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    dichotomy - di· chot· o· my (n) \dī-ˈkä-tə-mē\
    1. A division or contrast between two things that are or are represented as being opposed or entirely different.
    2. Something with seemingly contradictory qualities.

    “We've all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on.
    That's who we really are.”
    ~J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix


    Lyra Brightstar -- youngest Keeper in over a century, one of the two Generals of the United Army, raised to incapacitate nearly from birth -- woke with a foreign pressure on her chest, centered directly over her heart.

    A few years ago, perhaps even a few months ago, it would have been enough to send her, if not into panic, then into a cool and practiced defensive maneuver, throwing off a weight up to nearly three times her own, prepared to twist an arm painfully behind a shoulder, or dislocated a jaw. Granted, there hadn't been much of a need for anything like that (though there were still plenty of bitter memories on both sides, and Lyra had dealt with her fair share of violence in the three years since the war) in some time.

    But a Keeper never forgot.

    Only a select few would have recognized Lyra was no longer sleeping as she assessed the threat. Her breathing did not change; even her heart rate remained the same. But she was awake, and so she was dangerous. Her mate slept on beside her, and even her enemies knew she would let nothing befall him.

    The weight on her chest crept inexorably upward, threatening to choke the breath from her lungs. The Lyra of year's past would have already dispatched with the thing.

    This was not that Lyra.

    In a flash, tangerine eyes sprang open as two arms, lithe with wiry muscles, came up to seize the thing on her chest. With a single, deft movement, Lyra had rolled, shielding her mate with her body to imprison their attacker between herself and the bed beneath her.

    "Nice try," she said coolly.

    The creature shrieked.

    "Nooo, Auntie Rya!"

    Three-year-old Tairisa Stormborn -- Tai'risNya to her father's people, and simply Tai to most -- giggled that infectious giggle that had ruthlessly dragged so many into helpless adoration, chubby legs pumping beneath her as she struggled to escape Lyra's clutches.

    Lyra managed to keep a straight face, though it was only after years of practice. The Keeper had never thought herself the type to appreciate or bond with children, but Tai and her sister had always been special. They were the first twins ever born to the Cerebrae race, for example. They had been born just days after the war that had changed the lives of virtually every living thing on the planet.

    They were also the children of the legend, quite literally.

    It had been three years since Moridryn'aKyno and Aurora Skyfall had been referred to as Kaloranis and the Maiden, but it had never faded from public memory or opinion. Even the Prodigies and the purple Aavan that so often worked with them still had not been able to find a name for what the two young lovers had done in their time, and the Cerebrae were finally beginning to understand they might never do so.

    Tai and her sister, Koheera -- Kohe -- were miracles, legends, bedtime stories, fairy tales. They were many things.

    But to Lyra, they were simply her two young nieces, and they had won her heart.

    It had been very straight forward with Tai. The younger of the twins cried only on rare occasions, and even then, it seemed half-hearted, as if she knew she was playing the role of 'infant' and would much rather be laughing at something. And most times, she was. She delighted most everyone she met, and had an almost uncanny ability to lift the spirits of those around her with a glance or a touch. She was not quite so independent as her sister -- on the contrary, she loved people, and loved to be held. The two girls spent as much time in the chair of diplomacy as their overbearing parents (and, on occasion, Lyra and her mate) would allow, but it had never seemed to bother Tai. She was happy to travel and meet new people. In fact, so long as she was not made to sit by bored or alone for too long, she was happy nearly all the time. She had a tendency to grow fussy when her older sister wasn't in her sights, but it was a problem easily solved, as the two were almost inseparable anyway.

    That, and charming little Tai could wrap even the surliest of people around her chubby little finger in an instant. In fact, there were times when she'd have sworn the only person to ever say 'no' to Tai was her older sister.

    Kohe'Erana had been an unusual child from birth. She was, of course, no less loved than her sister, but she was far more complex than anyone had ever known a child to be. She was quiet and thoughtful where Tai was bubbly and outgoing. She was serious and deliberate where Tai seemed to take every instance, person, place, and experience at face value. Even their appearances belied their twinship. Tai was shorter than her sister, all round cheeks and chubby fists. Kohe was taller, thinner, lithe for her age in a way that had sent Rora into a raging panic, suspecting for a time Kohe was seriously ill.

    And Tai had her father's eyes precisely -- a trait that made Rora especially susceptible to her daughter's whims -- where Kohe's were dual-toned, one a fiery scarlet, the other a rich sapphire.

    Still, Lyra could not place the precise moment she had fallen in love with the children of her mates brother. Most could not. Whether it was Tai's infectious ecstasy, or Kohe's strange yet endearing seeming to know a person, lovingly, intimately, it didn't much matter. For now, the girls were simply that -- girls. Loving and loved, unaffected by status or titles.

    Lyra was not so naive as to think it would be that way forever. But she would keep them here -- safe -- as long as she could.


    Lyra looked down to where Tai had stopped struggling. There was still the gleam of a mischievous grin in her violet eyes, but now they studied her, as if searching for something.

    "S'wong?" said Tai, lisping slightly around fangs that seemed too large for her mouth as she reached out a chubby hand to touch Lyra's cheek, her eyes wide with wonder and concern. Tai did not share her sister's uncanny ability to know a person, but she was beginning to share her mother's empathy.

    Lyra smiled and scooped the toddler up again, rolling to hold Tai aloft once more. Immediately, she began to giggle and scream once more, velvety wings half twitching behind her, though Lyra noticed she watched her aunt more carefully now.

    "Shhh," Lyra said gently, lowering her niece to settle on her chest. "You'll wake your uncle. Where's your sister, little one?" It was rare Tai went anywhere without her older twin. For a girl who so loved to meet new people, Tai could be remarkably shy about doing anything without Kohe's blessing.

    Lyra was not surprised when Tai whirled to point at the door to the room where Kohe stood quietly, half studying the whole scene with mismatched eyes...half asleep on her feet, a red and blue blanket tucked under one arm, her tail coiled behind her. Lyra felt her heart melt all over again as she stood, Tai balanced on one hip, to go collect the other child.

    "Good morning, Kohe," she said indulgently as she stooped to settle the older twin on her other hip, wondering how long it would be before she could hold both children at once. "Did you sleep well?"

    She didn't expect an answer -- or at least not a spoken one -- but she wasn't worried. Lyra knew if there was anything wrong with Kohe, Tai would have come running. And that only if her mate (let alone the child's parents) hadn't suspected trouble first. The twins had no wont of love in their lives.

    Smiling, wreathed by her young nieces, Lyra walked back to her bed to kneel by her mate, the other General of the United Army, with a strange story by his own right.

    She leaned over and kissed him, first on the cheek, and then longer, more indulgently -- though still chaste, keenly aware both twins were studying them -- before leaning back.

    "Wake up, love," she said, her mind expanding gently in his. "We've company."

