha left work a few hours early to meet up with this secret group.
The main speaker at the table is a short man with wild eyes. He's admittedly a bit of a conspiracy nut and is responsible for organizing this group. His mission, he's trying to gain interest in planning an illegal trip to this mythical island. Naiha and the other female at the table are both interested in the gemstone supposedly found there. The other man claims to be an ex-government agent. According to him, a little over 10 years ago he'd actually been to the island on a secret mission and claims to have seen and killed a few of these creatures.
His special-ops team was sent to the mysterious island in order to excavate the coveted Bluberri gemstone. Naiha has heard many stories about the powers of the multi-colored stone, mainly that it regenerate bone and enriches the blood - which she is very interested in for her son. If it is at all possible for them to manage a trip to the island, even if she is jailed, it would be worth it. She would know for sure if this stone is the answer she's been looking for or not. Her husband would never allow such a risk, so Naiha plans to keep all of this a secret, however much it pains her to keep this from him.
"In three months we travel," whispers the group organizer,"We will continue to meet once a month for updates, meeting locations to be announced. Maurice will make sure you get the messages."
The group quietly disperses.
Naiha heads to the pharmacy.
Kyit and Her Necklace - Part I
In perfect stillness Kyit dangles her furry arms, legs and tail 20 feet above the forest floor. Down below, her mother is probably not looking for her. Not wondering where she could be on such a late, rainy afternoon. But that doesn't matter, Kyit is now a full 13 Chimaera years old. Old enough to venture out till nightfall and beyond without worried eyes impeding on her freedom. It's her Jaguar blood, she tells herself, accounting for her fierce independence.
With eyes closed and face towards the darkening blurred blue-gray sky above, she appears unaffected by the heavy raindrops incessantly rolling off her thick charcoal-black fur. In fact, she seems to soak it in and release it along with all her cares. Although her entire body lay limp, wet and heavy, she feels very much alive. Her stubby paw lazily reaches for her neck where her Bluberri Stone necklace sits.
Kyit's black paws caress the surface of this mysterious stone. She makes slow circular patterns with her claws against it's hard glassy surface, careful not to risk scratching it. This necklace was given to her at birth, same as with every Chimaera born on Bluberri Island as a welcome gift from all Chimaera. A pulse resonates through her claw and radiates a pleasant energy up her arm until it reaches her heart.
The raindrops lessen and Kyit opens her eyes and watch as the Chimaera Of the Sky, also known as CHAOS resume their flights. They fly in formations of two, three and four - never alone as Kyit lays now. She imagines she is of them, imaginary wings wide open, breathing in the thin air above. A fellow guardian of the sky. Seems exhausting, she thinks. Must be her lazy Panda blood talking. Kyit rolls over on the wet branches and slowly nibbles on a crispy, rain-drenched leaf.
Her ears suddenly perk up when she hears rustling in some nearby trees. At this very instant her Bluberri Stone vibrates along with her nerves as her whole body becomes very alert. Kyit sits up, almost losing her balance on the slippery branches, she listens closely. Her keen sense of hearing can make out muffled voices about five trees away.
Kyit quietly makes her way towards the direction of the voices. She does not sense danger, the only real dangers that have happened on Bluberri Island have been caused by humans about 13 years ago when they came in search of Bluberri Stone. So many deaths, including the death of her very own father before she was even born. Her mother and older brother remember. Haru, her brother, who was only six year old at the time, still has nightmares about it. He tells her she is lucky to have no memories of these events. This often upsets her because she never got a chance to hug or be hugged by their father.
The voices become louder as she nears their source. She counts three winged figures perched on adjacent branches. There's a tall dark figure, who seems to be scalding the other two. One hunched over and the other on all fours. They don't seem to notice her at all. Kyit continues to stare at the group, she studies them closely. What strikes her the most about the tall figure are his large, glossy black wings and his unusual and very high human aspect. She can only see the side of his stern, human-looking face. He throws his very human hands up in resignation. Clearly frustrated at the other two characters. He sighs heavily through those human lips of his. He turns towards her, almost too naturally, it's as if he knew she was watching the three of them, but didn't care. His face. So human. She's never seen anyone so human. And now he's staring straight at her, his face is beautiful. Dark, almost as dark as her black fur. But smooth and.........'fleshy'?
Kyit stares back, frozen. She catches herself and actually does slip off the wet branches this time. Falling, two, four, six feet down before catching onto another branch. Crawling the rest of the way down takes only a half a minute before she reaches the ground and heads towards home. Her head is throbbing, Kyit reaches up and rubs her stubby horns. They are a joke compared to her brother, Haru's handsome thick, curled ram horns.