    • Love Love x 1
  2. Green eyes opened indulgently, far more for the kiss than anything else, and Rask let his slitted gaze travel first to his mate, the smile on his lips growing even as his mind flooded with love for her, before he got to the two young ones near her. The smile grew softer, fonder for the children as his eyes opened further and Rask yawned for a moment, eliciting a giggle from Tai, before he raised a brow at them both.

    "Waking your Aunt Lyra again? Now which one of you could it have been..." As if he didn't know. Tai's beaming face and sparkling violet eyes gave her away instantly and he chuckled, reaching out to poke the younger twin in the stomach before focusing on the elder. Kohe still appeared to be half asleep and she blinked at him owlishly, snuggling into Lyra's shoulder with a soft smile. Rask smiled back, reaching out to touch her fingers, eliciting a prompt response from said fingers as they wrapped around his own in a small fist.

    "U'cle Ras, 'm hunry."

    Voice soft and her eyes still blinking sleepily, Rask knew he didn't have a chance. He dared to look at Tai then, but knew as soon as he did so that he was truly doomed. How the twins' parents managed to get anything done was beyond him. His entire world was wrapped up in these two when he was around them, but then again, Rask knew he was a bit biased. He had endured nearly thirty years of torture and coming back in time to protect them.

    Maybe a little biased. But only a bit.

    The gold Aavan chuckled and sat up, running his hand back through his shaggy hair. He'd cut it nearly two years ago, into the kind of style Ras'K had always worn and had kept it that way ever since. It was easier to manage and he felt it gave him more of a connection to who he had been, something Rask was still learning to accept as not being a terrible thing. Right now it just made him look far more relaxed and sleepy himself as gold hair brushed over his eyes as he looked to Lyra.

    "I suppose we should feed the bottomless pits then. Not that they deserve it." Green eyes snapped to Tai, only half-heartedly giving her a stern look that he knew she wouldn't take seriously at all. "I heard that squealing, you little monster."

    At this, Kohe smiled and the expression lit up her mismatched eyes. "Twied to stop her."

    Rask chuckled and ruffled her black-white hair. "I'm sure you did." His hands moved to snatch Tai away from Lyra then, scooping her into his arms where he proceeded to tickle her belly. "No one can stop this monster, though! We're all doomed to be woken by her forever!"
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  3. Tai squealed with delighted laughter, and Lyra felt her own stern expression finally crumble. She smiled in whole-hearted adoration at her mate and her niece as her arms came around to support Kohe against her belly. She ducked her head to nuzzle Kohe's, mismatched eyes boring deep into tangerine. Lyra's smile went softer, more quietly reverent as she bounced her niece a bit.

    "What?" she asked gently. "What are you thinking about, hm, little pia?" Again, she expected no answer, but she found Kohe's thoughtful silences endearing as they were strange. Tai had learned to talk before her sister, but it was Kohe who'd managed full sentences first. Such was the way Kohe did everything, as if no movement or action went unconsidered. She knew her young niece could confuse, and even unsettle some, but there was nothing but love in Lyra's heart for the older twin.

    Lyra chuckled to herself after a moment, shifting Kohe to a hip again as she wandered out to the kitchen, stifling a yawn with a smile.

    "Well, then, come on, my little pia. Guess we ought to get a head start, hm? Heaven knows if we don't move, those two never will." She made a face at Tai, and then shot a teasing glance to Rask, though there was a question behind it, unspoken.

    She knew he didn't like it when she fretted over him -- just like she knew Tai could sense her worry -- so for his sake, she tried not to. But she'd felt the brief memory drift through his mind as he ran a hand through his hair. And as warm as he was with Tai and Kohe, they'd never actually heard his voice. No one hand in nearly three years now.

    Lyra had left behind guilt and self-loathing after the war, but the recollection of their first few weeks in the Bond still made her stomach twist. She no longer had nightmares of Rask's screaming, of the last time she'd ever heard him speak. But she knew also she would never forget.

    Lyra realized it had gone silent as Tai's laughter slowly died, violet eyes drifting to watch Lyra and Kohe in mingled confusion and concern.

    "Aun' Rya?"

    Lyra shook herself and grinned, leaning in to plant a kiss atop Kohe's dark-light head on instinct. "What is it, little monster?"

    Tai stared another moment, then pouted, pointing at her belly from Rask's arms. Then she pointed at her sister. "Kohe hungee."

    At that, Lyra laughed aloud. She had no doubt Tai was able to tell when her sister needed something. It was only the notion that she so liberally used Kohe as an excuse.

    "Oh, Kohe's hungry, is she?" Lyra teased, raising her eyebrows at her older niece. "Do you see how quick she is to toss you into the fire?" She smiled and left for the kitchen, calling behind her.

    "Tell your uncle to hurry and make you some breakfast, Tai!"

    Tai broke into a grin all over again, turning to face Rask and placing one tiny hand on either side of his face. She pulled him toward her to rest her forehead against his, her platinum locks falling into her eyes, untamed.

    "Ung Ras, Kohe hungee."
    • Love Love x 1
  4. Kohe merely looked at her Aunt with quiet, solemn eyes, but there was no unhappiness to be seen. Just a simple content that needed no words. And she really was a child of few words, even when she said them. Nothing was ever said without reason, nor was it said hurriedly or untruly. Kohe seemed to possess a strange wisdom beyond her age that threw most adults. They didn't know how to handle her and it was only thanks to Tai that Kohe got along so well with others, especially children around their own age. It was her sister's easy nature and joyful aura that drew people and helped them overlook the elder twin's piercing blue and red eyes.

    Said eyes watched Lyra closely, hardly understanding what she knew or how she knew it, too young to contemplate or wonder at such things. But it didn't mean she didn't know what she did and the little hybrid knew in that moment that her Aunt was worried for her Uncle, about something bad, but not something recent.

    She didn't speak of it, though, not knowing the words, but that was all right because Aunt Lyra and Uncle Rask were not unhappy. If they were unhappy, then she would need to find the words, but they weren't and her tummy was rumbling again and Tai was being silly. And Kohe smiled, the knowing forgotten in a wave of soft giggles as Lyra carried her away into the kitchen, her strange eyes meeting her Uncle's green ones over Lyra's shoulder before they were both lost from sight.

    And Rask felt that slight nudge in his mind again, like he was missing something highly important, but in an instant it was gone again, his attention focused once more on Tai. His expression softened for her and his heart warmed all over again at her gesture of affection, his own much larger hand coming to smooth her unruly hair back with great fondness.

    If there was anyone in second place for loving the twins, it was Rask. Their parents loved them the most, there was not question about that, but Rask was not far behind. They had him curled around their fingers and they were embedded so deeply in his heart that he knew to lose them would break him into a thousand pieces. He would live, he had Lyra, but he'd never be the same again.

    Such thoughts were fleeting, though, as his mind focused on far happier things. Such as laughing in amusement at the younger twin, scooping her up once more as he rose from the bed, in nothing but sleep pants, but knowing no one in this household would mind. Lyra certainly wasn't going to protest and the twins had long ago seen his scars. They were merely fascinated with them, not understanding what had caused them and rightly so. They were far too young to know such things.

    "Kohe's hungee, you say?" He looked down at the little one and grinned, bending his head to fluff her belly even as he walked into the kitchen. Amid the shrieks of laughter, his voice was clear in Tai's mind. "Oh, I don't know. I think the little monster might be more hungee than her sister. She was the one hunting this morning, coming to eat her Uncle! Maybe I'll just eat the little monster instead."

    Rask blew into Tai's belly again as she squirmed and then chuckled, swinging her away from his chest and plopping her in her chair beside her twin, tousling her wild hair as he did so. Kohe was left to distract Tai then as the gold Aavan moved to his mate and wrapped his arms around her waist, placing a gentle and chaste, but affectionate kiss to the back of her neck before his head came to rest on her shoulder, looking at the counter before her.

    "So, what's for breakfast? We have hungee little ones to feed."
  5. Tai was making monster faces at her sister, baring tiny fangs in a grimace more endearing than frightening, chubby hands raised into a playful mockery of the claws she would never actually have, when Rask came up behind Lyra. She shivered indulgently at the feeling of his lips on her neck. Three years since they'd Bonded, and his touch could still turn her skin to fire. Today, though, she only giggled and turned her head to kiss him back. The twins were distracted, but with Tai, at least, distractions lasted only a moment.

    Even so, it wasn't as though anything in particular would happen in front of the twins. Lyra felt her mind wander briefly, felt a flush creep up her neck, and quickly tamped out that line of thought. Mori and Rora had only been gone a day. It wasn't as though she and Rask were starved for affection. She was simply...curious. Curious, and terrified.

    She shook herself again and reached behind herself to lace her fingers through Rask's, unable to resist turning around to face him, planting another brief kiss on his lips, perched on tiptoe.

    "According to Rora's Almanac? Or just common sense?" she asked wryly as she began to pull bowls and spoons from a cabinet. It was not the first time -- far from it -- the twins had been left in their care. Rora and Mori were three years out from their roles as Kaloranis and the Maiden, but the world was far from finished with its own changes. A new settlement across the plains had seen a recent jump in Cerebrae-Aavan bonds, and the pair had been called away on short notice. The twins had been thrilled -- of all their many family members, Rask and Lyra were the ones they interacted with most, at least once a day, every day -- but they still delighted in spending the night in relatively foreign territory.

    Rora, however, had not been, and never was, quite so keen. She'd left impossibly detailed instructions on precisely how to care for the twins, as she did every time, as though Lyra and Rask hadn't known the twins nearly from birth -- and Rask, in some ways, even longer. She'd still been blurting emergency advice when Mori finally had to drag her away, and Lyra had stood there, bouncing Kohe on a hip, knowing better than to laugh or roll her eyes. Rora's temper had improved after the twins' birth. But she could still bring a house down if she thought you were going to endanger her children.

    "Did you hunt yesterday? There's some fresh starfruit I can mash for them, but the meat will hold them longer."

    Lyra, like Rora, had more or less gotten used to preparing food for the twins, though the smell of fresh meat still turned her stomach. It was rare for Cerebrae to partake in meat, but Rora had hesitated only a moment after learning the twins liked it, a like trait from their father's side. It was just one of many ways Tai and Kohe toed the line between their cultures, something both families had agreed on. They had lived in an Aavan settlement for just over a year now, and were not familiar with many Cerebrae outside of Rora and Lyra. But they recognized, at least visually, they were different. They showed no fear of Aavan in their larger forms, and Lyra knew Tai, at least, was positively thrilled when Rask or Mori grew upwards -- perhaps, she suspected, because the toddler was beginning to realize what her own wings were for, much to Rora's horror.

    Lyra pulled out a knife and began chopping starfruit into smaller pieces to mash, saving the rind to juice later when Tai inevitably woke early from her nap and demanded something to sate her sweet tooth.

    Behind her, Tai had shifted closer to Kohe, violet eyes watching carefully, full aware her sister was generally first to catch onto most things. Rora had always adored the way Tai so looked up to her twin, equal parts reverent and protective. Kohe, likewise, had always been patient with her more dependent sister, never seeming to mind when Tai wanted to cuddle close, sharing cribs, blankets, and pillows in their earlier months.

    Lyra herself had never quite understood how the two communicated, but she was certain they did. Siya had studied them for long hours before they'd learned to speak, when they would lie side by side, staring at each other. Nothing visible would pass between them, and yet they would laugh or smile at the same time.

    Now, Tai leaned over, pressing her forehead to her sister's temple without a word, waiting.

    An image of Rora, then Mori flashed through her mind. Tai frowned, questioning.

    Do you know where Mama and Papa are?
  6. Rask would never tire of Lyra's reaction to his affection. Even after three years, she could awaken his primal instinct with merely a glance and yet melt away any tension with just a touch. Even after so long she had complete control over him if she wished it and he never begrudged her one moment of that power. She never abused it and in fact seemed nervous about it, which only endeared him to her even more.

    And now, now he gave her a soft smile, green eyes briefly glittering at the thoughts that flittered through her mind like small birds through the brush, but the gold threads didn't pursue them, merely vibrating in silent mirth as he kissed his mate back before releasing her to her task. A chuckle sounded in his mind at her words of the twins' mother.

    Rora was indeed a force to be reckoned with and of the two parents, Mori was definitely the calmer and more level-headed. He kept Rora in check even as he was a terror to be reckoned with in his own right. If anyone was foolish enough to think that his more even-keeled demeanor regarding his family was a sign of weakness or lack of vigilance, they were soon painfully proven wrong.

    Still, if one wanted to deal with a problem regarding the twins....going to Mori was the wiser decision.

    "I hunted, yes. I'll get the meat." he offered before giving the Keeper another brief kiss on the cheek before departing for the cellar. He was unaware that little Kohe watched him closely even as she felt Tai's head against her temple. She'd made scrunched and amused faces back at her sister, entertained by Tai's expressions, but now she seemed to have grown quiet again and her twin's question only increased the solemness.

    Scarlet and sapphire eyes looked into violet then and Kohe smiled gently, comfortingly as she brushed small fingers over Tai's cheek. They are helping others. They are not far and should be back soon. she assured and then smiled more widely, mismatched eyes sparkling as if she'd discovered something wonderful.

    We're going swimming today, Tai!
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  7. Lyra almost jumped as the silence behind her was broken by a sudden squealing giggle from -- of course -- Tai. It had been a long while since anyone, in particular, the twins, had had to worry about dangers beyond the usual, but Lyra had been a Keeper and a General far too long. The Aavan settlement had been nothing but receptive to her. Still, there were times when she and Rask were on their own, when he took her flying, and she looked down at the forests and plains and wondered at all the creatures her people had yet to discover, creatures who made the Aavan they had once fought and trained against seem tame as house pets.