In no rush to get home, Kyit decides to take the scenic route despite the fact that the sky is now pretty dark. Must preserve that freedom. She continues down the mountains, past the Legendary Caves of Rou. The whole time she cannot stop thinking about the strange, Raven-Human Chimaera she encountered up in the trees. She passes Lake Tor and ruins of the Holy Shrine of Bor, which was destroyed during the Human invasion.
There are barely any Chimaera about, most must be home eating supper with their families or friends, or alone. The nocturnal Chimaera are probably just waking up, probably a little annoyed that the grounds are so wet. As she nears home in the Felid Community, she spots a recognizable and tall figure looming over a fire. He wears a very pleased smile on his huge tiger face. This makes her smile.
Motti turns to look at Kyit, but his beautiful smile quickly fades when he sees her. She quickly recoils, maybe her fur is so disheveled that it's making her look horrific? Broken horns? Is she in trouble? "Whaaaaat?!" She asks him, both eager and afraid to know what killed his pleased look. Motti quickly moves toward her and places his white paw on her chest. "Your Necklace, Kyit, you removed it!?"
Both her paws automatically shoot for her neck and slide under Motti's paw where her Stone should have been. She vigorously shakes her head, "No, I don't know, it was just here, I didn't take it off! It must've gotten lost back in the forest!" Motti frowns, "Oh Kyit, you cannot be so careless with it, you know how important it is." Indeed she did have an idea of how important it is to always wear your Bluberri Stone. This one in particular was her father's, it holds his energy and his heartbeat in it's core along with her own.
"Go on home, Kyit, it's late." Motti tells her, "We will worry about it tomorrow or maybe someone will happen upon it before then." Kyit hopes he's right. Maybe Mother will not notice, she thinks. Impossible. With her head low and eyes perfectly still, she heads home.
Hi, my name's D'arkraveon. I head up training for CHAOS (Chimaera of the Sky) Defense on Bluberri Island. CHAOS Defense was created as a result of an attack on this island 13 years ago. If you ask me, it should have been created long before, preparation like this would have saved countless innocent lives. I was seven years old at the time of the attack but I remember the horror all too clearly.
Today I am training two new recruits. This will definitely be a real challenge given they are from the Mistfits, as opposed to the typical CHAOS from whom we usually recruit. There's not a lot of support for the CHAOS Defense training, so voluteer numbers have been low lately. So I had the brilliant (or not so brilliant, depending on the results) idea of considering some winged Mistfits for the training.
Throughout Bluberri Island there are a number of basic communities. We have the CHAOS of course, we are the Chimaera who have the ability to fly. There are the Felids, a catty bunch, they make up the largest group. Then the Canids, mostly of Wolf and Fox aspects. The Reptids, scaley Chimaera who keep mostly to themselves. And finally we have the Mistfits, what can I say about the Mistfits.
Legend describes it best, I think. Just so you know, I do not believe in these stories, but I do think that knowing them helps shed some light on the culture of our people. Anyway, this is pretty much how it went. Long ago, species of animals and human were unmixed, and still remain so most places outside of this island today. There are several realms that mustn't be breached. However, a pair of mischevious young Giants, or some say Gods, from another realm, named Ur and Orja somehow breached this realm. They destroyed and crumbled our cities and splashed in the oceans etc. etc.
Ur and Orja gathered large, Giant-Sized handfulls of humans and animals, ripping them apart, limb from limb. Placed their pieces in a large volcano, shook it up and dumped the hot, ashen pieces on an island. Soon bored with their 'toys', they returned to their realm. Many years later, as they grew older, they remembered what they had done and began to feel bad for what they did. Because they were too old to travel, they had their children Bilo and Biri return with a powerful stone to hopefully give life back to the lives they crushed. The two children placed the large, multi-colored stone in the center of the island. As attonement Bilo placed a drop of blood and Biri a tear drop on the stone. Apparently this worked and the displaced pieces came to life forming new, haphazard beings. The Chimaera. The Chimaera called this stone that gave life to them Bilo-Biri, which over the years, became known as Bluberri Stone.
Back to my reason for mentioning this story in the first place. The Chimaera are creatures that have been pieced together, and the Mistfits are pretty much the spare parts. The odd pieces that don't quite fit together well but would be a shame to waste.