    Lyra knew she would never have share the bond Rask did with the twins, but she also knew she would not hesitate to sacrifice herself for their safety, for Rask's sake, if not their own. She knew what they meant to him, to Rora and Mori. And she knew, far more than most, how important the two were to a peaceful future. For both the Aavan and Cerebrae, but especially for Rask.

    And while she was more than capable of defending the twins herself, if something large -- perhaps one of those things Rask called a Truscor -- had somehow found its way in, she knew she would only be good for taking the twins and running. Tai had not yet learned how to fly, and she sometimes wondered whether Kohe had a violent bone in her body. Tai was undoubtedly the more bubbly of the two, but she could be possessive of her sister. And adorably, hilariously cranky if she went too long without a nap or seeing Kohe.

    Now, though, it seemed the two were just sharing another of their strange and wonderful conversations. Lyra turned around just in time to Tai pull back from her sister, wobble on her knees, and plant a clumsy kiss on her twin's cheek before erupting into giggles again.

    And again, Lyra couldn't help but laugh as she dished out two small bowls of fruit pulp. The twins loved fruit -- and Tai loved getting it in her hair -- but it was the meat that kept them strong and growing.

    "What is it?" she asked, putting a hand out to stroke Kohe's hair, run a gentle fingertip along one of Tai's wings. "Hm? Are you going to tell me, little monster? No? How 'bout you, my pia?"

    Kohe might have been able to keep a secret, but Tai never could. Her excitement gave her away almost immediately. She knew her sister had been right the moment she'd spoken. Kohe was quiet, something Tai always kept an eye on, in case she was ever in trouble and couldn't say. But she was always right, too. And like Tai, she seemed always to know how the grown-ups were feeling, though she seemed to have a better idea of why. She paid close attention to that, too. If Kohe thought Papa was tired or Mama was scared (Mama worried about a lot of things), then Tai would try extra hard to be good. It wouldn't last very long, but Mama always smiled when Tai tried.

    Tai had never thought it was strange her sister seemed to know things before others did. It was just something her sister could do, just like Tai could sometimes make it lighter in their bedroom if it was too dark and Kohe was scared.

    Tai didn't ask how Kohe knew about the swimming. She only knew her sister was right and her sister was happy, and they were going swimming, and that was more than enough for her.

    "Simmeen!" she cried, throwing chubby arms into the air and beaming in utter adoration at her sister. "Kohe say simmeen!"

    Lyra didn't bother hiding the surprise on her face. Even she hadn't known they'd be taking the twins swimming that day -- though she'd given it a fleeting though when she'd woken up sweating the night before, knowing it was going to be hot. She blinked at Tai, then changed her gaze to Kohe, who held it evenly. Lyra stared long and hard, as if she expected to find the answer there, knowing she wouldn't. Finally, she chuckled and shrugged, leaning down to kiss the top of Kohe's head.

    "You two are going to rule the world one day," she muttered, mostly to herself.
    #7 DotCom, May 31, 2014
    Last edited: May 31, 2014
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  8. Kohe giggled at her sister's antics, but she held Lyra's gaze with an unfathomable expression in her own young eyes until her Aunt made light of it. But the elder twin knew the Keeper truly did no such thing and Lyra's words had scarlet and sapphire eyes snapping to tangerine and for a moment it was not a child that looked at Lyra but something else entirely, something the Keeper would have never seen before. It was something ancient and Kohe smiled softly as if she were the elder here and not her doting Aunt.

    "Not two. Four." she answered gently and then the moment passed and the child looked away from Lyra and to her twin, giggling again as Tai continued to celebrate their fun-filled day ahead of them. Whatever had come over Koheera was gone and the three year old was back as she grimaced and protested Tai's smearing hands touching her own hair.

    She didn't want to be sticky!

    But still something was keenly aware of when Rask came in, already chuckling. "Did I hear something about swimming?" He paused, growing quiet immediately when he caught sight of Lyra's face and set the meat on the counter with a frown before approaching his mate with a glance from her to the twins, instinctively knowing something had happened but unsure as to what.


    She appeared almost to have seen a ghost or maybe puzzled? Shocked? He couldn't seem to get a pinpoint on her emotions and his fingers brushed her face, drawing her tangerine eyes to his green, worried as the gold twined about the scarlet, soothing a tension they did not understand.

    "Crimson, what's wrong?"
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  9. This time, Lyra did jump when she heard Rask's voice, and when she felt his fingers against her cheek, she did not hesitate to fold herself into him. It was a luxury she would not have allowed herself a few years ago, but she had learned the hard way what pulling away from her mate bought her.

    She stayed there for a moment, her head against his chest, listening to his heartbeat as it seemed almost to align with hers. Coils of scarlet curled gratefully around the gold, assuring him without words that she was unharmed, even as they accepted the comfort he instinctively offered. She was not afraid quite. She could sense no danger in the room, and Tai seemed unaffected, which generally meant Kohe was alright.

    Even so, seeing that strange new presence come over her young niece had been...unsettling. Part of her felt protective, wary. A greater part of her -- the part that perhaps stood now in quite shock -- understood that even if the presence had been malignant, it was much larger than anything Lyra could handle. She knew then that while she didn't understand what Kohe had prophesied (and it was a prophesy, and nothing less), it would absolutely come to pass, and none of them could stop it.

    She was only vaguely aware of what Rask had asked, and it was only when Tai began to show signs of wondering concern toward whatever was happening between her aunt and uncle that Lyra seemed to catch herself.

    "Nothing," she blurted aloud. Then, reconsidering, "It's...nothing." She knew Rask would know she was lying, but she also knew she didn't know how to explain what had happened to Kohe, what she had said. What she had promised.

    "The twins," she compromised. "Tai seemed to know what Kohe was thinking, even though a word never went between them. And Kohe...Kohe mentioned swimming. Did you tell them?"

    It was an empty question. She already knew the answer.

    Tai, for her part studied her aunt and uncle for a moment, briefly distracted from the art project she was constructing with starfruit and sticky fingers and her sister's head. She wasn't too worried about Aunt Lyra, though she could feel something there that didn't feel like happy. Still, she was beginning to learn that was kind of normal for grown-ups, even if she didn't understand it. Even she was not-happy sometimes, like when she was supposed to be sleeping, and Kohe wouldn't wake up, and it was dark. Or when she missed Mama and Papa. But those things were mostly easy to fix. It felt like grown-up's not-happy was bigger than that.

    If there was one thing that could always make Aunt Lyra better, though, it was Uncle Rask, and he was there now, with that feeling that Tai couldn't name. It felt like not-happy, but it wasn't his not-happy. It was like he was sharing Aunt Lyra's not-happy, and the not-happy was all spread out between them, the same way Mama and Papa had done when Mama got scared about leaving Tai and her sister.

    Tai wanted to ask Kohe what had made Lyra not-happy, but then Lyra and Rask were touching again, and they seemed okay. And besides, Tai thought she already knew.

    She had felt it when Kohe had stopped being Kohe for a second. She had felt it, and she had gone very still, watching her sister, in case the thing that wasn't her tried to hurt Kohe, or in case Kohe never came back. But Kohe always came back, and when she did, it was with surprises, like swimming. The surprise Kohe had given Aunt Lyra hadn't been swimming, hadn't really been exciting at all, and it had made Lyra weird, but Tai was only paying attention to Kohe, watching, waiting, even her starfruit neglected for a moment.

    And then Tai had broken into giggles again at her sister's return, never the wiser to what had been shared.
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  10. Rask frowned, understanding that she wasn't saying everything on her mind, but he'd learned long ago not to push Lyra. Oh, there were occasions when it was needed, but she rarely kept anything from him just to be stubborn. Sometimes she was just being stupid, but other times....there were times when he felt she truly didn't know how to explain or maybe just didn't find it important and it wasn't. So he didn't press, much as he wanted to - because really, what could have happened in the span of two minutes with no one but her and the three year old twins in the house? - because he trusted his mate.

    The gold Aavan nodded and then raised a brow, looking to the two giggling children and then back into tangerine eyes. "No, I didn't." He smiled slightly. "It's not a bad idea, though, and you know Kohe. She doesn't always make sense to us." It was said affectionately, but it was the truth and Rask kissed Lyra's forehead gently.

    "Come on, Crimson. Help me feed them and then we can go."


    Kohe never seemed to brighten up so much as when she was near water. She loved it dearly and would play in a puddle for hours if someone let her. It was one of the few times that she behaved like a giggly, happy little girl and now she practically squirmed in Rask's arms to get free, earning a laugh from her Uncle as they approached the lake.

    "Easy, Sekati!" he admonished with laughter and Kohe gave him a pout that was adorable to see and made her look much like her younger twin. Green eyes rolled. "Oh, not the pout! Anything but that!" The grin on his face only grew as Kohe widened her eyes and he tickled her gently before setting the three year old down, noting that Lyra was doing the same with Tai.

    They watched the two toddlers 'run' toward the water and the gold Aavan smiled to himself, sighing as he looked back to his mate. "You would think they were born fish instead of Aavan or Cerebrae."

    And indeed the twins were already in the shallow water, splashing and not hesitating to plop themselves right into the water with shrieks of laughter, even from the normally quiet Kohe.

    It was good to hear.
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  11. They spent the day at the water's edge, indulging in long silences broken only by the laughter of the girls, the sound of water lapping at the shore. When it grew warm, Lyra and Rask pulled the twins from the lake (with no small effort) and settled under a cluster of trees for a quick lunch and a nap. They woke just as the first of the suns was setting, Tai waking first, as per usual, and pacing in increasingly agitated circles until Kohe followed suit. Then it was back into the water, Lyra and Rask joining in until at last Lyra suspected bedtime was approaching. It was easy to tell -- Tai's first sign of fussiness was a stubborn refusal to leave Kohe's side.

    Lyra had gone to scoop Kohe up, simply to ensure she didn't get too close to the drop off where the water deepened, and Tai had begun to cry at once.

    "Aunt Rya, no! Kohe sim, Kohe simmeen with Tai!"

    Lyra had only chuckled and set Kohe down beside her sister -- who had promptly splashed over to her twin and run a dripping hand through black-white hair -- and gone to start the fire to let the girls dry off before they made the flight back to the house. If both twins made it back before falling asleep, she'd be surprised. Where Tai was always the first to wake, Kohe was always the last to fall asleep, calmly staring into the night as if looking for answers to everything in the stillness around her.

    While Rask and Lyra went off to stoke the fire, Tai balanced on her knees to study her sister, violet eyes wide and searching.


    She frowned, then gave up on speaking with real words. It was easier when only Kohe could understand her, anyway.

    Kohe, I miss Mama and Papa.
  12. Her younger sister's small bout of protest made Kohe grow far more quiet once more and when she was set down by Tai, she let the other reassure herself that Kohe was all right, patiently understanding that Tai needed her. When her twin settled, the mix-eyed child smiled softly at the violet-eyed one, moving to cuddle against Tai at her sister's words. Slender arms wrapped around the younger, small child and she rested her forehead to Tai's temple.

    Mama and Papa will be back soon. In two sunsets and sunrises. Mama will scoop you up and hug you tight, and she will tickle you and tell you what a good girl you were. And Papa will laugh and give you kisses, and he'll give you a pretty necklace from the other place they went. And they won't leave again for a long time. she assured her sister softly, confidently and then kissed Tai's temple even as Rask came to pick them both up.

    Their hands did not part, even while being held and as soon as they were by the fire, Kohe curled near and almost around the younger toddler, protective of Tai this time around as she knew her twin needed it. Kohe missed their mama and papa, too, but she knew when they'd be back. She knew what Tai did not and she knew how much Tai missed them.

    She didn't want her sister to be sad and her small fingers stroked Tai's white and purple streaked hair gently. The love in the gesture need not e spoken and Rask watched them with green eyes that held such adoration it was nearly tangible. He pulled Lyra close and kissed her forehead softly, wishing, just fleetingly - hopefully fast enough that Lyra didn't catch it - that they could one day of children of their own.

    He knew it wasn't something Keeper's did, though, and had accepted it for the most part. Besides...Kohe and Tai weren't even his and he had his hands full with even them!
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  13. Tai never wondered how Kohe knew the things she knew. She just did, and she was always right. It had never even occurred to her what a strange or special talent it was, or that most of the grown-ups didn't understand it. No one ever asked how Mama was able to know Tai was sneaking out of bed even when she was in another room. No one ever asked how Papa could speak to a whole lot of people at once without saying a word. As far as she was concerned, her family was a perfectly average one. They all just had little things they could do different.

    And just now, Tai was impossibly glad for her sister's little differences. If she closed her eyes, she could almost see Mama and Papa, back and safe, and doing everything Kohe had just said. One chubby hand found its way to her neck, and for just a moment, the necklace Kohe promised seemed to sparkle there, silver in the moonlight. Then it was gone, and Tai was opening her eyes beaming at her sister, thanking her without words, in that same way she knew when Kohe was hungry or tired or afraid.

    Tai curled close to their sister as they dropped off to sleep, closer than they had in some time, though it was hardly unusual to put the girls to sleep in different beds and wake in the morning to find Tai had crept in to Kohe's. She found she knew nearly everything there was to know about her sister, her thoughts and emotions, her fears and wishes. She had never truly been parted from Kohe, but somehow she knew it would not make all that much of a difference if they were. There were bonds between them that could not be stretched or broken, not by anything. Or so she hoped.

    Now, though, she was happy to be physically near Kohe, happy enough to go easily from water to fireside without complaining. And as they curled together under the watchful, adoring eyes of their aunt and uncle, Tai had an idea.

    It was a strange idea. There was no idea it should work. She had never seen it done before. But somehow, she knew it would.