So, my trainees have arrived. Late. I had the two brothers meet me at Wood Rock in the North Desert area of Bluberri Island. It's a beautiful day, so I won't let their lateness dampen my rare pleasant mood. Meet Flui and Fluya. An odd enough Rat-Tailed duo of Hyena and Bat aspects. Fluya stands upright, has stripes, his right wing is crumpled, but still somewhat functional. Flui prefers to crawl on all fours, less evolved if you ask me. He is spotted, a bit stronger than Fluya but with smaller wings. I worry about his ability to fly long distances.
"Iz pleazzzure to wuk wits you, Duckravon" Says Fluya. "It's 'D'arkraveon', but we'll work on that later," I reply. Fluya nods. Flui absentmindedly stares off into the sky. "Flui, us train now wits Duckravon," Fluya tells his older brother and Flui nods and turns to face me. This should be fun. "Before we get to weapons training, I would like to start out with some hand-to-hand combat." I tell them.
Strangly enough, the first few days of training go pretty well. We do most of our training around Wood Rock. The next couple of weeks we take it to the thick Forests in the Mountains. Both Fluya and Flui have been having some difficulty keeping up with me in the air, but they're coming along fine enough.
For the final day of Phase One of CHAOS Defense Training, I want to take advantage of the rainy weather. I decide to have Flui and Fluya do basic flying exercises, sneak attack and trapping which they've mastered quite well. But now with the rain adding an added difficulty, I am anxious to see what they could do.
I wait for the two Hyena-Bat trainees at Wood Rock. They are running late as usual. So I wait. And wait. And wait, the rain pours steadily heavy, maybe they've lost their way. After about an hour, the rain lets up and I see many CHAOS resuming flight. I spot a long, elegant, winged Chimaera soaring above me. I shake off the raindrops from my black feathers and catch up with her in the sky.
"Good afternoon Kijs!" I say, as we glide alongside each other. "D'ark, nice to see you, I thought were training your new guys." She says, in her smooth, cat-like purr. She is a mix of Caracal and Blue Bird, she's the tallest of the CHAOS. I try to hold back my annoyance at the thought of Flui and Fluya. "Yea," I reply, my jaw clenches a little "They never showed." Kijs shakes her head. She isn't a fan of the whole CHAOS Defense, she believes it is unnecessary and pretty much a waste of time and energy.
We fly around for a bit, sort of surveying the Island. While flying over the Forest I spot two, odd-looking Rat-Tailed creatures snoring in the trees below. "I'll catch up with you later, Kijs, I think I've just spotted my slackers." She smiles, her pearly white fangs visible. "Okay, go easy on them." My jaw clenches even harder. I swoop down and Flui and Flula both sit up at the same time.
"Duckkkkrayyvonnn.....?" Fluya says groggily. My jaw is now at maximum clench, I can't even speak. Flui licks away his own saliva from his matted cheek fur. I manage to speak and it's not pretty at all. I hadn't realized how upset I was with them. I may have called them a few names, may have insulted the entire Mistfits community with these slurs. Both Flui and Fluya just watch me, expressionless.
I hear some rustling in the trees, so when I am finished with my rant, I turn to see who/what is there. She's just a Black Jaguar and Panda mix with small, swirling horns atop her head. A young Chimaera. She stares back at us and soon loses her footing.
Peering down, I see that she is okay and has resumed her careful descent to the forest floor. I turn back to Flui and Fluya, "We resume training at first light, Wood Rock" I tell the two Mistfits and promptly fly away as Flui's 'Gudbye' trails and fades behind me.
Within the Legendary Caves of Rou
Dead in the center of an Island breathes an unnatural cavity within the earth. Tunneling itself through endless kilometers of pitch-black silence, it wears a heavy cloak of foul, rotting air. Countless generations of tiny, blind Rou Rats have crawled along its thick, damp dirt feeding on the pulses of a nearby stone.
Hunched at the entrance of this primitive cave stands the oldest living Chimaera on Bluberri Island. His ancient serpentine body burrows deep within the Caves. Scaly snake skin merges with a chininous exoskeleton along his upper body and face. Roach-like and wrinkled, expressionless and wise. Lying buried in his eyesockets sit two very bright, multi-colored stones.
Soon the songs of distant voices lull him to sleep. His crystal eyes flicker and dim and his hunched shoulders fall into a quiet, steady rhythm.
Kyit and Her Necklace - Part II
The walk home feels like an eternity, Kyit feels each and every one of her heartbeats. Loud and forceful. Her furry legs begin to tremble as she approaches her dwelling, which is a low, modest treehouse with a staircase of stacked, flat stones leading up to the entryway. Quietly, she sneaks into her home and creeps into her bamboo bed.