    The fire threw pretty orange light against her sister's skin. Tai reached out with gentle fingers and touched Kohe's cheek. The firelight, but not the warmth, vanished, rising upward like ethereal smoke to twine around Tai's chubby fingers. Tai frowned, tiny brow knitting itself together. The tip of her tongue poked from the corner of her mouth.

    For a moment, nothing happen. Then Tai held out a hand, violet eyes wide.

    Kohe, look!

    There, in her palm, sat a small, perfect flower crafted of pale orange firelight. She held it out for Kohe to take. It lasted a few more seconds, flickered, and died, and in its place, Tai put her hand in Kohe's.

    And then she was asleep.


    Behind them, above them, Lyra watched in mingled awe and adoration, feeling Rask's heart beat against her back as she turned her head to kiss his shoulder. It was strange to see two small young creatures with such an inimitable love between them. Perhaps such love was normal for Aavan young, but young Cerebrae were not raised in such a way, and most did not have true siblings. She found it made her gut twist in a way both comforting and longing, in a way that was beginning to become familiar, but that she could not put a name to.

    She was only vaguely aware of the thought that passed quickly through Rask's mind, her attention caught more on the twins -- in particular, on Tai, who appeared to hold some glowing thing in her hand...

    Suddenly, her heart leapt into her chest, and she lurched forward, thinking Tai had somehow managed to snatch an ember from the flames.

    "Tai?" she said, her voice ringing with a forced calm. "Tai, what is that?"

    Tai appeared oblivious, though she wasn't screaming, either. Lyra leaned over to gently take whatever it was from Tai's hand...and then it was gone, glowing in Kohe's, and then flickering out so suddenly, Lyra wondered if it hadn't been a trick of the light.

    Still, she frowned as she pulled away from Rask, reaching over to take Tai's free hand in her, brushing a thumb over the unblemished flesh there. There was no sign of burning or blistering, and Tai was fast asleep. She looked to Kohe next, eyes searching for any sign of pain or struggle, but there was nothing, only that calm, knowing gaze.
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  14. Kohe was not often amazed, but even she gasped in delight at the feat Tai had done, taking the flickering, glowing flower reverently and smiling widely when it stayed for just a moment before vanishing away in a showering glow of sparkles. She giggled softly even as Lyra leaned over them and scarlet and sapphire eyes looked up into tangerine, perfectly content. Her slender, but small fingers reached to touch the Keeper's, knowing she could not comfort as her sister could, but affectionate all the same.

    "Jus' light, Aunt Rya. Not hurt Tai." she whispered softly before a yawn overcame her and she blinked sleepily, smiling with all the innocence of a three year old at her beloved Aunt before curling next to her sister, their heads close together and little hands clasped between them.

    "Nigh-nigh..." were her last mumbled words as her eyes slipped closed and Rask came over, settling a hand on Lyra's lower back in reassurance to her that the twins were fine. He would know if they were not. Green eyes looked down at both little girls and the gold Aavan shook his head fondly, reaching down to brush his fingers through their hair, noting that they were fast drying.

    "We should get them back." he told his mate softly, but it was a while before either of them moved the adorable toddlers and that was all right.
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  15. ----
    Tai was, as usual, the first one awake.

    At six years old, she was a little past crawling into her parents' bed (at least most days), and loved her sister too much to try and drag Kohe out of bed for another ten minutes.

    Still, she was bored and restless. Papa had told her a few days ago he could feel her first storm brewing. She didn't know what it was, or what it meant, but she could feel it deep inside her chest -- it was big, and she was excited. Much too excited to sleep.

    Outside, the sky was gray and dull, the first frigid winds of winter rustling the trees outside her window. Tai pressed her face to the glass, exhaled, and drew a flower in the fog. She turned to show Kohe -- she did very little, even now, without her sister's approval -- but Kohe was still sleeping.

    Bored, exasperated, Tai sighed, then had an idea. Springing up, she crept past her sleeping sister, out of the door, down the hall, and through the trees to the river that was only just beginning to freeze over.

    She had a surprise for her twin.


    Ten minutes later, a glowing bridge stretched over the river, carefully crafted from the dim, silvery light filtering through the thick canopy of clouds. Tai was excited. She was still learning how to build things from light, but she knew how happy it made her sister, and so she was forever practicing new shapes to show Kohe. Mama thought it was pretty, but she didn't like that it sometimes made Tai feel kind of sleepy, or made her head hurt, so she'd known she could only do it now.

    And it was working! She'd made a tiny, glowing footbridge and a few stepping stones so she and Kohe could enjoy their own secret garden until Mama found them and made them stop.

    Giggling, Tai hopped from one glowing stepping stone to the next, barely even aware of the goosebumps that covered her bare legs. She wore only her nightshirt, her pale skin all the paler for the cold, though violet eyes glowed bright with excitement. She kept having to reach up and push snow white hair from her face, though the untamable lock of dark purple that forever dangled in front of her left eye would not be so easily swayed.

    Still. Kohe would wake soon and come find her, and then she would show her twin what she had made.

    Delighted, Tai hopped up the stairs to her bridge to await Kohe's arrival.

    She was halfway across when a sudden bout of exhaustion splintered the bridge under her bare feet, dumping the girl into the frigid water below.
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  16. Kohe couldn't have said what woke her, could not give it a name, but she hardly cared what it was called, only that it DID wake her; with a shrill, piercing scream that echoed in the house like a banshee's shriek. The child was scrambling out of bed, panic making her chest tight and it hard to breathe even as she moved with a speed only a terrified six year old could. She hardly registered her parents bursting out of the room as she burst outside and her small, bare feet sped her to the river.


    Something was wrong with Tai and it sent streaking fear and a pain unlike anything the child had ever known through her heart, her head, her lungs. Her sister! Where was her sister?!


    Kohe screamed the other child's name desperately even as she waded into the frigid waters of the river, head frantically thrashing from side to side, mismatched eyes wild with a frenzied fear, barely acknowledging that her mother was coming in after her and her father was desperately searching as well, none of them able to see where the other twin might be, whether she was still close by or had been pulled down river.

    But Kohe could feel her twin's terror. She could feel the pain in Tai's lungs, the water choking her and the elder twin struggled to breathe even as her mother hauled her out of the water, the small child already soaked through and shivering violently. "Tai! Tai! Tai!" It was the only think Kohe could shriek, struggling to get away from the arms that held her, nearly sobbing as she tried to get to her sister.


    Rask jolted up in bed gasping for breath, already covered in sweat and his eyes gold, dilated, slitted. It wasn't a nightmare, though, not like usual. It came through in the pain that suddenly laced through his body, causing him to cry out mentally as understand swamped over the gold Aavan, making his body move from the bed, from Lyra even before he could put what he knew into real thought for his mate.

    He didn't dress, didn't pause as he raced from the house, not bothering to shift as he knew it would take too much time. He and Lyra lived close to the twins for a reason and now his mind flooded with them.

    Kohe's terror. Tai's desperation and fear. The pain from both, the sensation of struggling to breathe. A coldness that threatened to rival that of an Ashkerai. It all flowed through him, visible to Lyra as well and Rask felt his gift flare, searching, his life force seeking out that which it was meant to protect.