Kyit closes her eyes tight, trying her best to steady her racing heart. It only grows heavier and faster. Soon a slow tear escapes her right eye and crawls down the side of her fat, furry face and disappears into her thick fur. Her heart stops when she hears her mother's footsteps approaching.
Kyit's throat is so tight that she cannot even speak to say 'Hi'. Her mother speaks first, "In bed already?" Kyit manages to mumble something in reply. "How's your father?" Her mother asks, in a calm, purr-like manner. No, this is not a sick joke, she often asks this, more often than she asks how her own, living daughter is doing. She is referring to Kyit's Bluberri Stone, which he wore until his death 13 Chimaera years ago.
Before Kyit can reply, her mother places her hand where the stone should be resting on her child's chest. Realizing that all that's there is her soft, naked fur, she quickly moves her hand around , groping her claws deeply into Kyit's fur in search of it. "Ouch! Momae!" She yells. Because of the darkness, all Kyit can see are the glow of her eyes, sharp, piercing, angry. "Kyit!" She shreiks, "The Stone?! The Eclipse is happening! Oh Kyit!"
Her mother quickly leaves, leaving Kyit sore from the aggressive search for the Stone.
Chaera rushes out of her dwelling, down the flat stone steps and into the dark night. She presses her Gray Wolf paws hard against her Jaguar face and sobs. Ever since the loss of her husband, Kyit's father, she just hasn't been the same. She's felt as though she has just been in a state of waiting. Waiting for the inevitable vanishing of all Chimaera.
Chaera's mother used to tell her when she was a small child the importance of Bluberri Stone. She would hold her close to her soft Panda chest, her stone warm and calming next to Chaera's little Wolf ear. She would tell her stories about, through different scenarios, how if all Bluberri Stone was removed or destroyed, all that would be left on the island is ash and bones.
The birth of her daughter was only the beginning of a tragic end. She knew it, she felt it, she saw it. Chaera carried her daughter for only 40 days, a very unnatural gestational period for them and only 40 hours after her husband lost his life. It's believed that the number 40 signifies a major shift or change, for her, she believes it to be a sign of the Eclipse, or fall of the Chimaera.
Because Chaera felt so strongly in her heart that this child was a sign, she gave her the name Kyit, meaning Eclipse, or Downfall. Probably as a reminder. As a warning. Or maybe simply because she so deeply mourned the loss of Axes, her husband. And now finding out that Kyit would lose something so precious just confirmed even more, in her heart, that her people would soon be ash and bones.
Kyit sits up and carefully rubs her sore chest. Her eyes are full of tears, she doesn't know whether they are more the result of the physical or emotional pain. She bets on emotional. Kyit hears slow hoofbeats nearing her bed. She looks up and it's Haru, a horned wolf-faced Chimaera with beautiful Jaguar spots running down his neck and arms.
Kyit's older brother places his arms around her and they sit like this, completely still until Kyit stops crying. "Momae just told me what happened, Kyit," he says quietly, "She said she didn't mean to hurt you." Kyit looks him in the eyes, "Haru, why does she hate me so much? I mean, even before I lost the Necklace......" He shakes his head, "I think she just misses Dadae sometimes." Kyit lowers her eyes, "Maybe because you look so much like him, she loves you?" Haru laughs a little, "It's not that simple. Deep down I believe Momae does love you. She really should not have put her claws on you tonight...or ever." He hugs his little sister again, "Get some sleep, we'll find your Necklace, don't you worry."
As Haru stands up to leave, Kyit grabs his hand. "Haru, if we don't find it, what do you think will happen?" He looks at her, sighs, and sits back down. "We will find it. But if we don't, I'm sure we can get you a new one." Kyit nods, "Momae says we will vanish without these Stones.....do you believe that? Could our existence be this fragile? Is there nothing more to us? Maybe we're not meant to be here in the first place......" Haru's eyes grow larger, and more intense. "Kyit! Don't talk like this!" His voice comes out harsher than he intends, and Kyit turns her head to the side. He sees her reaction and softens his voice, "I wish Momae wouldn't tell you these things, she doesn't know for sure."
Haru gets up to leave again. "Good night, Kyit." He kisses her forehead and leaves. Kyit lays down and curls up on her bamboo bed. Her stomach growls. Her mind races. Her scratched chest hurts. She closes her eyes, still thinking. What if they, the Chimaera, truly are unnatural and should not exist. If the stories of legend are true, their entire existence is just the result of a mistake that was made. And then later, weirdly rectified. Her heart sinks, she pushes away these thoughts and falls asleep.
The distant songs of early-bird Chimaera gently rouse the sleeping Chimaera in the grassy Canid Community. The cheerful melody is abruptly interrupted by a loud thump and groan from inside WolfCat's small den-like living space. Snickering quickly erupts from a small pack of Wolf-aspect Chimaera. Within the 'den', WolfCat finds himself face-down on the dirt floor beside the raised hollow of his sleeping nook.
WolfCat attempts to sit up, but is quickly thrown back into his ridiculous position in the dirt. Realizing what's happened, he quickly unties his long cat tail from a thick root above him. He growls in frustration at the situation. He has a pretty accurate guess as to who's behind this prank. WolfCat then licks his tail to smoothen out its gray and white fur. Because he's had a late night, he's just not in the mood to bother with his Wolf-aspect bullies he's hearing just outside.
His sister, Chaera, visited him last night complaining of something. She worries too much, he feels. She mentioned his niece, Kyit losing something and also something about an eclipse. They took a long walk during the long night and visited Axes' grave stones. Chaera sat on the cool wet dirt and cried. WolfCat hugged his sister and they sat there for a few hours before they separated, heading to their chosen communities.
After breakfast WolfCat leaves his 'den', he's headed to the Mountains. He has a very important meeting with Roche, who lives in the Legendary Caves of Rou. Within a minute of leaving, he hears the small group of Wolf-aspect Chimaera talking amongst each other and his tail begins to involuntarily twitch in annoyance. "Good Mornae, CatWolf!!" a voice calls after him. It's Chants, he's surrounded by his pack, Juuso and Word. This is annoying, WolfCat thinks to himself. The pack approaches him with foolishly large grins on their faces. "Good Mornae." WolfCat replies to the whole group, looking them straight in the eyes, not smiling at all.
"Where are you headed this fine morning, CatWolf?" Word asks, making sure to stress the word 'cat' in case WolfCat hadn't notice the deliberate misordering of his name by Chants. "Finally decided to go back where you belong in the Felid Community?" Chants asks. WolfCat continues to stare them in the eyes, still not amused by their antics. 'Meow,' Juuso mocks, looking up with very amused, purple eyes. "To the Mountains..." WolfCat answers, "...To help Chaera look for something." He lies about the second part. They mustn't know why he's going to the Mountains.
With that, the three just walk away, WolfCat believes it's the word 'help' that turned them off. He smiles to himself.
WolfCat has a secret crush on the beautiful, one-horned Kailin. She is a young Fox, Deer and Giraffe aspect Chimaera. WolfCat has not yet spoken a word to her, but plans to change this very soon. He is extremely hopeful that his meeting with Roche will turn things around for him. He doesn't have much time because he knows Chants has feelings for her also.
Just as the Canid Community disappears from view, WolfCat begins to walk past the Mistfit Community, he cannot stop thinking about Kailin. Thinking about her seems to make him forget his little Wolf Pack problem. He imagines her fluffy orange fox tail and long neck and lashes. Her laugh is like a million drops of magic honeybee rain hugs. WolfCat, you are losing your mind, what are magic honeybee rain hugs? He thinks to himself and smiles again.
As he passes by the unsightly Mistfit shacks on the outskirts of their community, he notices Flui and Fluya huddle together in a very suspicious manner. Their rat tails are both covered in mud and their fur is scraggled and matted. "Good Mornae, Flui. Good Mornae Fluya!" They don't seem to hear him. WolfCat continues along the stony pathway up the Mountain.
It takes about 30 minutes for him to reach Roche at the entrance of the Rou Caves. But he began to feel the deathly stench of rotten earth on his fur for the past 10 minutes. He sees Roche before Roche sees him. When Roche sees him, his deep-set Bluberri Stone eyes seem to light up. "WolfCat, Good Mornae." His voice croaks. "Good Mornae, Roche. I am happy to see you, I hope I am not too early." Roche smiles and his wrinkled face seems to almost crack and crumble away if the air wasn't so thick and heavy.
"You are just on time." Roche slowly turns his body towards the cave's cavity to reach for something. A small family of Rou Rats escape and scamper to the adjoining cave. WolfCat watches them disappear and when he turns to face Roche again he has something furry in his thin, chitinous arms. "It's perfect!", WolfCat gasps and steps forward to touch Roche's gift to him.