    And when he found it, Rask didn't hesitate to dive into the river when he came to the bank, the cold water hitting him like the piercing of a thousand knives. It didn't matter.

    Tai needed him.
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  17. Tai was confused.

    Everything had happened so fast. One minute, she'd been eagerly waiting for Kohe to arrive -- and the next Kohe was there. But she wasn't happy, like Tai thought. Kohe was afraid, desperately so, maybe more than Tai had ever seen her. She was so afraid it hurt, and Tai didn't understand it, but she wanted, more than anything to fix it.

    She was confused, too, because she was suddenly cold everywhere, a cold that somehow burned like fire, inside and out, biting through her skin to bone, surging down her throat into her lungs, wrapping like a vice around everything she needed to breathe, so she couldn't breathe, couldn't even scream, could only panic.

    And on top of that, there was another burning, little arcs of purple electricity looping over the surface of the water here and there. Tai could see them as the current -- deceptively strong under a thin layer of ice -- dragged her down stream. Away from Kohe, who was still scared.

    Tai was scared, too, she thought. It was hard to tell, there was a fuzzy darkness in her head that kept getting bigger and bigger. It blocked out the pain first, and then the cold, and then the burning need to breathe. It grew and grew until Tai forget she was cold at all, and just felt sleepy.

    But she cold still hear Kohe, feel her sister's fear sharper than her own.

    Kohe? Kohe, don't be scared...

    Then came the worst feeling of all -- these were the last words she was ever going to say to her sister. She'd thought there was nothing that could tear them apart.

    She'd been wrong.

    Tai let herself go and unconsciousness seized her, succumbing to the relentless cold of the river just as a pair of arms closed around her waist.


    Somewhere in the back of her mind, Rora knew she hadn't torn the earth to pieces only because of the small, cold bundle in her arms. She knew then, perhaps for the first time, how deep her love for her twins went, such that even as she could feel one dying, she remained calm, curled protectively around the other.

    Kohe was completely, horribly cold to the touch, trembling, screaming, sobbing in her mother's lap. She struggled with numbed limbs to get away from her mother, to hurl herself back into the water to find Tai. Rora knew that even without her Empathy, because she so longed to do the same herself, and would have. If not for Kohe.

    But the air was cold and the water was colder, and Kohe, she knew, shared her sister's pain, struggling to breathe. She knew she needed to get Kohe to warmth, but she dared not move from the riverside, in case...No, she could not even complete the thought. Kohe. She had Kohe now, and her oldest daughter needed help, needed warmth, now.

    "It's alright, little one," Rora soothed, folding herself around Kohe's trembling body. She clutched the older twin to her chest, desperately trying to use what remained of her own body warmth after her short time in the water to warm her daughter. She tucked the black-white head beneath her chin, wrapped her arms around Kohe's shoulders, holding her close to herself and speaking directly into her mind.

    "It's alright. Listen to me Koheera, little somni, it will be alright. I promise. Your uncle will get Tai. She'll be okay. You must calm now, okay, my sweet girl? Breathe with me, little one. Breathe."

    Rora poured herself into calming, warming her somni, her little dreamer, finding it took the edge off Tai's pain and fear -- and her own. Seconds seemed to slow to hours as she tried to massage warmth back into tiny fingers, only half able to remember when Mori had done the same for her years ago. She was only vaguely aware when someone draped a thick blanket over her shoulders.

    At once, she turned and snatched the thing from around her shoulders, deftly swaddling Kohe in it, wet hair and all, before turning to look at a grim-faced and stoic Lyra, tears in her eyes.

    "Lyra -- "

    The Keeper was red-faced and breathless, but she shook her head shortly. "I've already sent for the Healers. Keep her warm."

    Rora nodded wordlessly and went back to whispering gentle assurances to Kohe, still restraining her from going back into the water.

    Lyra stepped around Rora and went to wait on the riverbank beside Mori, handing him one of the three remaining blankets without a word. He knew he longed to go after Rask to find Tai -- so did she, though she would not say aloud she worried more for her mate than the child. Of course she wanted nothing more than Tai's safe return. The child was, after all, her niece. But she had woken just minute ago to Rask's still-warm spot in bed, just in time to see him disappear in a panic. She had only guessed what plagued him, feeling the same resounding ache and fear he felt, though not so keenly. She'd made it to the edge of the forest, had seen Rora drag Kohe from the water as Mori and Rask entered, and had sprinted back to the town before grabbing every blanket she could find in the small cottage she shared with Rask.

    She had two left now, one for little Tai...and another for Rask. He would not die from the cold, she knew. But neither could she relax while she still felt his fear pumping in her veins.
  18. It wasn't all right!

    How could they be saying it was all right?! It was NOT all right! Her twin, her sister, her half-heart was hurting, drowning, dying! Tai was dying and no one was doing anything! She was hurting and numb and it was so hard to breathe! It was so cold and no one was doing anything! She barely heard the rest of her mother's words, her mind too focused on her younger sister and Kohe screamed again when she felt her twin's mind go dark. The sound was chilling and both parts angry and grief-striken and she finally collapsed into her mother's hold, sobbing and shaking so badly she tasted blood, having bit her tongue badly.

    And Kohe didn't care because Tai would not answer her.

    "Tai...Tai..." The rest of the sobbing, desperate words were lost in a language neither Cerebrae or Aavan knew, but it was likely no one would remember that fact afterward.


    Rask knew the water wasn't his enemy. It never had been. No, it was the cold that was his enemy, a cruel, clawing, blood-slowing enemy that sapped at his strength and threatened to put him in the same situation Tai currently found herself. But the gold Aavan had experience, strength and determination behind his actions and they fueled his power which in turn shoved him in the direction he wanted to go, the water propelling him right to his target.

    His arms wrapped around the small, limp body without hesitation, feeling a new kind of terror come over him to feel, even within the water, that the child didn't breathe.

    Rask's limbs threatened to numb, to limit his movement, but he forced them into action, rising to the surface of the water and inhaling sharply when he broke it. The body in his arms did not and he quickly used the water to push them to the bank, shaking and gasping for breath himself, but not caring as he turned the little hybrid over, feeling a savage grief trying to rise within his mind. He beat it back, though, snarling at it to wait.

    Just wait!

    He could fix this! He had to fix this!

    Tears streamed with the water down his face, but it didn't stop Rask from what he had to do and placing his hand on Tai's chest, his eyes narrowed, the effort to control of his gift momentous as his body wanted to collapse, numb. He didn't allow it, though, drawing the water out of the child's lungs swiftly before he tilted her head and brought his mouth to her own, breathing in before placing his hands on her chest, pumping before repeating the process.

    "Come on, little monster. Please. Please breathe, please.."
    #18 Kaisaan, Jun 1, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2014
  19. Rora felt her hold tighten around Kohe's trembling body as the pain she felt from Tai faded and died. A horrible, icy fear gripped her as her mind began to jump to the worst. Tai wasn't dead. She couldn't be dead, because if that was the case, Rora felt certain she would follow suit, right then and there, her eldest daughter clutched in cold hands, and she could not, would not do that to Kohe. Not when she could feel the anguish and fear threatening to tear her daughter from her arms in a whole different way.

    Even so, the panic Kohe had kept at bay was slowly beginning to claw its way to the surface, and then Rora was shaking too, from fear, or cold, she couldn't guess. She held Kohe close, feeling the child's cold brow tucked into her neck, rocking her slightly, trying to put some meaning behind the words she kept uttering over and over again.

    "Breathe, little one. She's coming. Tai is coming right now, and she's going to join us here, and everything will be alright, I promise you. I promise."

    It had to be true. She could feel it in her bones -- if Tai did not live, Kohe may never trust her mother again.


    Lyra could no longer see Rask, and her heart had crept somewhere into her throat. Of everyone that had rushed outside, she alone remained completely dry, yet she trembled now nearly as badly as Kohe. In her mind, a memory left untouched for years reasserted itself again and and again. This was not that same river, of course. This was nothing like that, or nearly nothing. And yet his dying words echoed in her ears...

    She knew when Rask had emerged from the water, though they were all of them too far up river to see. She could feel the cold and pain in his limbs, the exhaustion and numbness, and stronger than that, a fear and grief that threatened to cripple him.

    Lyra stayed just long enough to Rora and Mori Rask had pulled Tai from the water -- "He's got her. He's got her. They're...he's got her." -- before sprinting down the river bank to where she could feel him trembling in the mud, expecting Mori right behind her.

    She found him half a minute later, gasping, shivering, sobbing, his lungs burning, her arms and legs numb with cold. She wanted to wrap him in the blanket, keep him dry and warm -- where were the Healers?! -- but she dared not touch him.

    Tai lay beneath him, dangerously pale, as still and quiet as Lyra had ever seen her. It was enough to unsettle even the Keeper, as she finally began to understand Kohe might lose her sister this day, and all in a matter of moments.

    Rask didn't even appear to have noticed Lyra there, and Lyra didn't try and take his attention from his task, moving to stand beside him, lending quiet strength and support where she could.

    And as Tai drifted further and further from life, she braced herself, hardly willing to breathe, as scarlet strands began to wrap themselves around frantic gold, trying to keep the images of a premature burial out of her head, away from Rask.

    "Holy Mother, please..." she whispered under her breath. "Please."

    The woods were silent, save for the sound of the river babbling insidiously behind them, Rask's only shuddering breaths as he tried to revive Tai. Somewhere through the trees, Kohe cried for her sister.

    There was nothing else.


    The sound that broke the silence was simultaneously the most hideous, wondrous thing Rora had ever heard.

    The pain of hearing her child make such a desperate, terrified, agonized sound was eclipsed only by a relief that flood her veins like liquid fire. If she'd been standing, she might have collapsed. As it were, she dissolved into tears of fear, pain, joy, once more cradling her older daughter closer to her chest, now desperate to soothe again.

    "You see?" she said, voice wet with tears. "You see, little one? She's alright. She's alright. She's coming back to us, Koheera, my somni, she's okay. Tairisa is alive."


    Lyra opened her eyes at the sound of Tai's gasp. She winced at the desperation there, the almost palpable fear, a fear even Lyra could feel would not leave her for some time. It seemed strange and horrible that such a sound could come from one so young, and Lyra knew she was not the only one who had come close to losing a life to drown. She could remember what it was to have every breath you took betray you.

    But Tai was breathing on her own again, and Lyra felt the fear slowly leech away from her, and then she was stumbling forward, draping a blanket over Rask's shoulders, carefully, loosely wrapping Tai in one of her own.

    The younger of her nieces didn't seem to have noticed to blanket or Lyra or Rask yet, though. Her eyes were wide with fear as she gasped and choked, rolling to her stomach to vomit as soon as she had the strength. Her skin was still deathly pale, and there was a dark blue color to her lips and fingers that made Lyra frown just to look at.

    Tai took a few more ragged breaths before bursting into tears, her voice ringing out for all of them to hear.

    "K-K-K-Kohe? Mama! Papa! Kohe!"
    #19 DotCom, Jun 1, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2014
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  20. Mori would forever - forever - remember the long, drawn out horrifying fear of those passing moments watching Rask try to revive his daughter. He would remember them and shudder, he would remember them and feel the tears start at his eyes again. He would look back on it and thank the stars above that his child was still alive, but in those moments everything had faded but his desperate, painful hope that she would come back to them.

    And then she did.

    Relief swept over the black Aavan, swiftly followed by shock, but he was already moving, not allowing his body to freeze up as he picked up his daughter in one swift movement, blanket and all, cradling her close as she cried. Little bursts of lightning flared over her skin, tiny things that barely tickled his skin and Mori nearly sobbed with the knowledge that like him, his daughter had nearly drowned, but unlike him, she would know comfort immediately. She would not harm him and he could hold her, comfort her, whisper how much she was loved and how she was safe now in her ear and offer what warmth he could as he made his way back through the trees, to his mate, to his eldest child who was looking desperately at the trees.

    Kohe was quiet now, but her wide, saucer-sized, mismatched eyes wouldn't leave her sister and she seemed unable to move now, shock and cold setting in. It wasn't until her father collapsed beside them, bringing Tai into her vicinity, close enough to touch, that Kohe lost it again and started to cry with her sister, reaching out and hugging Tai close, never, ever wanting to let her go.

    Her little body shook just as bad as her twins' and Mori looked to Rora, his voice raw and only whispered in her head but enough. "We need to get them warm, little rainbow." He shook just as they did, but more from adrenaline and relief than cold.


    Rask stared after Mori with wide, dilated eyes, his mind unable to comprehend anything but one important fact.

    Tai was breathing. She was alive. He'd kept her safe.

    The knowledge was enough to take the strength out of him and the gold Aavan nearly collapsed, trembling violently with a numbing cold that was dangerous to any Aavan - and he'd been in the water nearly as long as Tai and WITHOUT any Cerebrae blood to temper his reaction. But Tai had nearly drowned. He would rate her experience far worse than his without contest. But it didn't take away from the danger he was now in as his limbs started to slow, his blood sluggish and his mind threatening to slip into shock.

    He'd nearly lost them both.

    And only Lyra - and Asesee but she wasn't here - knew how disastrous that could have been, how much weight he carried, how important the twins were. And he'd nearly lost them.

    It was enough to send his middle roiling and like poor little Tai, Rask expelled he contents of his stomach, his limbs shaking with the effort to keep him upright, his pale skin freezing to the touch. He wanted to curl into Lyra, into the scarlet threads that were so warm in his mind, but he knew that wouldn't be enough.

    Moving seemed beyond him, though. As did speech...and thought...
    #20 Kaisaan, Jun 1, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2014
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